life is short

Life is Short So Embrace the Mess

There have been a number of times I’ve been disappointed with the Academy Awards. One of the biggest was when The LEGO® Movie wasn’t even nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. It was brilliant, but it was the ending that hit me with an important lesson. Spoiler Alert: I’m going to talk about the ending. So if you have not seen it, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. If you are continuing, I am assuming you have seen it or don’t care about the ending being spoiled. The ending reveals that the story is about a father and son. The father builds a huge LEGO® city with order and coordination and forbids his son to play with it. When the son does play with it, he mixes up the perfect creation, leaving the father horrified. I can relate on many levels.

When my wife and I got married, one of the first things we did was create a home. We created a relaxing sanctuary of beauty and comfort. Then we had kids whom we love in a way that can’t be measured. But those kids have wrecked that beautiful place. In fact, they wreck it daily. It’s like the book of Genesis. No one destroys a house like my kids. In three minutes, they will find a way to get every toy in the house on the floor. It’s an amazing skill. If I even think about giving them food or a drink, it will end up on their clothes or mine. As for me, I love cleanliness while clutter makes my skin crawl. However, I have realized a couple of things lately that has caused me to embrace the mess. Here are 3 reasons why you should too.

1. Life is short.

One of my favorite shows was Parenthood. In a great scene, a dad (Crosby) is talking to his father (Zeek) about all of the stresses and chaos of having young kids. Zeek says, “It all goes by so fast. You’ve got to figure out a way to enjoy it.” We can spend all of our time looking to the future when things will finally be better, easier, and more controllable. I have to admit I do that a lot and I miss out on the wonder of today.

2. Our window of influence is infinitely short. [Tweet This]

We probably have around 20 years or even less of nurturing opportunity with our kids before they launch. If our life expectancy is 80 that means that we only have 25% of our life to really be with our children before they venture out. What we do with that 25% will impact generations to come. I once heard Jeff Foxworthy say, “The days can drag, but the months and years fly by.” We need to make the most of each day.

3. The adventure will come to an end.

Someday the mess will be gone and when it is, I think I’ll miss it. My kids are unpredictable and that can have me on edge, but it also makes life exciting. The range and depth of emotions they awaken in me are thrilling. Every day is an adventure with them and I need to approach it that way.

Sound Off

What do you think you will you miss the most when your kids have grown up?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Deer Hurs

    So true! I wish I could go back to when my oldest were toddlers and stop and smell the roses more. They are still young (10 & 8) so I try to do just that, but man…I want to have a do-over when they were 3 and 18 months!!! I feel like I’ve been better with my youngest two, but there’s always room for improvement (putting down the smart phone when I get home from work is a good start). Thanks BJ!

    • BJ_Foster

      You’re welcome! Seems like the age you are in would be a fun one too.

  • Paul_Sp

    I disagree that if parents prefer cleanliness and the kids are slobs that the parents should capitulate to the kids’ preferences.

    Compromise is prob in order, and developmental stages need to be considered, but the kids shouldn’t rule the roost and have much more to learn than the parents do.

    • BJ_Foster

      No that is not what I was saying. Don’t misunderstand me. Our kids don’t “rule the roost.” We teach our kids to clean up the messes they create at the end of every night. It takes time and effort, maybe even more than if I cleaned it myself. I would prefer that it is NEVER messy. My point is that when I walk in and their toys are everywhere I should embrace the age they are in and get down on floor and play with them rather than immediately obsess about order and cleanliness.

      • Paul_Sp

        Depends on how much space you have, what the parent’s comfort level is with kid messes, other variables.
        When I was young, there were areas we could keep “kid messy” and other areas we’d better not mess up or else!
        We weren’t harmed by rules according to mom’s preferences.

  • Stephen Owens

    Thanks for this reminder. One of the biggest agitators for my wife is when I come home and start cleaning up. I hate clutter and am trying to help, but need to recognize that having a 5 & 1 year old = clutter.

    They’ll remember time with me, I hope, not a clean house. Funny thing is, sadly, I only remember a clean house.

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