I am admittedly a no-mess mommy, and I’m not proud of it.
For someone who has a tough time keeping my bathroom, closet, car, and purse clean, I’d assume myself to have a slightly higher tolerance for messes made by my children — but, I don’t.
I’m a hypocrite; it’s a fact.
While I have always been very creative and artsy, I am also very regimented and methodic. But, when you put together three children under the age of six and anything that can be squished, torn, poured or spewed, then any rules and procedure for “playing” get thrown out of the window (probably with a Play-doh molded catapult).
Recently, I volunteered at my daughter’s school to help the first-grade students make Oobleck. I called it “slime”, but was quickly informed that Oobleck “is a non-Newtonian fluid” and that “it has properties of both liquids and solids”.
Let me ask: Does it sound clean or messy?
Yep, you are right — messy as hell — and I forgot to take my rings of first.
Getting my hands (and arms and elbows) covered in gook inspired me to expand my thinking and increase my patience when it comes to messes within my own home and the innocent and kind children behind those messes.
More times than I would care to admit, I have lost my shiitake over hodgepodge, and not surprisingly to my children (insert sad face here because this mommy is screwing up), any mess size seems to earn an equal amount of frustration and grunts from me.
Yes, I grunt — isn’t that horrible to admit, and how embarrassing would that have been for my daughter had I behaved in such a manner in front of her friends or teacher.
I didn’t, thank goodness, but guess what?
I actually had fun.
I was completely present and engaged, and so were the children. This is something that, sadly, I more often than not lack in my own home — being fully present and partaking in spontaneous fun and creative learning with my kids and whatever is creating the “mess of the moment.”
That is my fault.
I am the lead, and I set the example, and I’m honestly embarrassed by the stick-in-mud behavior I typically exemplify. Wait — I’ll have to come up with another way to describe my typical attitude because sticks and mud are two things I try to avoid because, you know, they can be MESSY.
More than anything I want my children to embrace their creative tendencies. I want them to use their imagination and to step outside the box that society and I involuntarily (and let’s be real here, sometimes on purpose) confine them to.
Creative people are brilliant.
Creative people are adaptable.
Creative people are courageous.
Creative people are inspiring.
Creative people are self-motivating.
My crying and yelling over paint-stained fingertips or modeling clay that has been crushed into the carpet does nothing to reinforce the reality which is that sometimes learning can get sloppy, and that is okay. In fact, sometimes our most significant pieces of knowledge come from taking chances and experimenting.
In fact, life in general can get very muddled, but if we can teach ourselves and our children to anticipate and prepare for the disorder, embrace the untidiness and enjoy it, and then clean up the wreckage, messy will become their new best friend and probably your home’s new norm.
By giving our children the freedom to make messes, we are opening their minds to an untapped section of their brain that is hidden well under their DIY-ed pink hair.
Be proud of their messes (and yours if you’ve been brave enough to make any), as the mere presence of a mess inside your home signifies your acceptance and encouragement of the originative chances your child is willing to take. What is more critical than fostering your child’s innate inclination to be innovative, artistic, imaginative, offbeat, and even visionary? Not much, I think.
But, in total truth, I do have to note that it is very likely you will have to remind me that I said all of this. Something tells me that not too long from now I will be complaining (a.k.a. YELLING) about a stained rug and ruined clothing which will, of course, be the unexpected and very unwelcomed result of my son’s next impromptu science experiment.
Repeat: I am calm, creative is good, and I accept the mess of the moment.