fiddle leaf photography
Jul 5, 2016
The text message read, “The house looks like someone came trough and just ran their arm around the counter to knock stuff off all over the house”.
It was from me to my husband, at about 4:30 pm on the 5th day of his shift set. I can always tell when we are on the last day of his set of shifts by the state of our house (much like I can tell how it’s 4pm by the craziness level of my kids!). 5 days of solo parenting (while working from home) and I’m usually wishing I could call in the cleaning cavalry. I trust I’m not alone in this wish, right?
That text message was 100% true. I had princess stickers all over my calves, which had been declared to be new tattoos by my 5 year old. I’d stepped on one too many raisins stuck to the tile that afternoon and I still had to attempt to find a square foot of countertop space to make dinner (which may or may not have been PB&J).
Now, the disclaimer should be that I’ve never been a neat freak. My mom will tell you that throughout my whole life I’ve been very good at leaving my mark wherever I go. But this? This clutter and chaos is a level I never thought I’d reach. I try, I really do, but my kids have a very special talent to remind me that sometimes it’s an effort in futility.
There are times I gain a burst of energy to throw out old toys, sort through clothes, and make sure all the cutlery is in the correct little spaces in that handy organizer I bought when strolling through Ikea was still a leisurely pastime. And other times I say “screw it”, pull out my camera and make sure my kids know they lived in a house that was full of good times.
From documenting the chaos that can creep into our house, I’ve learned a few lessons in the past 5 years.
Here are the reasons I encourage you to document your own chaos:
Remember those first few days home with a new baby when nothing else mattered except cuddling, feeding and sleeping? I do, because of this image. It was taken the second day my youngest daughter was home. When my Mom was practically living at our house, and the baby laundry had already taken over the couch. It was newborn chaos that won’t ever be repeated again in this house. That time of tiny little clothes stacked up are gone, and have been replaced by toddler toys and clothes haphazardly tossed on the floor when she now decides clothes are much too restricting for the free spirit she is.
This image makes me laugh for so many reasons. We were insanely exhausted and hung over from a great night at our house with friends who we hadn’t seen in way too long. Plus, I’m sure my youngest is wondering what the heck kind of family she was born into. (That’s totally the expression she has, right?) But mostly, it’s the things behind those humans I love that are the story of this image. The wine glasses, which I can remember so clearly being the first drink I’d had since giving birth (good Lord was it DELICIOUS!). The gripe water, bringing me right back to small sliver of time when we were trying everything in our repertoire to relieve baby gas. The butternut squash sitting way back there on the counter….because I thought I might actually roast vegetables! The empty french press and coffee cream. Because, obviously, wine the night before and 2 kids requires copious amounts of coffee.
They’re the clues to life at that time. And with one look, they can snap you right back there, no matter how many years have passed..
There’s a rule in our house that if it occupies the kids for longer than it takes to clean up, it’s a worthwhile activity. If I have to remind myself of the rule it usually means things have moved into the longer to clean up than to occupy category! But, often it’s still worth it as they are having fun. I want to always have the visual reminder that my kids were messy and had fun. And, that I relaxed enough for a few moments to just enjoy them having fun.
I’m not there yet, but I’ve talked to enough Moms with older kids to know that this is just a phase. That I’ll actually miss stepping on stray Barbies and gooey raisins. For now, I’m going to trust the wisdom in this and continue to document my kids’ childhood for them, just as it was. I want them to look back and see that play mattered in our house and that at the end of the day they had a pretty awesome childhood.
Next time you’re feeling frustrated by the state of your house, I encourage you to take a breath and grab whatever camera you have handy. Document it for both you and your children. The details, the wide shot, the fun that’s happening within the frame. As I tell myself (while sometimes doing my yoga breathing to calm down), embrace it. So much easier said than done, but always worth it.
Ready to be in the chaos with your kids ? Let’s chat about your life, how I can document it for you, and all the fun you’re going to have during your family photo session, which might just result in a mess worth documenting.
P.S. If you liked this journal entry, I suspect you might also like these: