06 Mar 2013

For the days you think everyone else has it altogether

For when you get to the end of a long snow day and look around the house and wonder, how? Just how does it always come down to this? The juggernaut of chaos that lives in between these walls. You still wearing the long sleeve TShirt you stole from your little brother last time you were home. Or maybe the time before that.

And the boys who made all this mess, they wilt and whine and drop down on the floor in a pretty good imitation of sinking sand at the suggestion that they pick it all up again. Maybe you’re losing your voice by then and maybe you’re thinking that the neighbor up the road, she doesn’t have these sort of hamster wheel conversations and if only you could live up to your own ideal of a day at home.

But maybe you remember what someone else said, how this season of raising small humans is the sweat and blood and tears of growing futures out of a whole lot of muddy beginnings and it’s OK to be tired. It’s OK that your hair is clipped back at a crazed angle. So, OK that you remember to laugh instead of sigh when you catch sight of it in the mirror.

And maybe those verses about “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden” applies to moms of preschoolers and toddlers too and that it’s the exact kind of theology you need at the end of your day and your rope and your supply of reserves. Cheerios crushed under foot. Snow pants hanging from the shower curtain rail, the kitchen chairs, the bunk beds.

Chances are there are icy, wet footprints melting into carpets across this neighborhood. This isn’t failure, this is living. This is life with kids and it’s OK that it tires you, just don’t let it defeat you. Drag the vacuum out again. And again. But don’t stop sending them out to play in their pink Hello Kitty boots and your own red gloves, Lisa-Jo. Don’t stop that part.

Just put in another tray of chocolate chip cookies while they’re outside.

And that good man, he lets them ride him cowboy, piggy back when they’re too cold to be booted back outside, but too riled up to be still. While you’re dishing up the fifth helping for the Michigander, you will stop, set the knife aside and step around the corner just to watch. You will see him, this man you’ve known since he turned 21. You will see him strapped down by the skinny arms and legs of three enthusiastic kids, glasses knocked off his head and no hope of surrender.

It’s enough to give a girl fleeting thoughts of a fourth.

No one has perfect figured out. No one makes it through the day with a perfect score. Heck, no one should be keeping score. Peter once told me that he doesn’t want to live in a museum. And tonight I laugh as I look around every single surface spilling over snacks and brown paper rolls pillaged from inside left over gift wrap and abandoned after just one round of sword play.

This is the heart beat of a home.

All that mess that makes you want to pull out your hair? That’s the good stuff, right there. That’s your pulpit and a day that’s preached home and grace and creativity and fresh mercies all in the span of 12 power packed hours. Go ahead. Put down the paper towels for a minute. Sit down. Put your feet up. Pour a cup of tea.

And just revel in a day well done.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I almost looked at the two baskets of clothes that didn’t get folded yet today, but instead decided to read your post and will now things on the things that did, like sneaking out with my husband for a bit and making curtains with my mom and watching my husband and son build a bookcase and eating dinner with my family. Thanks, Lisa-Jo!

  2. 2

    Perfect and exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you

  3. 3

    I adore this post. Such a good reminder!

  4. 4
    Valarie says:

    Well said, love every word!! Thank you.

  5. 5

    Thank you for this. I linked back here today because you said it better than I am able in this moment of joyous weariness.

  6. 6

    It’s the end of the very same snow day here, with these three crazy small folk of my own and the man wrestling them through the afternoon in a fit of laughter, while mama tries to fit in all of her work-from-home necessities though the rest of the household is free for the day. And everything is a mess and the cookies are cooling on the counter. But it’s good. Worth it. Thank you for reminding me, friend. xo

    • 7
      Lisa-Jo says:

      Once again, the bitter irony that we aren’t actual neighbors, only neighbors-in-state.

  7. 8

    “This isn’t failure, this is living.”

    What a perfectly succinct comment.
    Thank you.

  8. 9

    Dang that’s good. Can we be friends?

  9. 11

    How do you manage to capture every day in the most perfect words? It wasn’t a snow day, here, though it flurried all morning, but that line about this mess being my pulpit…that I needed to hear. The Spirit speaks through you and blesses me!

  10. 12

    Lisa-Jo, I just love you. Thanks for the reminder to keep things in perspective and for the encouragement that we are not alone in our struggles. :)

  11. 13

    This is poetry at its finest. Thank you for calming my frantic grasps at a cleaner more perfect home, and helping me live in the rhythm of life with grace.

  12. 14

    Thanks, Lisa-Jo! Just what I needed to read tonight! All about learning “the unforced rhythms of grace.”(Message)

  13. 15

    Needed that right there. A lot.

  14. 16

    Your posts are always so full of encouragement. I particularly liked your point: “This isn’t failure. This is living.” As a mother of young ones, I appreciate others like you who know what it’s like to live my life and to see how God pours His grace all over it.

  15. 17

    I love you, Lisa Jo. I was just so upset about the chaos that is bedtime and then I read this. It brought tears to my eyes. You always seen to know what’s on my heart.

  16. 18

    I really, REALLY needed this today. Thank you. <3

  17. 19

    Yet another post to remind me why you are my favorite online-mentor. I just want to sit down with you for hours…

    Thank you for dispensing grace to us tired mamas…who have been behind on laundry for oh…6 months? And who can’t seem to keep a single room of the house clean.

    Loved the Jon Acuff article. Loved your words. And love my very own, non-museum mess that says I took time today to answer requests like: “make the shark talk, mama,” or “read this to me.” It reminds me that I said “yes” to a wild and wildly loved two year old and seven month old. Even when I wanted a clean house instead. ;)

    • 20

      Yes yes yes, I often have to remind myself that perfect is never as interesting as real.

  18. 21

    How do you continue to just KNOW what goes on in my house too!? ;) LOVE these words and thankful for the beauty of, yes, even soggy from snow gloves, socks after they traipsed in from playing in the same snowfall! (And feeling glad that I made the last-minute decision to spend a few minutes out there myself with them). Thanks for sharing your heart.

    • 22

      Mine went through all the gloves till they were down to socks on their hands….

  19. 23

    how do you make it all make sense?
    I fell down the stairs today… bested by Boba Fett’s mini Lego helmet which was lying in wait under the Giant’s sock…. I probably would have seen it, but the Hound of Hell was outside alerting the Entire Kindgom that she was stuck… outside… in the snow… And this giant Snow Beast of a St. BBernard does not care to be cold… *sigh*

    So Boba Fett and I, we came to an agreement… and rather than scream and holler (other than the initial screams of shock as I bounced down the oak steps on my ample behind…) I laid his little hat on the Boy’s desk…. and gathered up all the socks and put the into the basket…

    and for today… THIS day…. I remembered to be grateful that they actually threw the laundry down the stairs before they left for their days in an effort to make MINE easier…

    So many days I forget this though…

    You never seem to forget….

  20. 25

    Yep. You’re right. You’re always right. I’d hate you for always being so right, except that I just love you. Sitting with my feet up, right now, LJ’s orders.

    Today I managed to execute my incredible plan with precision and herculean effort to get the baby, toddler, and preschooler up, fed, dressed, and out of the house all the way to Costco where I was planning to buy a membership (we don’t go out much in the winter…). This took from 6:30am until just after 9am when we pulled out of the driveway. At 9:17 we pulled up to the Costco parking lot where I discovered they didn’t open for 40 minutes. We sat and waited, then went in a navigated the crazy for 2.5 hours, spent too much money, agonized over budget, made a mid-trip potty break, jiggled a babe to sleep in the ergo, negotiated with whining children to please speak kindly, and bought them ice cream for a job well done. Then we went home, unloaded the van, cleaned out the fridge, made supper… I could go on, but I’ll stop there. You’re right, I did a freaking amazing job today. Thanks for the reminder :)

  21. 28
    Paula Southworth says:

    Lisa, I so wish that I had your blog to read when my 3 (2 boys (now 15 & 12) & a little girl (now 11)), were little. I just about wore myself out trying to keep the house in order……..wish I had played more. Now I try to allow myself to be constantly interrupted by “come watch this with me mom” or “come & have a look at this cool ……..”, whatever it is. Time goes far too quickly with them. When I complained about the mess, a sweet widow in her 70’s, once told me, with a wistful look, that nothing ever gets moved in her house, it just stays the same. Enjoy the chaos & the noise, for some day it will be quiet & still…..and we will miss it. Thank you so much for the beautiful way your encourage others. I love reading your blog. Bless you heaps : )

    • 29

      A friend gave me the best advice at my baby shower. She told the story of her son running into the kitchen saying Mom coming looking at this, she was washing dishes and said in a moment. He went out and came back with his hands in his pocket and his head hanging down she had finished the dishes and she said ok what do you want me to see, he said never mind it’s all gone, she said what’s all gone, he said the sunset. She realized at that moment those dishes they well still be there but that moment, that sunset with her son, it was gone and would not happen again. I have kept that story close to mind when I get “busy” and my little guy wants my attention…because as you said it passes so quickly, the busy-ness, the mess, the house stuff will always be there. Thanks for affirming that story for me.

  22. 30

    Never thought of it as a pulpit before – but you’re right. Thanks for the gentle reminder.

  23. 31

    Ah, thanks, Lisa. I’m sitting here, finishing my tea, having just written about the grace for today, and the grace that will be there tomorrow. The grace I can’t feel yet because tomorrow’s not here. I get so mad at the inconveniences and frustrations and the seriously-you-are-going-to-take-an-hour-to-go-pee? moments. I’m just so tired, and up past my bedtime. But you’re right. This is life. This is THE life. One so many people would love to have, and really, it’s the one God gave me so that’s even better. Thanks for the snapshot.

  24. 32

    It is hard to be a peace surrounded by the clutter. But as one body — we can only do what we can do. As cold as it is, I am stunned that it is March already. Yesterday it was Thanksgiving. If we don’t stop and relax in the chaos — our time here will be up before we know it.

  25. 33
    Renee K says:

    We don’t have snow days in Florida, but this was still JUST what I needed this morning! Thank you!

  26. 34

    This is beautiful. My husband has also reminded me at times, “this isn’t a museum. It’s our home.” I sometimes need this reminder.

  27. 35

    “It’s enough to give a girl fleeting thoughts of a fourth.”

    In that you have captured the mystery of motherhood, I think. :-)

    Four was perfect for me. Just sayin’. :-)

    Beautiful post,


  28. 36

    Thank you, Lisa-Jo. A thousand times, thank you.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fretted over the Legos, the socks (the ENDLESS supply of socks that can ever be found when they need them!), the snack wrappers, and on and on……

    Thank you for helping me to look at this beautiful life God has given me and for helping me to see it as the gift that it is.

    You, Lisa-Jo, are also a gift.

  29. 37

    On behalf of moms everywhere, thank you.

  30. 38

    a wonderful post and a must read for every mummy chasing their own sanity….that’s me by the way! x

  31. 39

    Excellent post. I love how you make the mundane seem extraordinary!

  32. 40

    This is what I hope for my family assuming the Lord allows me to get married soon. 37 years old and still single! AHHH!!!! :D

  33. 41

    Totally could relate. Last night as we sat down for dinner and the house felt cluttered and messy and both my 3 yr old and hubby had an intense energy about them and I felt like I just wanted to yell Calgon take me away, I took a moment and just breathed and then dinner was done and the boys went into the living room to put together the shelf we bought for my sons room and they worked together as a team and my little guy played in the big box pretending he was in a rocket ship and then he helped Dad put the shelf together hammering the pegs that were ok for him to hammer with his plastic hammer and at that moment I remembered this is what it’s all about, this is why God allows us to have children to know what He feels like when He sees His children working together and doing what He put them here to do. What a happy moment it was, clutter and all.

  34. 42

    Lisa Jo…how I dearly wish I’d had a you to encourage me and bless me through her words as you do today, when I was a young Mom. I think some of the fuzz and fog and flat out fear would have been cleared away. God is gifting you girl and I just know He’s using your words to make a world of difference in the lives of real world mothers everywhere…and that flows on out to their children and tickles the heart of God. And by-the-way, I may not have little ones anymore (mine are 28 and 24) but there are treasures to be uncovered in this here blog post (and I’m going to be searching other offerings of yours too) just for me.

    Bless you (and your sweet smile that makes me grin absolutely every time I see it on twitter or here)

  35. 43

    A fourth! Yay!

    Lisa-Jo, this post coincides exactly with an Instagram photo I shared yesterday. It was a photo of little toy cars spread all over the carpet and I wrote:

    It takes everything within me not to constantly pick up these cars that are scattered throughout the home. What stops me is the reminder that I will miss these cars when they are traded in for hanging out with friends or sports practices and/or anything else that will remove the attention from wanting to be at home. It’s also good to remember that my big and little man need to feel this is their home too. My home should never look so perfect that it doesn’t look lived in. ‘Cause there’s a whole lotta livin’ going on. #alifewelldone #parenting #mothering #mobsociety

    So, I feel ‘ya girl! Thanks for the reminder.

  36. 44

    We’re parents to a 16 month old and are currently trying to sell our house. It’s been on the market a bit over a month now and in the last week we’ve had showing, after showing, after showing. We’re so grateful for the interest but our patience with our curious little lady is wearing thin, we’ve even jokingly started calling her the “anti-clean.” I so needed this as I prepare for yet another showing and wait for an offer. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  37. 45

    This is so good! Thanks for the reminder!!

  38. 46

    Our weekend very much resembles this, this week. Thanks for the words of reminder that no one makes it thorough the day with a perfect score (and that there’s no need for a score)! So beautifully true!

  39. 47

    Thanks for the reminder. There is no such thing as perfection. And the little imperfections are what make our lives real and build memories for ourselves and our children. We need to be kind to ourselves and remember that the chaos and the mess are part of a living, loving home!

  40. 48

    You always inspire me!!!!

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