A small plaque hangs on my kitchen wall. It simply reads, 'Messy floors, dirty dishes, happy kids.'
A motto I've lived by for many years. But it wasn't always a motto to the fore of my life.
When my three boys were little, I was a full-time Mum and in the home all day. I didn't drive and so I was either at home with the children, or out walking with the children. But during these days I was also very very house proud. I would clean the house from top to bottom every morning (any friends reading this will genuinely think I'm lying).
Before my eldest son would go out to school in the morning, my house was spotless. This lasted for a few years. But then I changed.
I genuinely do not recall what changed in me. But, in hindsight, it was one of the biggest, and by far one of the best changes I made in my role as mother. I recall making the children take their shoes off before coming into the house - this was/is their home.
Making them take off their shoes was very wrong of me I now believe. I would spend ages cleaning the house and tidying away all the toys if someone came to visit. Looking back, those toys scattered around the rooms was part of who my children were and what they were doing with their day. I would spend hours each month washing down walls to wash away hand prints and other smudges the children made.
But it all changed.
And with that change came a much happier, more relaxed mother, ME. Seeing dirty footprints on the kitchen floor let me know that my children had been outside playing. Seeing painted hand prints on the bedroom wall let me know that my children were being messy but they were being creative. Stepping on Lego at almost every turn let me know that my boys were building with their imagination in every room. This wasn't a mess. This was a home with children.
Looking back on those days now as I have three adult sons, is blissful. Had I not made that change in time, I would be looking back now with so many regrets. I see so many parents now with the perfect house. The tidiest of rooms. And I see no sign of the children. They're stuck behind a screen and there's no mess. There are no painted hands on the wall. There's no Lego on the floor. There's just neat and tidy.
Today, as I walk into my very cluttered and untidy home, I still smile. I smile because I allowed myself to change before it was too late. Before my children grew up and knew nothing other than a neat freak mother. Maybe today I'm too far the other way (neat freak -no idea what that is anymore), but I'm content with who I am. Rushing at 8 am to get the hoover out was a stressed mother determined to get the house cleaned first thing every day, did not add to a contented, happy person.
Ferris Bueller from the classic film, Ferris Bueller's Day Off says at the very end: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." I very nearly did.