Today's my seventh post in a 31 days series about Practicing Messy Motherhood.
It started this summer. A babysitter reported strange noises, to the point where she thought someone was in the kitchen while she was home alone with our sleeping kids. And then it became more regular. Each morning while I was having my quiet time, I'd hear quiet (or not so quiet) banging in the kitchen and rustling in the chip bags on top of the fridge. None of the kids were up, it was just a little animal friend messing around in my abode. We kind of hoped for the best (the best case being that they were mice, not rats and that they'd just leave on their own) but if you've ever encountered mice, you know that they don't really like to just leave. We got desperate once it got to the point where they'd keep my husband up all night with their rustling and moving.
After we killed the first one, I was elated. ELATED. I wanted to dance around the kitchen. I'd conquered our dirty little secret and it was all over and YAY. It was about three days before I heard the same familiar noise in the kitchen at 5am. There was another one. A mouse friend? A scorned lover? Either way - this one was far less quiet and way more bold. It's been about two months now and y'all - we've killed SO MANY MICE. We've had two different exterminators, we've had the outside of the house sealed and check, we've used different traps and everything you can think of. But they keep coming and they're getting bolder. They scurry through our house as we're having business meetings and they run under Nick's feet as we're watching a movie. It's disgusting and disturbing and it makes me feel the deepest shame.
I wish mothering was just mothering, but it's never JUST mothering. It's home-keeping too and it's all intertwined into our identity. What can we produce? What kind of a home can we output? Clean, healthy, loved children is not longer the benchmark, thanks to Pinterest. We need to be uber-organized, with fantastic decorating skills, all on a budget, while wearing faux leather jeggings and the cutest new plaid shirts. Better make sure we have those holiday themed cupcakes and that all our laundry is done all the time.
You know what the pinterest perfect picture of mothering/housekeeping doesn't include? Mice. I had no intention of sharing about our mice on the internet AT ALL. I was genuinely ashamed and discouraged and felt like this must declare that I'm unclean and live in a trash-heap.
But then yesterday happened.
Yesterday I was at the end of my wits with mothering and all the roles. Cannon had been up since 4am and wasn't napping due to being sick, I felt overwhelmed, and even though we'd just caught two more mice in 24 hours, we had a sighting of another one. UNCLEAN. UNFIT. MESSY. That's how I felt. I needed my husband to come in and rescue me and send me out on a run or upstairs to take a nap, but he had a little emergency come up and had to take a trip. A family that we've kept tabs on from our kid's school has become homeless and they needed some immediate shelter and food.
Nick took Elias and went to the motel where they were staying to take these hardworking, kind, honest people who have nowhere to call their own a few necessities. He was gone so long, I texted him after a few hours to check on them and he texted me back saying that they were so kind, so joyful, but that he felt so sad and broken. As he pulled into the motel, there were tons of other kids from other displaced families, and many of them knew our son - meaning they go to his school, they live in our community. They are our people.
This past Sunday we sang John Mark McMillan's "How He Loves" and the line - I don't have time to maintain these regrets keeps ringing in my head and in my heart. I have mice. There are parts of my life, our home, my mothering that are incredibly messy - but I don't have time to fret, feel shame, or cry about them.
My people - the small humans in my care and the big humans in my neighborhood - they deserve my time, my affection, my burdened heart. We have mice, but we have a home. And if you're familiar with our family's story, you know that hasn't always been the case. But more than that? We know Jesus. We know the Savior of Isaiah 61 who brings good news to the poor, proclaims liberty to the captives, opens the prison of those who are bound, gives a garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.
I have mice. Mothering can be messy.
But I don't have time to maintain these regrets.