Something I’ve been working on lately is trying to not freak out about every little mess the kids create. I know what you’re thinking, “But Jessica, you seem so easy going…” Oh yeah, I’ve got patience for daaaaayyyyssss….(#sarcasm)
I think I’ve come to grips with the fact that the living room and my kid’s rooms will never be sparkling clean for more than ten minutes at a time and that my car will perpetually have goldfish cracker dust and chocolate milk splatters everywhere. But when it comes to dirt/mud/grass/anything that should stay outside coming inside, well…that’s a whole different story.
The other day Huff the Tot wanted to play outside. Even though it had been a little rainy the day before, I figured it would do us all some good to get outside. I grabbed Huff the Babe’s bouncy seat and we all went outside for some sunshine. While HtB played happily in his seat, HtT was running around, looking for butterflies. I decided to get some steps in and just walked around the yard. It got quiet and I looked over to see HtT digging in the mud and using it to “paint” on the fence. Her pink pants were now a lovely shade of brown up to her calves and her hands were caked in mud.
I was about to say, “Stop! Get out of the mud! You’re making a mess!” but I stopped myself. She wasn’t hurting anyone, she wasn’t in any danger, and I reminded myself clothes can be washed. Instead of scolding, I walked over to her and said, “Hey sis, whatcha doing?” She looked at me and, for a moment, I think she thought she was going to get in trouble. When she saw I wasn’t freaking out, she smiled wide and said, “I’m painting, Momma! Look! Its us!”
My heart was so full! A moment later, my resolve was tested again. Huff the Tot eventually grew tired of the dirt and started swinging on her new swingset. Suddenly she jumped off and shouted, “I HAVE TO GO PEE PEE!” and ran to the back door.
CRAP! I thought. She’s going to get mud everywhere and I’m going to have to clean her off and ack! I gotta get the baby!
Being the control freak I am, I ran and grabbed her up before she could go inside.
I had her kick off her flip-flops and let her go to the bathroom. “I’ll be there in a second!” I called to her. “I need to get Bubby inside!”
A million scenarios ran through my mind and they all came to the same ending: there was going to be dirt and mud everywhere. I knew there would be a teeny little footprint path all the way to the bathroom as well as handprints on the walls. (Try to keep a threenager from touching the walls with dirty hands. See how THAT goes for ya…)
After I got HtB inside and settled, I went to the bathroom to help HtT. This is what I saw:
I very easily could’ve freaked out. My head immediately went to: “She’s going to be soaking wet! She shouldn’t be sitting on the counter, what if she fell?! Great, now I’m going to have to clean the sink for the second time today…” But, I took a breath.
Again, she wasn’t in any immediate danger. She was doing something helpful. She took it upon herself to clean herself up–my kid was exhibiting initiative and independence, how could I possibly be mad about that?!
I didn’t get on to her. I grabbed my phone, snapped a pic and said, “You’re doing a great job cleaning up!” My daughter beamed at me and said, “Thanks, Mommy! I’m a good helper, huh?”
It did my heart good to see my kid so excited. Would she have been so willing to be helpful had I gotten on to her outside and put the kabosh on playing in the mud instead of letting her just be a kid? Thankfully, I won’t know.
Now I’m not saying I’m perfect because lawd I know I’m still a control freak and like things done a certain way. And I may not ever be 100% okay with mud, dirt, and gunk. But, for now, I will revel in my tiny victory and use it as motivation for next time.