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how an imperfect house can be good for the soul

March 27, 2013

toddler-no-perfect-house

Our white couch used to look pristine before we had Emerson. Upon close inspection, you might have been able to see a pin-sized splatter of pasta sauce overlooked from a dinner-and-a-Red Box movie night.  Occasionally, the bluish tint from our new dark-rinse jeans would appear on the couch prompting us to wash our slipcovers as if it was an eyesore of the worst kind.

Now, upon not so close inspection, the white couch boasts gray fingerprint smudges, pink pen marks, and water stains from leaking “spill-proof” sippy cups. We still wash our slipcovers, but the time between washes has gotten longer and the care with which we iron them has eased. The washing machine is burdened with extra loads of laundry and our schedules are filled with other responsibilities like feeding another human being, giving baths, managing changing work schedules, picking up toys, and making time for play dates.

I used to get frustrated with our post-baby white couches. “Horrible!” I would mutter to myself as I gathered books and puzzles from the surface, revealing the dingy cushions. “What kind of insane parent keeps a white couch?” I would rearrange throw pillows before guests came over to cover the worst blots.

And maybe we are crazy to still have our white couches. Gray would certainly hide more. Perhaps we could make a family rule about what can and cannot be done on the white couches. But we want our children to be comfortable in our home; to know that we value them over our material possessions.

So, what if I look at the white couches through the lens of something else?

These imperfections in our life tell stories. Not the story of dirt or what Emerson had for her snack today.  That extra-discolored cushion on the left tells the story of a joyful toddler who loves to stand on the couch peeking out the window anticipating her dad’s arrival home. The pen mark tells the story of the pop of color I like to add to my life when I’m studying for school – and the curiosity that kicks in when our toddler finds said pen sitting on the end table.

The worn carpets in our lives, the scratches on the bookshelf, the impossible-to-remove cheerios crumbs found in the crevasses of the car’s leather seats are representative of something else: the company of good friends, the imaginative curiosity of a small child, and the pure joy that can be found in something as simple as O-shaped whole grains.

I can choose to see the dirt as dirt. Or I can see it for what it truly is – the beauty of this stage of life.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephen K. permalink
    March 27, 2013 2:51 pm

    Love this post!

  2. debby hallcom permalink
    March 27, 2013 3:43 pm

    Jessica…you are your Mother’s daughter and I love seeing you all grown up facing the challenges of Motherhood with grace and determination to help us gain a different perspective on how to deal with little life changes…you are a blessing always!!!!!!!!!

  3. Erica permalink
    March 27, 2013 4:45 pm

    Amen! I saw a quote the other day that sums it up well “my house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.” -e
    Ps- I’m disappointed Tim hasn’t figured out how to get each of those stains out! :)

  4. Natalie Gruendl permalink
    March 28, 2013 11:02 am

    Beautiful Jess! Love reading your blog :-)

  5. March 31, 2013 10:11 pm

    This is precious. Daughters (and granddaughters) are a treasure beyond any worldly goods.

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