Let’s go on a walk through my house. My house in inhabited by my wife and I and three small humans that we’ve created over the last twelve+ years of marriage. We have a gorgeous kitchen table with a distressed look that would be perfect for posting various pictures to Instagram. But in reality our table is always covered with a plastic table cloth to make cleaning up daily spills an easier task. If you dare to peek underneath the table you will find the remnants of breakfast. And maybe lunch. And maybe dinner. Trying to keep the floor under the table clean is akin to Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down.
If you look at our walls you’ll find some really cool posters that reflect the nerdiness of my wife and I. We have Firefly posters (BROWNCOATS UNITE!) and Star Trek posters spread throughout the main floor and basement of our house. We also have family pictures and a few of my better attempts at photography. But underneath those pictures are some masterpieces of modern art. I’m talking about crayon, marker, pencil, and dirty hand prints all over the walls from about 18 inches to 36 inches in height. In fact, at eye level when you walk in our front door is a family photo from last fall and directly below it are the scribbles of one of our small humans tracing the outline of an air vent. We like to make sure that people know what they are getting into as soon they walk in the door. This is not a house that looks like a Pinterest board. It’s a house where small humans outnumber large humans and a whole lot of real life happens.
On any given day you’ll find various piles in our house. Piles of laundry. Piles of dishes. Piles of toys. Piles of mail. Piles of school supplies. Everywhere you turn is a pile waiting for a large human to make some order out of the chaos but, again, the large humans are outnumbered and the chaos is infinite in variety and intensity. Sometimes we can make some order out of the chaos but that usually doesn’t happen until after 7 pm. 7 pm is when the small humans go to bed and when the large humans try to shrink some of the piles before an episode or two of “Parks and Recreation” or the “Expanse” and the inevitable call of our own bedtime. Sometimes the piles have to wait until the next morning. Or the next week.
Our house is a loud and boisterous place. Sometimes it is the small humans playing. Sometimes it is the small humans fighting. Sometimes it is the large humans trying to keep the small humans from writing on the walls (clearly a losing battle). We’ve come to accept and even appreciate the loud play of our kids because if we can hear them we know where they are and even have some idea of what they are doing. “WATCH OUT FOR MYASSOCIATORS!” One yells about the imaginary bad guys that inhabit his play. And yes, myassociators is one word. With the loud and energetic play comes mussed hair, cuts, bruises, and clothes that look like they’ve been worn in the wilderness for two years. There will be no Instagram posts of perfectly dressed and groomed small humans. Even the family photo that graced our Christmas cards last year featured our middle child making a hilariously contorted face. When my wife and I saw that photo we said, “That’s the one. That’s us.”
So my life is decidedly not Insta-worthy. But you know what? This life is full of so much…well…LIFE! The incredibly annoying wall art which we will have to clean and paint over before we move reminds us of the boundless creativity of children and serves as a humorous warning to those walking into our home: “Real life happens here.” Full disclosure: We do try to keep our kids from writing on the walls it’s just one of those things that is inevitable with small humans. They will find writing utensils. Or nail polish. Or some other thing that writes or stains and they will liberally apply it to walls, furniture, and family heirlooms. #instaworthy!
The kitchen table with the plastic table cloth and the remains of past meals underneath means that we actually sit down at our table and share meals together. Between trying to get small humans to eat their vegetables and cleaning up spilled milk before it gets to floor a lot of conversation happens. This is one of the rare moments when all the family is gathered in one place, the TV is off, and the gadgets stowed in another part of the house. It’s a time where distractions are minimized and we can learn about what is happening in the lives of the individual members of our family. Usually that is hearing about whatever imaginary play world the small humans were engaged in but hopefully the habit will continue as our kids get older and their lives get more complicated and our dinner conversations can be a time where we can work through life together.
So our house is messy. Our van (Surprise! We have a van and it is the greatest vehicle ever created!) is messy. Our life is messy. Our life is decidedly not Insta-worthy. But if having an Insta-worthy life would mean sacrificing all this craziness than count me out. Our life is full. Sometimes it can feel too full. Sometimes it feels like more than we can handle. But in the midst of all the chaos, noise, and fatigue comes a sense that we are doing something important. That we are doing something of lasting value. That we are investing in something/someone that will last long past my wife and I have become mere memories. To me, that’s worth a lot more than having an Insta-worthy house and stressing out because my last picture of avocado toast didn’t get the number of likes I was expecting.