Everywhere I turn, I see a mess.
There is a pile of shoes by the front door, cast off haphazardly the very second my children enter the house.
There are coats and backpacks strewn about the living room carelessly tossed aside once gain.
There are dishes piled high in the sink, just taunting me, and a dishwasher waiting impatiently to be unloaded.
There are stacks of folded laundry begging to be put away and heaps more laundry anxiously awaiting a wash.
There are beds left unmade and crumbs dropped on the floor that I try to overlook. Dust gathers on ceiling fans and fingerprints are scattered on the windows. I see papers -- homework, bills, junk mail -- littering almost every table in my house.
I am a person who thrives on order and organization, so, sometimes, when I look at these messes I feel so incredibly exasperated and overwhelmed. Over and over, I straighten and scrub. Over and over, the messes reappear almost instantly. Despite my best efforts, I cannot get ahead of the clutter and mayhem. Some days -- more honestly, most days -- it drives me crazy.
If I take a deep breath and step back for a moment, though, I can see that these messes are reminders of all that is wonderful in my life. In the evening, when all is quiet and I finally sit down to relax, I look around surveying the chaos that lingers and recall all the mess represents.
The shoes remind me of the feet that have run and played all day; the feet that carried them into school and safely back home again; the feet that used to be so tiny, but now almost match my own; the feet that will walk untold miles to places they have yet to discover.
The coats remind me that we are all safe and warm. They make me thankful that we don't live in some war torn place constantly in fear for our lives.
The backpacks signify how much they have learned and grown as the years have flown by so swiftly. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was reading Good Night Moon and teaching them to sing their ABC's?
The dishes and crumbs help me to remember that we are fortunate to have food on our table; that I am lucky to put my children to sleep with full bellies each night when so many parents in our own city are food insecure, unsure of how they will provide their family's next meal.
The laundry is another symbol of our blessings; a reminder that we are warm and able to provide for the most fundamental requirements of our daughters; a reminder to be thankful because we have much when many have so little.
Every fingerprint is a memory smudged into my heart reminding me how it felt to hold their tiny hands and how it still feels to be wrapped in their embrace.
The beds are where my sweet angels rest their precious heads each night; where they keep their most prized stuffed animal possessions; where they dream and, sometimes, where they cry; where they begin and end each day.
My house is far from spotless and, if I let them, the messes get under my skin. That's when I know I have lost sight of my blessings. When I am overwhelmed by the clutter and chaos of life, I have to look harder, but, if I try, I can still find the love and joy hidden deep within this marvelous, wonderful, beautiful mess.