I recently was invited over to a mama friend’s house to have some coffee and conversation. She has two sweet little girls and the most welcoming, open heart. Immediately upon my walking in, she said,
“Please don’t judge me. My house is a mess.”
I do not judge you for the state of your house. It shows me many things. You call it messy, but this is what I see.
Upon entering the kitchen, yes, I do see the dishes piled up in the sink… but that pan and spatula, those colorful bowls and plastic sippy cups, they are signs that you are the kind of mama who cooks breakfast for her girls. I can see that you gather at the table every morning and pray to thank Jesus for the food He’s given you. You discuss the previous night’s dreams, and laugh about the milk mustaches forming above your little ladies’ lips. You provide a nutritious meal for your family, which undoubtedly opens many cabinets and drawers, and spreads their contents around the room. You delightfully choose to spend the time following the meal with your girls, rather than hurrying to the kitchen and washing their waking time away. Instead, you choose to chat with me while you put those adorable pink rubber gloves on, which you shyly tell me your 3 year old picked out. I can see that this kitchen is a place of warm food, wholesome conversation, and hearty love.
We move to the living room, and yes, I see the floor full of toys, the couch piled high with laundry, and your daughter on a tablet. Again, come your disclaimers. Mama, what I see in those puzzles, letter magnets, dolls, and other toys is a family that encourages learning. You teach your girls through playing with them. Their smiles and laughter make way for imagination and exploration. As I put my son’s car seat on the carpet, and bend over to cross my legs on the floor, you apologize for the hidden sofa. What I see is that you are too consumed playing with your girls on the floor to kick up your legs and zone out on that couch with the TV. The quality time spent in this room is among the lively princesses and towering blocks, not flat characters on a screen. You are actively engaged with your kiddos and are too enthralled with their lovely presences to have time to binge Netflix.
You tell me that your daughter that is on the iPad as a reward for making it to the potty. Mama, I know that this exhaustive stretch of potty-training is draining your spirit. These days that have stretched into weeks, which have covered a few months, are starting to wear you down. To add to that, you feel some sort of guilt for allowing your daughter 5 minutes of screen time. What I see is a mama who is teaching her daughter the life-skills of perseverance, patience, and delayed gratification. You show her that during times of celebration, it is okay to indulge on occasions through letting her have those few minutes of learning games on the iPad. You are teaching her that we ought to feel a humble sense of pride when we accomplish goals, however big or small.
Mama, you are embarrassed by the dishes, the toys, and the mess. You worry that I will judge you for allowing your daughter screen time. I do not judge. Instead, I take it all in with admiration. This new mama is still figuring out the stay-at-home life. Too many times, I feel defeated because my house isn’t Pinterest perfect and 5-star clean. I beat myself up for not having the dinner ready on time, kitchen cleaned, and floor vacuumed. This gig is hard. Seeing your kitchen littered with pans and plates inspires me. It shows me that I shouldn’t forgo cooking breakfast for myself, and soon for my babe, because I won’t have time to get to the dishes. I see that the memories and quality time spent over eating that meal is worth the mess that might not get cleaned up right away. The living room encourages me to choose playtime with my little man instead of another episode of TV drama. The imagination and creativity that certainly grows in that living room is far more entertaining and filling than anything that could be found in my newsfeed. You show me good mommying through the small reward that you give to your daughter. You teach me to celebrate the little triumphs amidst the frustrations of the journey. You remind me, that no matter how small or mundane a success, when I meet a goal, I ought to treat myself; as when my little meets a milestone, I should never forget to praise and uplift him.
You say it is a mess, but what I see is so much more.
a mama in training