Excuse My Mess: Overcoming Perfection

Once… long, long ago there existed a myth. This myth was terrible and powerful and seductive all at once, rolled up and offered up to each and every new wife and new mom:

The myth of perfection.

My Living Room

My Living Room

The myth was deceptively simple, but so multi-faceted that a woman could just never quite get a grasp on it, but felt forever that she was meant to be in search of this perfection.

Perfection in her home: clean and sparkly.

Perfection in her children: clean and sparkly, sweet and well-mannered, quiet yet eloquent.

Perfection in herself: clean and sparkly, sweet and well-mannered, quiet yet eloquent, beautiful yet modest.

OH! How it pulls you in and refuses to let you go!

But I decided to fight.

I decided I would not bow down to the pressure it put onto my back.

And I want to encourage you to as well.

Time for some honesty: 

I’m blogging while my children are supposed to be straightening their bedrooms, which means they are truly playing hide-and-seek in their bedrooms since I’m occupied with something that makes me happy for a few moments.

I’m blogging while there are dishes in my sink from the weekend, where we had 15-18 people over all weekend while we cared for a friend’s children while they welcomed a new baby into this world, and opened our home to old friends and family just looking to enjoy themselves.

I’m blogging while there are clothes in the washer, and more in the hampers scattered around the house waiting to be washed because living in my house means playing in the mud and in the rain, climbing trees and skinned knees and I am more likely to be found running through it with the children then fretting over whether or not life is picture perfect.

I’m blogging while my bedroom is in shambles from having  my six children pile up over the last few days to take a break from the craziness of the full household because I believe that my bedroom is a sanctuary, for me, my husband, and my children, where we can all escape anything that demands our attention outside of the joy of just being a family.

I’m blogging in my pajamas, with my hair not brushed at 9 am, with my comfy Earth Spirit shoes on because the kids demanded breakfast and the floor is too gritty to walk on barefoot because I haven’t swept since my husband gave the kids a before bed snack at 10pm last night .

The myth tells me I should be ashamed… but I’m not. 

I’m not a messy person by nature; I am actually a seriously teeny bit of a germ-a-phobe.

I’m not a lazy person; I work hard: I have a whole household, six kids, a husband, and a job.

I am not a maid, I am a mom. Nurturing my child’s character is a lot more important than washing a sink full of dishes and my children will always come before housework.

My house is not dirty… it’s full.

My house gets clean… really clean. But I know, with full certainty, it will get right back to messy because… you know… we live in here. 

My Living Room an Hour After the Kids Wake Up

My Living Room an Hour After the Kids Wake Up

This house sees our triumphs and failures, our learning, our projects, our love, our fights, and our fun. And a few years ago, I lived trapped in the knowledge that I was not perfect, and I fought -kicking and screaming- against the idea that I might not be perfect. I was trapped until I realized

We live lives trapped by fictional stereotypes.

Forget the whole image that a 1950’s housewife is the image of perfection, we wrap up new shiny models to be held up as our mythical ‘home-maker/mother/wife’ idol; to be that woman who we all believe has it all together, the one who is perfect, the one who – if you could only do ___ like her! – we feel that we fail against. Gone is the happy image of women getting their hands dirty to be good homemakers, as often found crawling through the mud with her boys as sitting sewing a bright and cheery new dress for her girls, no- not her! She is perfect so her home is always perfect, and she can actually do her daily cleaning without destroying her perfect manicure. We live lives trapped by Blogger, WordPress, and Pinterest, telling us that if we’d only complete this THIS way, our homes will become clean, our children will behave, and our husbands will be perfect.

Boy, have I got news for you, my friend. 

Perfection is boring.

There. I said it.

This myth of perfection we chase is stale, boring, and dull and I want no part in it anymore!

To live without emotion – without raised voices in vehemence & conviction, squealing with joy, rolling with laughter – is a sad prospect indeed. To live without messes is stifling – Ever spent a few hours in a hospital? Remember how happy you felt when you could relax, breath the fresh air?- and restricting.  To live without failing, is not worth living.

Because when we fail… when we fall flat on our faces, we discover we have the strength to get back up. 

We learn that we are broken, that we have needs we cannot fill on our own. We learn we will drown without our husband, our children, our family, our God –  that we need to reach out and grasp the lifeline that’s just waiting for ourselves to humble enough to admit we are drowning so they can throw it into our outstretched arms. And we learn what love really is and how true love, not the kind that we offer up from our brokenness but the kind that requires selflessness, that was freely given even while suffering death on the cross, is beyond our ability. And Oh! how sweet is that love!

So this is my declaration…

Don’t expect perfection from me, because I will fail you… miserably. There is one ONE who is and was perfect on this earth, and I am but His servant.

Don’t expect apologies when I prove I’m not perfect, when you stop by my house at 10 in the morning and we’re just now sitting down to breakfast, with me in PJ’s and kids running around in their underwear with their hair running in fifteen different directions because we got caught up in a good book before breakfast.

I’m done saying “Excuse my mess.”


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