Sunday, April 15, 2012

Progress is Messy

We started a big yard project this week, and the mud and chaos in our outdoor space has left me contemplating messes and progress.  

Progress is messy.  We tore out our front walkway this week (and by "we" I mean a friend of Jason's who owns a skid steer) in preparation for re-grading the front yard.  Grading going toward the house is a bad idea, I'm not sure why the folks who built our house didn't know that.  Now we are left to redo the yard in order to keep water from coming in our window wells (again...).

It doesn't look like we've made much progress. But despite the mess, we are making slow movements in the right direction.

As a mama, I feel as though I am constantly cleaning up messes, or asking others to do so.  I'm a listing-making,  enjoys-getting-rid-of-stuff, loves-to-see-organized-spaces kind of a girl. 

I decided to look at our messes today through a different lens (and yes, all these messes happened today).  Yes, I believe it's important to take good care of our home and keeping things tidy is definitely a goal of mine.  But, we have messes because we are making progress.

Toys in the bathtub mean Ethan was here, splashing and pretending.  He imagines intricate story lines with these animals every day, in various locations.  They are by far the most played-with toys in our house.
His imagination and grasp of plots has grown immensely lately.  He is pretending more than he is not, and I love to see him progress into an imaginative, creative boy.

A stack of dishes drying near the sink means our tummies are happy and full of whole, healthy food. 
And some treats.  We're a work in progress. 

Our kitchen table is almost constantly covered with one project or another (during the day; we put things away before dinner and try to leave it clean til projects are taken out again the next morning).  We are progressing creatively and a good portion of that creativity is expressed at this table.

Papers and crayons/paints/colored pencils strewn around generally means Ellie is close by.  The girl is a whirlwind of creative power.  She is constantly writing, drawing, typing, or finger-knitting, reading, inventing, or any number of other messy hobbies.  She's still working on  learning to clean up one mess before she dives into the next.

A cozy spot near the living room window is the perfect place to read, so naturally it is in need of a comfy bean bag chair and a pile of blankets and pillows.  Ellie claimed this spot today and finished at least two books while she was there.

 Stacks of books scattered about shows that we are a literature-loving family.  Our library card is thoroughly maxed-out and replenished faithfully every week (often twice a week).  Many hours are spent snuggled up on this couch with a stack of books nearby.  This is an area of progress in our lives that I am delighted with.   To pass on a  love of reading to my children has been a goal since I first began thinking about being a mama.  Strickland Gillilan describes perfectly how I feel about my mom, and how I hope my children will remember me:

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a mother who read to me.
-- Strickland Gillilan (1869-1954) 

We are making progress in our outdoor adventures, too.   Outdoor family time is a huge priority for us. And although we are not perfect at making it happen every weekend, we are making progress toward that goal. 

We have spent a lot of time in the yard/garden lately, and I treasure the time with my little ones as they learn to plant, weed and care for green and growing things along side me.

Exploration is important to us.

This means a lot of  messes and dirty laundry:

While a part of me would love to have a perfectly spotless home all the time, that doesn't completely mesh with the lifestyle we've chosen.  I'm not giving up my lists and tidiness, but I want my children --and the adults around here, too-- to have the space and time to create, learn and improve themselves.  I am working toward being relaxed enough to allow us the freedom we need to do so.

And if that improvement, exploration, freedom and creation brings messes, I'm okay with that.


  1. Well said! This is something that I definitely still need to learn. Thank you. I'll try looking at the messes over here with a new lens.

  2. I love this post. You inspired me to take a picture of all the messes going on in my house right now and to appreciate them. I would love to see an official home tour in pictures. It will tide me over until I can get up there to see it for real