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I'm Messy & I'm Done Having Feelings About It


I’m in the kitchen minding my business when I sense someone standing behind me. It’s my 7-year-old daughter: “Mom, is anyone ever going to do the dishes?” I spin around and glare at her curious face as I pull yet another dirty dish from her hand and toss it into the sink. “Eventually, but first on my list is making dinner; the dishes can wait!” I give the sink a side eye, as I have one too many times already. I hate that my kid has begun to notice (and point out!) my inability to keep up with the household chores.

When my kids were toddlers, I didn’t have to worry that one of them was going to narc on me to the neighbor that our house was a perpetual mess. They didn’t know any different. But now that they are older, they go on playdates and see how other families live. Inevitably, they start making comparisons. My daughter’s comment stung because I worry she sees our house as the only one in a constant state of disaster.

Because let’s be honest here: I’m just not a perfect housekeeper. Far from it. And that’s not going to change at this point. I’m getting pretty tired of masking my reality from my kids; the fact is that there aren’t enough hours to balance work, family, and chores and I’d honestly rather spend my time relaxing than cleaning!

Now that my children are 7 and 10 years old, they’re starting to notice I am flawed as I hastily toss laundry into corners and scramble to clean when we have guests and become emotional if cooking goes awry.

There’s history there, of course: I have always been messy. Growing up, my parents had high academic expectations. The tradeoff was that the tidiness of my living space suffered. This was my life — giving all my attention to my education and career and maintaining a pretty low bar regarding housekeeping. I only began to become self-conscious of my habits when I got married and shared a space with someone else.

Now, with two kids, my husband and I split the household chores. But I had to teach first myself and and then my children the importance of picking up after ourselves. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. We all put our dishes in the sink after a meal, and most of the time, my husband loads the dishwasher because I never learned to love this particular chore. But all the rest of it? Well, it’s a mixed bag. And I’m learning to be ok with that.

Sometimes, the toys get picked up, but they are often still where I found them. I choose my battles these days — cleaning up toys versus getting homework done, taking a bath versus putting laundry away. And often at night, we like to watch TV or play games as a family, so yet again, the cleaning gets pushed aside. I want my children to look back and remember the nights we laughed instead of mom being fixated on a clean house. Maybe I won’t live up to anyone else’s expectations of what my house might look like, and I think it’s time my children know that it’s ok too. It’s my life and my house, and I get to choose my priorities.

Being a messy person isn’t a flaw; it’s a superpower. It’s the ability to find joy amidst imperfection, embrace the unpredictability of life, and revel in the beauty of the unscripted moments. I’ve come to realize that my messy existence is teaching my kids a valuable lesson — that it’s okay not to have it all figured out and that mistakes are stepping stones to growth.

CJ Kelsey is a wife and mother of two and she had her family live in the metro Detroit area. She works as a physical therapist and in her spare time enjoys reading, baking and writing in her blog mommingonfumes.com.



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