When my sister, who is younger than me, gave birth to her first son I remember the list of ” my child will nevers”
By then I’d had two children and learned that the only perfect mother is one who hasn’t had children yet.
I remember silently laughing at her unrealistic expectations as we sat talking about motherhood in our early parenting journey. I also remember how she constantly wiped the little boy, never allowing him or his clothing to be dirty. She was so self-assured as she listed off all the evil traits my children did her child simply would not do.
Blue ice cream moments
More importantly, I remember the day I gave him a bright blue bubble gum ice cream as he sat in his pram, crystal white shirt begging for a normal childhood stain.
It was boiling hot, we had spent all morning with our children enjoying the Durban flea market, and my last treat to the kids before we went home was ice cream.
I remember watching each drop of that liquid blue dairy as the hot sun melted it before getting he could lick it and I remember her utter horror and shock at him looking like a smurf had just thrown up on him.
Now, I agree, that was most likely not the best way to introduce her to the realities of Childhood mess, but I am her older sister so I can take a few liberties.
Mess is important
The truth is that mess plays an important part in a child’s development.
It helps them to understand that mistakes happen. Life is messy but you can clean it up. There really isn’t a big enough mess that can not be cleaned, sorted, or wiped away. Sometimes our life mess causes us to ask for help and all of the time they teach us valuable lessons.
By allowing our kids to get messy and make a mess of things we teach them to grow, to learn, and to take responsibility. They learn to ask for help when overwhelmed and to set boundaries. They learn that they are resilient, resourceful, and capable of handling any crisis in their lives.
It isn’t in the mess but how you respond to that mess that will define you.