There are days when I think it would be easier to set fire to my house rather than muddle though the extreme mess any longer! Mess goes hand in hand with children. I remember my room as a kid. I used to make trails though the clutter just to get to my bed and closet. But I was a girl. Clutter meant tiny plastic toys, wooden blocks, tons of stuffed critters and paper crafts. Anyone living with a boy will understand that the kind of mess we deal with daily is filth! Mud, dirt, sticks, snakes, bugs, dead things, leaves, more dirt, worms that have a dirt of their own, slime and our latest… slugs. Joy!
I make messes of my own and have enough time and energy in the day to make and clean up my mess, provide for my families most basic food needs and then sit down for a rest. My son lives surrounded by clutter. He feels awkward without it. It’s his compulsion to create chaos within his surroundings. I’ve become accustomed to it. Learned to look past most of it.
On occasion I secretly sneak into their bedroom or toy room at night with my garbage sack and toss broken or annoying things. I then stuff the bag far down into the outside garbage and cover the bags with at least 5 feet of the stinkiest of garbage to discourage dumpster diving. You think that the bag going into that garbage would be sufficient, but no! Not with Jonah lurking around. I cannot tell you how many times my child has brought to me broken, smelly, dirty, smashed ‘things’ that I’ve tossed and that he’s dug out of the garbage! Then I have to put on my midnight bandit gear and head back into the room late at night for a clean swoop of the things I’d already tossed that were now growing strange smelly things all over them! I’ve learned that the best time to stuff the dumpster is the evening before garbage day. It much reduces my chances of reliving the scenes from Toy Story about sad toys who know their demise. I know they are all watching me and I do feel guilty every time I toss a toy that ‘looks at me’! And the WORST example of toy tossing guilt was when I tossed no other than Jonah’s Buzz Lightyear! This poor toy had lost both arms, wings were left dangling. He was just a torso with a head and a sound box. I kept that sad, sad toy around for over a year all broken and never played with out of guilt. I finally sucked it up and tossed the poor toy down into a crevice on the right side of the garbage can. But every time I opened that garbage lid and tossed something in, it triggered his sound box and I heard him shout ‘This is an intergalactic emergency!’ Imagine my horror.
Mess is mess. I have come to accept it, although I greatly despise it. My husband literally twitches when he comes into the house. The carpet creeps him out. He complains of ‘smells’ coming from the children’s room. Says their bathroom smells like a train station. I suspect he holds his breath most of the time while in the house. Too bad there’s not an app to remove bad smells. I am only one person, and a very hard working one at that. I cannot accomplish it all and when I consider what it would take to have that tidy little pinterest house I know it’s just not worth it to constantly fret about it. There’s better things to fret about, like in just 4 short years my boy’s childhood will nearly be extinct. In a few short years my kiddos will have grown enough to hopefully keep the mess down and then it will just be me and my mess (because my husband claims he makes none) and I will miss the little people who once cluttered my house and cultivated many of my grey hairs.
I recently read a blog post about clutter and friendship. The author claimed that once the mess got out of control in her house, she felt so bad that she stopped having people over. That she might need to de-friend some of her friends because they could not accept her because of the condition of her house. She encouraged those who came over for a visit to look past the mess, sit on her laundry filled couch and have a real conversation with her as a person. This hit home! I’ve stopped entertaining because of this exact reason! Not that I was much of an entertainer to begin with, but at one point we did have people over for dinner or a BBQ or to come watch a movie. The thought of having company over hasn’t entertained my thoughts for years because I just don’t have it in me to tidy my house for the critics. If you want to come over that’s great! But understand that it’s crazy here and you might run into a few worms or even worse… a slug.
I have always lived in a sort of organized chaos. I’m sure that’s why God picked me to be Jonah’s mom. I understand the need to create and creating causes mess before it results in something beautiful. Jonah has always been hands on and has a need for open space. His vice is digging. With his hands, with a shovel, with a rock, with the cats tail. It doesn’t matter. If he can use it, he will dig with it.
Living with Jonah is much like living with a loveable Labrador. We had a few of those growing up. These dogs were kind, and smelly and messy and we loved them. Yes, Jonah is much like a Labrador. He needs lots of exercise or he’ll chew up your stuff, or cut it or smash it or tear it apart with his little fingers. So, we gave him a digging hole. And he digs a lot! He says he’s excavating and that he’s building a sidewalk. He fills his ‘work zone’ with water (his other obsession), creates the perfect consistency of mud and begins to dig trenches. He fills these trenches with his perfect mud concoction and smooths it down, pats it and lets it dry. It’s actually quite brilliant. His understanding for these things is beyond me.
Jonah has a boss. He’s had him since he was 2. His name is Kink. I’m sure his boss is really his alter ego. This man does amazing things! And he’s great at construction. The things this man has done. He’s brilliant! Jonah also has workers. Gotta have someone to boss around right?! His workers are Box and Rocks. They aren’t around as much anymore. Maybe they have moved on to a new construction company? One time Box was involved in an accident in his white truck. It was fatal. But he miraculously came back to life ‘just like Jesus’ at the hospital! It only took him hours to heal up and get back on the job. Awesome for Box!
Jonah has his needs to dig, to feel the sun on his face and breath the fresh air and to make those amazing boy messes. So we let him. It causes problems at times, can be destructive and travels from yard to house, but I have to let him dig. He deserves his space. He’s not a scrapbooker, he’s a mudder. He doesn’t make cards, he makes mud murals. There’s beauty in that too. Beauty in the way his mind works. Beauty in his vision to build a hospital. These developing skills will benefit him in the future. He is channeling his interests and showing us his ‘love language’.
I’ve learned so much from this boy through simply observing him. He needs his workers and his boss to build his confidence. He role plays construction situations that are so similar to the real world. I’ve been commended by the autism specialists for allowing him to dig and giving him an outlet and space to be… Jonah. That’s what’s important to me. To allow my children to be themselves and to enjoy what they do best. This confidence in excelling at home, at something he loves, will help him build a foundation of success in the ‘real world’. His skills are practical and I am very excited to see what he does with himself as he gets older!
Mess is mess and it is temporary. I have future plans for new furniture, clean carpets and lots of entertaining dinner parties, but that can wait for now. I really do understand the cheesey quote ‘ Please excuse the mess, the children are making memories.’ It’s enough of a part of my life it could be my motto! So, I rest easy tonight amongst the clutter and the dirt on the carpets and the thought of that slug that did not remain in it’s container. Because outside, on the wall of the house my children left me a love note. Something so messy, that will be so hard to clean up, but also something so precious that I plan to keep it there for just a little longer 🙂 I love my kids and I choose to accept their mess.