now the windows stay clean

I’m sitting here in my house, my very quiet house, on my couch in a living room where there are no toys everywhere and with a kitchen that is tidy and I happened to look out my window.

It’s clean.

There isn’t a handprint on it. No smudges of faces smashed up to it on either side. It’s just clean.

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And somehow, even though I knew the day would happen, here it’s happened.

For years I would think about how I wish I had time to get to the windows and clean those handprints and smudges off. I’d write to you about the chaos of laundry and toys everywhere and markers on the wall and the absolute crazy of having littles under five in my home every single day. We’d laugh and joke about how the sounds of mo-oo-ooo-oo-m seemed to happen on 11 second intervals and that sometimes mid day the only escape was the shower.

When I was in the middle of those days the time seemed to move backwards. I’d clean one room only to come to the next room to find it messed up and then I’d loop back to the original room. And now today, today I’m wondering what I could clean. Should I sort the clothes and refold them? Because, well, just like my window it’s all clean.

I didn’t believe there would be a day where I’d vacillate between celebrating everything I wanted to stay the way it was and missing the noise and chaos and legos underfoot. Well, maybe not the legos, but the rest.

I know that there are so many of you right now with littles in your lives. And my first words to you are – hang on. Yes, hang on. Because life with littles is a whole lot of hanging on. I used to hate that expression, truly I did. Because I was so ridiculously tired already and the to-do list was indexed on Google, but now I get it. I get it because I hung on – for almost twenty years of having a little in my house – and now, now all of a sudden I can breathe.

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In the midst of all of the hanging on those littles grew and grew and grew.

Now, don’t get my wrong, my hands are calloused from so many years of hanging. But, oh my, in those hanging on years I learned what you’re learning right now. I learned how to function on no sleep. I learned to breathe in the simple moments. I learned how to multi-task to such a degree that there should be a book on it. I learned to not apologize for those splotchy windows but to rather welcome my friends in my house – my messy, lived in house. I learned to let go. I learned.

So hanging on mom, hang on.

There will come a day in your life when you can fully get that breath. When you can look and see those windows shining and the beds made. But until then, until then don’t fight the crazy. You don’t have to embrace every moment – because that – that would drive us crazy. But, but what I finally learned now that I’m through is that that chaos was exactly what was meant to be experienced when we have littles.

Without those years of crazy I wouldn’t appreciate the simple moments the way I do. I wouldn’t have that absolute joy as I find my kindergartener’s face in the crowd and it lights up when he sees me. I wouldn’t understand why the crock pot is God’s gift to moms. I wouldn’t know that I could get a break by buckling the kids all in the car and going through the drive thru at Starbucks. I wouldn’t know what it was like to take sweet little naps with a two year old nestled in my arms. I wouldn’t know.

I’m so glad for those years.

I am.

So as I finish these words, my heart has that bittersweet mix of melancholy and victory. My eyes are welled with tears. Maybe because I didn’t realize how silent the house could really be and how I miss the energy of those littles that I love filling the spaces with life.

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So sweet hanging on mom, I believe in you.

That’s so what I wanted to hear all those years – someone who believed in what I was doing and saw the absolute power and beauty of those years. I see it, I see it now. ┬áDon’t look at your life as messy or chaotic and feel like you need to apologize for where you are or that your toddler is wearing mismatched clothes or that there are markers all over the table and toys on the floor.

Do you know why?

Because, that, my friend, is exactly where you are and exactly what should be.

Hang on.

~Rachel

who will be rereading this post on Sunday night after chaos was re-introduced. lol.

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7 Responses to “now the windows stay clean”

  1. September 11, 2015

    Shelley Reply

    “Home” by Edgar A. Guest

  2. September 11, 2015

    Stephanie Scarborough Reply

    This is soooo the truth! Messy can drive you crazy! But so can the pick up. I feel separating days into clean or messy. It will get cleaned up, because you know it reaches a point wear the chores zone starts, you will get that house clean in only three hours! And it feels great when you do! Then you can go play with your little ones! And start the messy process all over again….but create long lasting memories! Thank you for this posts! Truly inspiring!

  3. September 11, 2015

    heather Reply

    This is something that could have come straight from my Mother’s mouth. It is written beautifully. Thanks for the reminder :)

  4. September 13, 2015

    Teresa Reply

    Thank you. That’s exactly what I needed to hear today.

  5. February 29, 2016

    michelle Reply

    Absolutely true! Even though for us who are in the middle of the chaos it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel….I do know it will come. I also know that when the calmness sets in and the house is quiet….in some strange way….I will miss the chaos!

  6. August 16, 2016

    Pam Bauman Reply

    This is a beautiful article. And I likely would have disregarded what I am about to say, wen I was in the thick of the “little” years. And the business of my children’s school years. On Sunday night we saw our second (and last) “baby” off to college. On the opposite coast. And his sister, two years older, is in Germany on a summer internship before returning to college. Yes…it is a fact that (in hindsight) 18 years go by in the blink of an eye, it feels like yesterday we were in those shoes. And the house feels strangely silent and empty today. But we also see that every one of those moments, good, bad, exhausting, exhilarating…led to this successful launch. So yep…HANG IN! Bittersweet, but this is what it is all about.

  7. September 14, 2017

    Minnie Meyer. Reply

    Talking about mess all over the floor was not a big problem for me as our eldest of five is 57, we did not have money to buy many toys in those days.I had my last ( of five) when the oldest was in her 19th year,so I never felt like an empty nester, She was 6 when she became an aunt.I just wish that more info was available on parenting in those days as we had only Dr. Spock’s book.We also fostered 8 children twice for two siblings and 4 newborn babies over the years.There is so much more to say but I don’t want to bore you! Thanks for providing that article.

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