So, we have a toddler now. What I mean is that we have a roommate who clings to our legs, can turn any room into a complete disaster in seconds, loves to tell us what he wants in his grunty little language, runs from one side of the house to the other in a blink of an eye, always wants to eat a banana, climbs anything that will get him higher than he got yesterday, carries piles of sticks inside because they each are treasures to him, and constantly is searching for his or our belly buttons. Hayes has fully entered toddlerhood in the last month. Just when we thought we couldn’t love him more, more of who he is is emerging and shows us it is possible. The new world of toddlerhood has brought shifts of reality with the more independent, opinionated, aware of his world, and capable he becomes each day and week. The ups and downs already are different than they ever were with babyhood, but because of the last year, I know Hayes won’t be the only one growing during this time.
My expectations of clean and put together are far less than they were even 4 months ago. As someone who thrives in a clean and organized home and having everything in its place, our little fuzzy headed roommate has taught me that being fully put together is completely overrated. His joy while making a mess splashing in the dogs’ water bowl or ripping everything out of every cupboard in the kitchen far outweighs the peace a perfectly placed house brings to me these days. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a good 45 minutes to an hour every day putting things back while he takes his naps. At first, these moments unnerved me and I would spend his whole awake time chasing him around the house and picking up after him. I then would typically turn around and everything I cleaned up had been ripped apart all over again. It left me frustrated beyond belief. Finally, one day out of exhaustion I decided to sit down on the floor with him and we talked about all the things he had pulled out of the cupboard and built towers with them instead of putting them away. We played with the mess there on unswept kitchen floors and laughed, giggled, and I got lots of hugs. There was a mess around us, his hair had food in it, and my shoulder was covered in slobber from him using me as a teether, but that was when I realized I was beginning to relearn the meaning of the word perfect.
When carrying Hayes I had this expectation that all parts of his life would be well-designed, not mainstream, that books would all encourage color exploration and the fonts would never be poorly chosen. I wanted a well-lit room so I could take all sorts of dreamy photos of him sleeping during the day and a room that was always perfectly in place. He has shown me that those things don’t matter and if they do it is only for me, but I realize I actually care very little about those things. He has shown me that he can have a pacifier that isn’t the cute one every Instagram baby uses. He has shown me that motherhood isn’t about taking a photo that isn’t blurry or capturing every moment of every day in the perfect lighting. He has shown me motherhood is about wild dance parties to the music he likes on a Friday night as a family. It is about knees covered in dirt and even an occasional bloody lip and bump on the head for everyone involved. He has shown me perfect isn’t the crisp clean shirt, but the one that has food left on it from breakfast because we played peekaboo and laughed really hard about it while he grabbed my sleeves to find me. He has shown me that perfect isn’t about things being organized neatly and in their place, but about the love and attention we give to one another and the moments that ensue from being present with one another amongst the mess.
I have learned that bedheads are not just cute but the kind of perfect that I want to embrace in my life. I learned that shoes are meant to get muddy and wet and dirty and pants should have mud on the knees because that is what a washer is for. I have learned we forget to brush our teeth sometimes and we live through it. I have learned I would rather have an unmade bed because we tossled and played in it one morning than one that never was giggled or cuddled in all day out of fear of messing it up. I may be unshowered most mornings because I stayed up late finishing work so I could be there for him the rest of the day, but he doesn’t care and I have learned to not to either. The floors may need to be swept and there may be piles of dust and dog hair in the corners, but there are a lot of giggles, hugs, and fun that we have had on those dirty unswept floors beside the piles of laundry. These are the places I am learning what perfect means.
Perfect looks different to me now because to me, perfect has become more about being aware of the natural moments unfolding in front of us than how something looks on an Instagram grid. Perfect is about the things we make each other feel and how I get all emotional when he comes over for a hug or a kiss and I hope I always do. He has completely changed what perfect means to me.
I am continually learning as a mom what it means to find balance and presence with myself and him. I am also learning continually that expectations are limiting things. Sometimes we have to allow life to unfold as it is intended. Sometimes we will find the purest beauty in the most messy moments of life. Sometimes we will give up a deadline because we need extra cuddles and hugs and wrestling and time outside. The shifting of our idea of perfect in our house these last 13 months has been a welcomed thing for all of us. I feel very thankful for a new perspective on a word that now no longer feels unachievable.
Mike and I both said the other day to one another as we flew home from Texas and Hayes was asleep on both of us, that this just keeps getting better. In some way, he gets better, but in many ways, we lean into this process even more as parents and become far better than we ever could have imagined. We learn new things every day. Hayes shows us just what matters and what the world can wait on. Those are hard things to embrace and learn the older we get, but lately I am finding myself fighting the changes less and learning to embrace them with open arms. Ultimately these new lessons are freeing and welcome more life and less selfishness. I find myself having deeper joy and more purpose because of these shifts in our life. I get done what can be done and find calm in that as much as I can. I know that some day he will be running off to school and the house will be quiet and clean again just the way I wanted it before I learned clean isn’t a sign of perfection in our home. I will sit there just waiting for him to come home and make the kind of mess only he can. These days are fleeting so to spend them perfecting our world instead of embracing the perfectly imperfect moments is a fight I no longer want to have.
For now, we make the bed knowing it will be ripped apart because peekaboo with the puppies is most fun this way and we all will enjoy it more than I may ever enjoy the bed being made, which is saying a lot. We will embrace our bedheads and the cuteness of it because that fluffy hair completely steals our hearts every day. There will be muddy shoes and dirty knees on pants. We will have dirty dishes and find ourselves looking for random items from the kitchen under the couch, but these are all parts of our kind of perfect in our house these days.
Before I leave you, I wanted to share a post with you that really struck me this last week. It is from our May contributor, Hannah Stone. She has a blog called The Art In Lifee where she shares lots of amazing thoughts on motherhood. I completely ugly cried at my desk this weekend while reading this post she wrote about childcare. We have a wonderful sitter we love, but as we have started down the path of looking at socializing opportunities for him and more as he approaches 2 (so crazy to say that), I am dealing with a lot of mama emotions about it. This post from Hannah hit the nail on the head and I just had to share it so any other mamas who needed to read this could.
Tomorrow we will be giving Tips for Planning Your First Garden! Yeah I know I am so pumped to share this. I would love to hear other gardening things you guys would like to know. I know not all of you can grow much because you live in large cities, so tell me what things are useful to you as well so I can integrate those in the future as well.