To my very disheveled (but very happy) house,
I have to be honest with you: You've really let yourself go.
Granted, you weren't exactly in impeccable shape before we had two kids and adopted a rescue dog. But these days you're looking—how should I say it?—neglected. Nothing like those images I see on Pinterest of mothers playing with their babies in a nursery where every book is neatly stacked on the shelf and not a single piece of milk-drenched, avocado-stained laundry is in sight.
Rather, I discover tumbleweeds of dog hair under the sofa and bookshelves as I crouch down playing hide-and-seek with my toddler. I find odd socks in kitchen drawers, whisks and spatulas in the kids' dresser. Why? Because my son has been baking "cakes" in his room. (Naturally.)
I practically forget that we have a dining table until I excavate it from the eruption of continuously flowing laundry at 5:30 pm so that we can sit down and eat dinner together. (And no, I can no longer fathom the days when my husband and I enjoyed a leisurely dinner at 8 pm. I mean… who can wait that long to eat?)
There are days when we step over Duplo bridges and racing cars made of cardboard boxes just to get out the front door. Then we come home to the crowded kitchen island and push aside finger paints and piles of autumn leaves for tracing so that we can make another snack.
But here's the thing. While you've been poorly maintained (okay, completely and utterly overlooked) over the last three years, you've also been witness to countless small miracles.
A cascade of giggles trickling from a baby's toothless smile.
A symphony of coos and babbles and—soon enough—words, sentences, entire stories.
First steps and first tumbles. First kangaroo hops and bear crawls and robust lion roars.
A toddler's raspberry kisses blown on my taut, expanding stomach.
The first friendly tackle from a big brother to his still-too-little-for-contact-sports baby brother, followed by conspiratorial laughter between them.
You've patiently waited for your turn, house. You've waited for me to catch up on the laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming (in between those naps and snacks and playdates, not to mention late-night work sessions and frantic attempts to meet deadlines).
You've allowed your faded sofa cushions to be used as the roofs of improvised forts and the landing pads for Olympic long jumps. You've graciously made way for a double stroller to park permanently in your entryway, muddy wheels and all. You've let the living room become a racetrack, the hallway a scooter path. You've put up with laundry hanging in every imaginable corner during the winter, and you've shrugged off the trails of sand and emptied pockets full of seashells during summer.
So, while you've been anything but Pinterest-worthy, there's one thing I know for sure. When I look back in 10 or 20 or 30 years, I doubt I'll remember your state of disarray.
Instead, I'll remember near meltdown moments turned into impromptu dance parties. Rather than thinking about finger-smudged windows (yes, the same ones prominently displayed in the family photos I paid a considerable amount for), I'll remember how those little fingers helped me stir pancake batter early in the morning before the rest of the neighbors were awake.
I'll probably forget how some days I had to navigate from one room to the other as if balancing on scattered stepping stones across a rushing river. But I'm fairly certain I'll remember the general feeling of joy, even in the moments of sheer exhaustion.
I'll remember that every day was full of discoveries—not only for my boys but for me too as I watched their curiosity and independence unfold.
The day will come when the house is tidy enough for people to drop by unexpectedly without me launching into a litany of excuses for its disheveled state. I know this (and I'll probably lament that day when it does arrive).
I know at some stage I'll catch up on laundry, and dishes and work. I'll vacuum the dog hair and dust the picture frames more frequently, and I'll stop using my organic, all-natural baby wipes to clean the entire bathroom.
I'll make sure the kitchen utensils are in the kitchen, not the bedroom. I'll work during daylight hours, and my desk won't be covered in sticker books and popcorn crumbs and rogue pieces of dog-chewed train tracks.
But, house, I'm afraid you'll have to wait a bit longer for your day to come. For now, we're far too busy having fun, and I'll take that over a perfect house any day.