Since getting the kids, I’ve really been struggling with keeping everything together.  I just expect things to be perfect and I have been seriously stressing when they are not. My blood pressure has been climbing…

Let me give you an example:

Our church (Eastwood Baptist Church in Tulsa) has started these awesome small groups.  It is designed for people to get to know each other on a more intimate level and really challenge ourselves to grow spiritually.  The problem is, there is NO small group in our little town, 10 minutest north of Tulsa.  We have a LOT of couples and families that live in our same small town, however, none of them have opened their LOVELY homes to host a small group.

And by LOVELY, I mean…new, CLEAN, rich, beautifully decorated, free of toys.

You see, none of them have small children.  I have 4 small children 6 and under.  I have 2 big “children”, 13 and 16…which carries with it an entire new area of cleaning issues.  So you understand why I would be MORTIFIED to have any of these lovely people, with lovely homes, into my very UNLOVELY home, filled with lovely children.  I would rather drive 30-40 minutes, 2 towns over and go to small groups.

I don’t want anyone seeing (or even KNOWING about) my unlovely house.  I can’t keep it together.  Just about the time I get the kitchen done, they have strewn toys all over the living room.  I can’t possibly keep up with the potty cleaning, or the sink washing….or even the countless number of clothes that Princess Tiana has left all over the bathroom floor as she changes clothes 4 times a day.  And don’t get me started on my kitchen!  The counters that constantly have sippy cups and bottles, stray pacifiers and the odd toy or tupperware (translated butter tubs) with no lid.  Oh and that TABLE!  I had VISIONS of eating beautiful family dinners around that table….now?  Now it has piles of everything:  important papers I need to look at (until I don’t, and whatever it was that needed to be signed has since expired and they quit bugging about it), school work I must keep from Brooklyn, beautiful artwork the kids have colored….and colored….and COLORED….crayons and camera bags, my husband’s lunch box, lost sippy cups with apple juice fermenting in them, hair clips and toys that have been deemed a choking hazard and put out of the baby’s reach.

To put it simply, it has become the CATCH-ALL.  The place that objects go to DIE.  The Black Hole of the House.  There will be no beautiful family dinners there because I can’t seem to get my act together and get it completely cleaned OFF!

I don’t invite the Youth over because I don’t want them to see my Black Hole.  I don’t have the Youth girls over no matter how much I’d LOVE to, because then they would know about my problem keeping my life and home together.  I don’t invite friends over without a week’s notice…and I LOVE to have friends over!

They will see how Mount Laundry has hopelessly spilled out of the laundry room into little sorted piles in my hallway because it was not designed to hold the laundry capacity of 8 people.  It’s only 5 ft wide for goodness sakes.  They will see the CLEAN pile of laundry in the laundry basket I can never seem to find the bottom to…..it’s never, ever empty or below the height of Little Man.  :/

It’s hopeless.  I’m hating my dirty little secret and the person I’ve become worrying and stressing over it.

Everyone else’s house is so perfectly clean.

Right?

It’s ALWAYS so clean when I go over to everyone else’s house…it’s NEVER messy with piles of laundry in the hallway or piles of papers on the kitchen table or dirty sippy cups and bottles in the sink.

Right?

Well, that is what my brain always tells me….I’m a loser.  I actually DISTINCTLY remember hearing recently, “Messy house, messy life!”, and it has HAUNTED me.  I am a total and complete failure.  My life must be in total shambles…

And then…..a very dear friend of mine did the SWEETEST thing I think anyone has ever done for me (since the whole DIET-CHERRY-LIMEADE-FROM SONIC from a friend on a particularly rough day)….

She sent me PICTURES of her clutter.

And told me it’s normal.

I sat there staring at the pictures of on my cell phone and actually sat down and cried in the middle of my kitchen floor.

I am not a failure.  I am not a loser.  And my life is not in complete disarray.

I have children.  I have foster children.

I play with them.  I sing with them.  I do funny little games and dance stupid in the kitchen with them to really loud music.  I let them crawl all over me and sit on me/beside me/on each leg/between my legs/and on the back of the couch at each shoulder so we can read every book they bring to me and everyone is within view of the pictures.

I am present.

I am present in their lives, probably more than they could ever want or need.  I am there.

I let them cook with me in the kitchen even though it takes 3 times longer and it’s probably filled with every germ imaginable, and the kitchen is utterly destroyed.

When they are old and gray and bouncing their grandchildren on their knee, I hope they remember that.  I hope they remember that I was present.

I am there with them and for them.

I have children.  I have foster children.

So, this is my I-CAN’T-BELIEVE-I’M-ABOUT-TO-DO-THIS moment.

Hi, my name is Dana and I am not perfect:

This is my Black Hole.  Yes, that is piles of papers, weird teething pacifiers, piles of Bibles, sidewalk chalk I had to take away from the kids because they were coloring each other’s faces with Indian war paint, and a tin of popcorn from Christmas no one eats.

This is my kitchen counter that was clean this morning when I woke up.  Those are Princess Tiana’s babies, Little Man’s water bottle to keep him super hydrated, and Baby Boy’s sippy cup he kept leaving all over the place.  And the beautiful flowers the Littles picked for me (hopefully not out of a neighbor’s yard.  If so, I apologize).  I can’t throw them out because they cry when I try to.  I can’t see that look on their face, so one day, they will just BE GONE and I pray they won’t notice.  Much like the dead bird in the bird cage.  Please don’t tell them what happened to it.

This is my dirty sink filled with dirty sippy cups.  And baby bottles.  And I really need to clean that sink.  Probably with bleach.

This is my other counter with random weird stuff from the dishwasher that my dishwasher-unloaders can’t seem to put away.  I don’t know why.  The humidifier that needs to be put into Brooklyn’s room for her constant nosebleeds.  The cheap Cheerios Chandler had to eat for breakfast and then informed me it was for BABIES and could I PLEASE buy something good.  Why is the mayo out??  OK, some things I can’t explain.

UGH, this one is just disgusting.  I really need to fix that….it’s my microwave with food splattered on it and many, many, many fingerprints and smears from “helpful” children that like to cook with me.  It’s gross. I see that.

OK, let me sum it up:

It’s alright. 

I give you permission to try your best with the housework, and then shake it off.  I give you permission to do the best that you can do, and then sit down with your kids when they need you.  I give you permission to dance stupid in your kitchen to music none of your kids have heard of (or Yo Gabba Gabba….come on, that stuff is RAD!  LOL), and wipe off the counter with one hand if you aren’t holding a teething baby with that hand.

I am telling you, we are mothers.  We are fathers.  We are busy.  We need to be present for our children.

And really?  If this post bothers you?  Feel free to come over and help me.  Feel free to grab a load of laundry and fold it and put it away.  Feel free to wipe down the microwave after I’m done cooking with my babies.  Feel free to NEVER EVER come over to my house again, or to talk to me ever again.  You can even unfriend me from Facebook.  😉

This is normal life and I’m going to do the best I can with it.

I give you permission to do the same.

It’s TIME we let each other off the hook and come clean with our dirty little secret.  It’s TIME we let each other know…..NONE of us are perfect.  We’re all just trying to make it through all in one piece.

And it’s OK.

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