Say “Yes” To The Mess

Kitty birthday greetings, courtesy of younger son
Kitty birthday greetings, courtesy of younger son

My knee-jerk reaction when the kids tell me about something they’re planning is, “Oh, no. It’s going to be messy. NO!”

You see, their messy nature conflicts with my craving for some order. My older son’s gym shorts have been in the middle of our living room floor since Monday. I refuse to pick them up; he’s managed to “forget” to toss them in the dirty clothes hamper all four times I’ve asked. My younger son’s shoes are often just shy of making it into the shoe cubbies I bought to keep shoes out of the middle of the floor. As an added bonus, there’s usually a pile of sand from the school playground wherever his shoes landed when he took them off. (I’m half-expecting a bill from the school so they can order another truckload of sand before the next school year begins.)

The last thing I want is to invite more messes, but what I’m starting to figure out (after eleven years) is that, while certainly messy, their grand ideas often come with a lesson.

For instance, they insisted on selling citrus fruit from my parents’ yard, lemonade, and beaded jewelry that they made. I told them people wouldn’t buy the stuff, but they couldn’t be deterred. They made $24 and couldn’t wait to plan their next sale.  A couple weeks ago, a neighbor offered them a partnership of sorts: they sell extra veggies from her garden for a portion of the proceeds. (I’ll let you know in a few years if I’m raising little entrepreneurs or slick con artists 🙂 )

The lesson: I learned that I was wrong (again) and they learned that with the right attitude, you can sell just about anything.

Sammy and Lizzy (sons' cats)
Sammy and Lizzy (sons’ cats)

Their latest mess idea: have a birthday party for their cats’ fifth birthday. I didn’t say yes or no for several days, hoping it would pass (fat chance.) The day before the kitties’ big day, I drove my sons to the store. With their money, they bought the cake/brownie mixes they wanted. They put out a snack buffet while I made the goodies. They sat the cats in chairs and held them against their will while we sang happy birthday (and yes, they called me out when my lips were moving but they couldn’t hear my voice.)

The lesson: They experienced the joy of doing something nice for others (even if they’re “just cats,” as my husband would say) and I learned that I need to focus more on these little moments. I have a vague awareness of our pets’ birthdays, and the fact they are a little grayer and little older.

I need to embrace the mess; I need to celebrate more.

(And I’ll start by enjoying my day off work on Friday while the kids are at school 😛 )

This weekend, I’m celebrating Easter… what are YOU celebrating?