Someone once said that trying to clean the house with little kids is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos.
I couldn't agree more.
I don't know which is more of a disaster - my house before attempting to clean it, or the chaos that follows once I start tackling the chores with the "help" of my children. Making the bed becomes a battle of sheets and blankets, folding laundry turns into fort-making piles of towels and towers of socks and underwear that eventually get shoved into drawers.
And then, in my effort to allow them to help, Matilda multi-tasks swiffering and holding the cat at the same time, only to end up slightly scratched and bursting into tears seconds later. (Not to mention the hissing feline hiding in the corner giving me the stink-eye. Sorry, buddy.)
I love that they want to help...I just don't want them to help. It's frustrating, it takes time, it take extra patience, and there are times I'd rather just let the house crumble around me than put up with the fighting and frustrations that manifest in the process. Whew. (Can I get an Amen Sister!)
It's within these moments of loud chaos that I find myself thinking "Kids ruin everything!" Usually this is instantly followed by a pang of guilt that turns into a prayer for extra grace and gratitude (Serenity now, Lord!) But, today, it occurred to me - "Yes, they DO! And thank God for it."
Life before children wasn't boring, but it was highly predictable. It was quieter, yes, but it was also much more static. (This isn't to say that child-free couples can't live dynamic, wonderfully full lives!) But, there are simply lessons I wouldn't have learned about myself had my children not thrown some wrenches into my efficiently-functioning-just-the-way-I-like-it wheelhouse.
There's a term in therapy we use to describe a system that keeps functioning according to status quo called homeostasis. It's not necessarily negative or positive, it's simply a way of keeping things going and maintaining stability and equilibrium within a system - in this case, my home. Change occurs when something from the outside rattles this ever-functioning system.
Change rarely occurs without discomfort. Growth can't happen without a few growing pains. And my children are constant reminders that they are in the best way completely ruining my comfort zone, my balance, my homeostasis.
My kids have ruined my very-conditional love. My kids have destroyed my lack of patience. My kids have obliterated my shallow capacity for grace. And they've completely thwarted all my attempts to remain selfish and focused on my wants over my needs.
I simply can't survive this ever-changing, crazy, unpredictable home without trusting God more, developing greater patience, love, and grace, and totally laying myself down day after day. I may live in a loud, messy house. It might get scary-bonkers at times. But, I'm grateful for the nonsense of this growth that continues to strengthen and challenge me hour by hour.
Kids ruin everything...perfectly.