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This Grown-Up Thing

Last night we slept at my parents’ house.  Some home improvements proved stinkier than we’d planned and we finally fled the house.  Harvard is probably out of the question for my kids after the fumes that wafted into their little brains.  At first, I was like, “Hey, kids, let’s eat lunch upstairs.  It’s a bit wiffy in here.”  Then I casually announced, “Hey, sweeties, let’s have quiet time in your rooms with the doors shut.”  They handled that suggestion like champs, considering it was only 11:30am.  About an hour later, as the Toxic Cloud of Nerve Gas started seeping through the cracks in our doors and the cracks in my brain, I concluded that we were heading to swim class early and possibly never coming back.

I drove the minivan five under the speed limit all over town, just enjoying the stench of stale waffle fries and stinky socks over Eau de Epoxy that was pervading my house.  After swimming and errands, I called my mom in desperation.  We had an impromptu sleepover at Grammy and Granddaddy’s, and I’ve come to an important decision.

I’m not going back.  Their house is too awesome.  The sheets smell good, everything is clean, and they have juice boxes.  My kids are happily watching movies on this rainy day, Alex and I stayed up till 1am watching Argo last night in their matching, rocking recliners, and now I’m sipping a hot cup of coffee that I didn’t make myself.  Their laundry room is three times the size of mine and I didn’t have to step over a dirty clothes explosion that resembles the landscape from Wall-E to get to the dryer.

Birdies are chirping and plants are happier in their yard. Their glasses are organized by size in the cupboard and their towels are perfectly folded and arranged by color.  Their sinks are toothpaste glob-free, I don’t have to contort my body over the dog food to get to the people food in the pantry, and their kitchen table doesn’t have dried cereal stuck to it.

Someone tell Alex.  I’m not leaving.  It’s too good here.  Goodbye adulthood.  You were a nice phase, but I can’t handle you anymore.  I quit.  I concede.  Mommy and Daddy have this grown-up thing down.  Why did I ever leave them?  Commencing thumb-sucking.

The last time I stayed at my parents’ house was three and a half years ago, the day that I crawled onto their guest bed and had a God-sized UNEXPECTED epiphany about orphan care and adoption and my life took a radical turn.  So maybe if I hang out here long enough, I’ll have another one and discover the next step on this crazy journey.

Cuz God likes it here.  I think it’s the yummy-smelling sheets.  He smiles upon their organized kitchen and how all the chairs at the table are pushed in and so not covered in juice residue.  I seriously could lick the floor.  I’m eyeing it now.  I might just go in for a taste.

Somehow I missed the neat and organized gene.  My brother got it.  I realized this when I watched him iron his tee shirts one day.  The only ironing done in my home is when I take the flat iron off my hair and use it on a collar.

I am messy to the core, and marrying messy and birthing messy and adopting messy has not improved the condition of our living space.  I feel like at some point I should have a point about who we are and God’s grace and baby steps to walking out of Mommy’s house…yeah maybe I’ll just go have one more snuggle in the yummy-smelly guest bed with the soft pillows…I’ll come back when I’m ready…

selfie in the dark while hiding in my hair on a squishy pillow

Yep, still disorganized.  No epiphany about my life.  Thinking about this issue of comparison, this needing to measure up to the organized people in my life.

I freak out when I meet other bloggers, the ones who blog about organizing your home, your food, your coupons.  I’m totally excited to meet them, but inside I’m wondering if they can tell by looking at me that I left the breakfast dishes on the table covered in sticky maple syrup.  A few weeks ago, I met Crystal Paine from (Read her blog!!!) and liked her so much.  But as I smiled at her, I worried that she could read my mind and find out about the coupon that could’ve saved us $40 at Alex’s birthday dinner that I left hanging on the fridge.  The horror!

Sigh.  My parents.  Other bloggers.  I will never be organized.  I will continue to learn to fake it and put little disciplines into practice, like how just this year, at thirty-five, I finally picked a spot for the Band-aids and have stuck with it for several months.  My kids can now depend on me for boo-boo care and maintenance.  I also own a label maker and go through a labeling frenzy about once a year.  There have been whole weeks when I’ve planned out meals ahead of time.

I can fake it and make progress, but at my core, I will never truly be organized.  I’m not sure that my left brain gets a lot of action up there elbowed out by my overactive right brain.  My day is kind of like ideas ideas ideas ideas ideas ideas messy messy messy ideas ideas ideas, then after a long day of “living in the moment,” I come out of my stupor, look around, and go, “What the baby orca happened today?!?!?”

At a women’s Bible study a few weeks ago, as an icebreaker, we had to go around the room and share in what ways we exhibited the characteristics of a “Proverbs 31 woman.”  Did anyone else just throw up a little bit?  You are my people.

First, I hate icebreakers.  Hate.  If I see one coming, I head to the bathroom faster than you can say “turn to your neighbor.”  I’ve created all kinds of anti-handshaking pick-and-rolls for the greeting time at church.  I visibly clench when the icebreaker involves a game.  I’m an open book in casual conversation or on the internet for all to read, but if we’re going around in a circle arbitrarily sharing, I get sweaty.  I will hug you.  I will hug the crap out of you.  I will tell you all about whatever deep dark thingy I’m wrestling with in the moment.  But please don’t ask me to share my name and one thing about myself.  For the luvvvv.

So, I was already completely undone about an icebreaker, and then that Proverbs 31 chick came out to kick me in the mom balls.  I went completely comatose and couldn’t make eye contact for the rest of the morning.  The Proverbs 31 woman is a freaking dynamo of energy and perfection and all things stereotypical woman.  When I read it, I begin to think that maybe I’m really a man.  A man with boobs.  (When I googled images for “Proverbs 31 woman,” a ton of baked goods and flower arrangements popped up.  I’m sure the Proverbs 31 woman has great smelling sheets.)

I just found this post by Jen Hatmaker and Rachel Held Evans that is thawing me out, talking me off the ledge, picking me up off the ground.  I must have missed it in December, because December was a deep dark hole, but finding it today is timely.  The bottom line of the post is that Proverbs 31 is a blessing, not a to-do list.  The passage celebrates the strength and valor of women.  So when I read it, I can celebrate the gifts God has given me, rather than feel like a total schmoe for not weaving cloth and waking up while it’s still dark (Night owls unite, hoot hoot!).  Jen also seems to feel the same way about Pinterest that I do.  You know, I actually created an account a few weeks ago to try to be a better grown-up, woman, blogger, mother, wife, and I pinned nothing.  Nothing!  I took one look at what was on there and realized that it wasn’t worth the cost of weekly therapy that I would need.

So, while I absolutely love visiting my parents’ house (and cooking in their kitchen is completely rad because, get this, they have a specialized drawer for everything; I know, whoa, right?), I also totally love my own disorganized kitchen.  I have to hunt for the can opener, but I love my messy little life and God has given me plenty of other strengths.  If I stop comparing myself to the organized, on-the-proverbial-ball people in my life, I actually start to notice my own funktastic gifts.

Here are some of mine:

  • I make up recipes a lot.  I don’t write them down and I totally forget most of them, but I cook based on whatever’s around and usually it’s pretty tasty, reasonably healthy, and GFDF.
  • If you couldn’t tell, I also make up words.  I do write these down.  I love colliding letters together.  You’re welcome, world.
  • I sing out loud while I’m grocery shopping.  Maybe that’s not a gift to the people around me, but it’s a gift to me, because it’s totally freeing to sing whenever I want to.
  • I love developing the hearts of my kids to serve others.  I love teaching them to look beyond our walls, beyond our bubble, and see their place in the world, the ministry that God’s giving them.
  • All of those ideas floating around my head all day actually lead to a lot of cool things.  My laundry is in piles, but so are my ideas.  Big piles of them.  That’s fun.
  • I get completely worked up and passionate when I talk about poverty alleviation and long term orphan care.  Mouth, foam, spittle.  Stand back or wear a hygienic shield.
  • My laugh sounds like seals having sex, or possibly running from killer whale bad guys: ork ork ork ork ork ork!  This gift is waaaaaayyy better than organizational skills.  I’m sure of it.
  • I give good, borderline creepy, hugs.  I also give good, borderline creepy, backrubs.  Do not complain about a crick in your neck then sit near me.  I will jump in and try to fix it.  You’ve been warned.
  • I can do The Running Man, The Charleston, and The Time Step.  These are important.
  • Okay here’s one.  I love to read.  I read constantly.  I’m a multi-book reader, meaning I read 6-10 at a time that I carry in piles around the house.  I like that I’m modeling reading to my kids, and I try to drop my own books to read to them whenever they ask.  When I was little, I had to hide in the bathroom in order to keep reading when my parents tried to encourage me to get fresh air.  With all that time in the bathroom, they probably thought I had a problem.
Okay, that’s enough of mine.  What are some of your fantabulous gifts that maybe don’t fit into the traditional “Proverbs 31 woman” but should totally be celebrated?