It's all bittersweet. Time marches along and our babies get bigger and eventually they will leave us. Strangely enough, we want for them to leave us. We want them to be somewhat like us, adults with purpose and intent and independence.
Leo Babauta wrote a post on his lovely blog Zen Habits about the messes his (six) kids leave around the house and how he, as a neat freak, stays sane by viewing the legos on the floor and the cookie crumbs on the counter as unintentional love notes.
Some love notes from my sweet GiGi.
I adopted this mentality for laundry a couple years ago and it has helped immensely. My little family makes a helluva lotta laundry. Giovanna changes (and dirties) her clothes multiple times per day. Skyla poops on her clothes multiple times per day. James washes his clothes after every use. Add Emile, as mothers of little boys everywhere know, produces the dirtiest, stinkiest laundry.
But when Emile isn't home, when he's at his other home, my laundry pile decreases. And believe it or not, this makes me nostalgic. When James is traveling as he often does, the pile is even smaller. And while I appreciate the reprieve, I'd take the laundry over the absence of laundry any day.
I don't like chores. I don't like cleaning. I don't like doing dishes. But I enjoy the end result. The clear surfaces, the sparkly counters, the zen vibrations from a clean home, the calm before the storm. A clean home tricks me into thinking I've got everything together in life, that I'm the kind of person who does her taxes early instead of late, who regularly edits her wardrobe instead of hanging onto clothes for sentimental reasons, and who never makes impulse purchases.
This is not me.
I'm working on letting go of these idealisms. These pictures in my head of the woman I want to be. Serene and polished. A woman who conquers life (and life's messes) and looks good while doing it. A woman who moves her body daily and showers daily and eats local. A woman who writes without succumbing to distractions or inhibitions. A woman who loves without fear.
Though I believe in the value of these aspirations, I do not believe that achieving this ideal picture is the purpose of life.
Picasso said: "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."
Alas, it must be more important that I sit down to do my work rather than clean my kitchen or put the toys away or wash my hair.
Maybe it's not important that I have everything together. Is that possible?
Maybe my drawers are disorganized and that's okay.
Maybe my eyebrows are overgrown but I'm still beautiful.
Maybe my bed is rarely made but I am not a slob.
Maybe my computer memory is stuffed to its limit but my own memory is not.
Maybe I haven't practiced yoga for a few days but my body is happy anyways.
Maybe I haven't lost all the baby weight but I am healthy anyways.
Maybe I wasted too much time on Instagram/Facebook this week but I made some meaningful connections.
Maybe Giovanna and Emile make messes everywhere all the time but they're actually leaving me unintentional love notes.
Someday those love notes will slow and stop and I will miss the messes. Like I said, it's all bittersweet, another all-encompassing paradoxical truth to embrace.