Joy to the Mess

I see you, moms who send your kids to preschool in matching monogrammed festive wear. You look totes adorbs walking in to drop off all calm and collected.

I see you, and I raise you a toddler with no shoes and a single sock halfway on. We’ll hold the door – you go on ahead. I’ve got to finish brushing the McDonald’s biscuit crumbs off my kids’ pants before we go inside.

This is life.

Sometimes we all match. Most times I can’t tell you where their footwear went.

I don’t know if it’s because they are boys, or if it’s because they’re still little, or if it’s because they’re so close together, or if it’s simply because I just can’t function in a world of organization, but this stage of life is completely chaotic.

For instance, I found my youngest two inside the dryer yesterday. Door closed, yelling for the older one to come spin them.

That’s what we call a “Wednesday”.

Over Thanksgiving, we spent the week at my parents’.

One morning as I was getting ready in the bathroom, my mom looked over my shoulder and said, “Uhh…Davis is combing his hair with your dad’s razor.” I thanked her, grabbed the razor, and checked the blades for long baby hairs mixed in with adult beard ones.

A few minutes later, as I was loading the boys into the car, I heard my aunt say to the older two, “Let’s not do that!”

I looked up in time to see both of their faces in the exhaust pipe, sniffing furiously.

It’s life, man.

Tiny humans always on the move. Tiny hands always touching, tiny mouths always tasting, tiny feet always exploring.

The other day my friend told me she wanted to hide cameras in our house to see our daily happenings.

I told her she’d see a lot of white-person dancing she’d never be able unsee….but she’d also see a whole lot of fires being put out.

Not literal fires (although that’ll probably happen sooner than later).

Figurative ones.

“Fires” where at least one of my boys are doing something wildly destructive or highly dangerous behind my back.

Like trying to open a Go-GURT with a 6″ knife.


Or like the runt of the litter covering himself head to toe in sausage grease at breakfast.

(Bad news: I didn’t realize it wasn’t water until we had already left the house for the day.

Good news: sausage grease makes an incredible hair gel.)


Our home is always full of surprises.

Our days are full of energy.

We rarely – if ever – make it all the way through a store without someone stopping us and saying either,

“Oh, my! You sure have your hands full!”


“I bet they keep you busy!”


“Do these pants belong to one of your children?”

(Just kidding about the last one. Maybe.)

The comments are usually said with an air of condolence. Or even slight relief. Thank goodness it isn’t their life.

I see fellow shoppers try to mask their shock as 6 hands and 6 feet go in 6 different directions at 600mph.

I watch other people’s energy drain from being around our crew.

I hear well-meaning friends ask, “Are they always this loud?”


And, you know…it is crazy. They are crazy. Our home is crazy.

But holy wow is it a blast.

I think the parenting culture these days leads us into one of two categories: we pretend life isn’t messy (wrong) or we make victims out of our circumstances (also wrong).

Either, “Look at us, so prim and proper. No one ever poops and paints their crib with it during nap time.”

Or, “Woe is me…my kids make it really hard for me to do what I want when I want. They’re the worst. Isn’t this meme of needing an entire bottle of wine after a single day with my children hilarious?”

Like…can we meet somewhere in the middle?

Somewhere where we laugh at how chaotic life can be, but recognize the joy in the mess?

Somewhere where someone says, “You sure have your hands full!” and we reply with, “And you know what? It is crazy fun.”

It’s imperfectly, unPinteresty, wheels-off-ly wonderful.

Sometimes my kids smell exhaust pipes. Sometimes they roar in people’s faces. Sometimes they play with a blender blade that got misplaced in the tupperware drawer.

And it’s all good.

Or it’s not. But then it will be after a few bandaids.

The point is: there is such joy to be found in the mess.

Kids make messes, they are not the mess. They are our life. The greatest gifts we could ever be given. They should never doubt that.

In a culture of entitlement and self-interest, a social media world of filtered perfection, and a holiday season of matching family pajamas and immaculately decorated cookies, I don’t want to bemoan the mess. I want to celebrate the joy and laughter it brings. The belly-laughing, ear-splitting, heart-bursting joy they bring.

They’re doing this kid thing well.


I want to celebrate the joy…and the mess…and also the 2016 Brooks’ family Christmas tree. You know, the one where I put the inserts in the wrong order and I refuse to fix it because it makes us smile 14 times a day.

Love handles look good on you, Balsam Fir sir.


Bring it, Advent season.

May this be the messiest, loudest, glitteriest, shoeless, most meaningful one yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *