Written by contributor Emily Walker of Remodeling This Life.
I’ve spent a lot of time lately feeling frustrated with my home. I went back to working outside the home after six years, and as a result, went from having plenty of time in a day to make things just the way I wanted them in my home—to having just enough time to make things pretty good.
I’ve had to let go of perfection and be okay with pretty good. If the laundry is done and the kitchen is clean simultaneously, I am fine with there being toys everywhere (or at least I try really hard to be). I am not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy. Somehow, having kids right under my feet making art and toy messes zaps all my motivation to clean up. It feels like an uphill battle, and more than ever, it feels like if my home is anything, it’s not a simple one.
This morning, like many others, I spent some time grumbling inwardly (and a little bit outwardly, too) about how complicated it seems to just keep the living room clean for more than twenty minutes. The second a surface is cleared, it becomes a magnet for more stuff to get set there.
As soon as I clean the floors, someone tramples them with summer feet.
As soon as I get to the bottom of the laundry hamper, there is more thrown in.
I headed out for a run today, happy to be stepping away from the chaos for a little while, and into the outdoors where the only things in my way were fallen branches and puddles from last night’s storm. My normally enjoyable run became everything I hoped it wouldn’t be.
I ended up feeling terrible, it was too hot out, my iPod died, I got stuck at a red light and there—a mile and a half into my jaunt—I gave up. I was left feeling deflated, too tired, too hot, too everything to keep going. I altered my route and texted my hubby to let him know, tears streaming down my face. I felt like a miserable failure.
I headed home, walking, mad at myself, wondering what the heck was wrong with me that I couldn’t just keep going. I tried a few times, but it was just too hot and hurt too much. With about three-fourths of a mile from home, I decided to gut out running the rest of the way back, and arrived at our driveway feeling slightly better but still frustrated that things had not gone as I expected. Apparently, I am always supposed to be perfect.
This time, I walked inside my pretty-good-but-not-perfect home, and realized that while it may not look perfect, and it looks slightly past the point of lived in, it is quite perfect in its non-visible ways.
My hubby was there with a hug and a big glass of water to make me feel better. My kids were there to welcome me home. I thought about all the things that you can’t see in our home, and suddenly all the things that were driving me crazy no longer were.
So there’s some clutter at the moment, and you probably don’t want to walk on my floors in bare feet. It’s also a home that is full of love and support, the things we need when we are feeling our least perfect: the things we need when all of our silly expectations go unmet, and we feel like failures for not reaching the ridiculous and unattainable.
Since this morning, I have thought about the things that we have to let go of in order to gain other things. I got a job outside the home—which has been wonderful in a million ways for our family—but it has also taken a lot of balance-shifting. Now, in order to keep my house perfect, it’ll have to come at the cost of time with my family in the evenings and on the weekends. And my running legs aren’t the same because I don’t have as much time to run.
I’ve realized that there are things that we have to make choices about, and sometimes we can’t be everything or do everything perfectly. And there certainly is no award for Supermom given out at the end of the day, with the criteria being a spotless house or a fast run time.
At the end of the day, what matters are the things you can’t see—not the things that spend more time on the floor or counter than they should.
If there’s one thing I have learned recently, it’s that having a simple home isn’t simple at all. And it has to do with more than organization. Sometimes the simple and organized has to make room for the complicated mess of love and life—however full of disappointments and unmet expectations they may be. That’s what makes home life so wonderful—the beautiful mess.
What messes in your home right now speak of the love and creativity that happen within those walls?