If you’re a follower of this blog, you’ve heard me talk about mess. The inevitable mess that comes with having seven people living in one house can be overwhelming at times.
Janie has just learned how to get into a chair and then onto the school table. Nothing is safe now – scissors, pencils, Sharpie markers. She has already written in one library book. She’s a firecracker, that’s for sure! Always busy. Sometimes she is occupied with something productive, but more often it’s something like putting the dog’s dry dog food into his water dish or unloading all the contents of my wallet.
This morning, I was on my way to get something from the kitchen when I ran into the evidence of Janie having taken a cereal box into the living room and having fed herself cereal in her little chair on the rug. On my way to get a wet rag to clean up the half-chewed cereal from her chair (meanwhile someone else is waiting for help at the school table), I found this on the counter:
I had let Jonathan paint while the older boys were doing school, but then they needed help in the school room and he ended up painting by himself. And he painted in the way in which any three year old with limited painting experience would.
In that moment, I was tempted to get angry. Not at Jonathan, but at the whole scenario – the school mess and the cereal mess and the paint mess, all of which was keeping me from the dishes that were piled all over the sink and the counter. But I stopped and thought about the fact that we live in a studio, not a museum. This is a not a place with sparkling clean floors where people gaze serenely at beautiful masterpieces hung on the wall. No, a studio is messy. Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned in a studio. There are paint drips everywhere and supplies strewn here and there. Things are learned and worked out in a studio. We are not on display – we are in process.
Sometimes a change in perspective makes all the difference.
Realistic expectations make it easier to see the progress. Like the fact that the toddler can say 2 more words than she could yesterday and the first grader is suddenly better at reading. The three year old might spill something almost daily, but the eight year old doesn’t, and in fact he has become quite helpful with cleaning things up! And while it is certainly good to teach the toddler not to eat cereal in the living room, a shift in thinking puts the inconvenience in the proper perspective (it was a 3 minute clean-up) and allows me to enjoy the life.
Our house is full. Not full of inconvenience or hassle, but full of life.
And lots of life comes with lots of muddy shoes. But that’s okay, because we live in a studio, not a museum.