Blog | Lindsey Smallwood


Tidy, Not Clean

#wholemamaLindsey Smallwood

Here we go again - it's #wholemama week 4 and I'm back to chime in on a conversation we're having about life in the midst of the mess. 

I've always found solace in keeping things neat.
Buckets and baskets make toys seem discreet.
There's a place to stash keys and a spot to hold shoes,
there's a lace covered dish to hold letters and news.

I don't mind at all to see balls on the floor, 
or a tower of blocks stacked in front of the door,
as long as I know at the end of the day,
each thing has a place where it goes to stay.

When bedtime is done and the house becomes quiet,
I reclaim my space from the playtime toy riot.
Board books go on one shelf, fairy tales on another,
as I replace these stories, I think of my mother.

We are quite different, my mother and I.
The books by her bed make towers quite high.
She isn't as organized as I prefer,
but on matters of cleanliness, to Mom I defer.

Because while my house stays incredibly tidy,
the floor needs a mop where the juice stains are hiding.
The dust balls are rolling behind the TV.
The grime on my sink's begging to be set free.

There are spots on the wall from where two weeks ago
my toddler threw spaghetti - and man, he can throw.
The fingerprints on my iPad make it hard to watch,
my dishwashing needs to go up a notch.

But at my mom's house, the floors seem to gleam.
The dishes, they sparkle, she gets them so clean.
The toilets are shiny. The wall's pasta-free.
She's so good at getting dirt out of laundry

I think it's okay that we each have our strengths - 
she has much she can teach me - and she does, at length.
But sometimes I worry that my tidy systems 
are all metaphor for what my life's missing. 

It looks really good, everything in it's place,
adorable bins that match my living space.
But it's not really clean, the dirt and the grime
hide under the baskets I refill all the time.

I wonder sometimes if I am like this,
put together, but then under the surface - 
the stains of my sin and my doubt and my shame
though hidden from view, persist and remain.

I long for integrity, to be fully true,
whether home by myself or in public view.
But in order to have it, I must tend to the messes,
letting go of the fears, the idols, the false-yeses.

So I'm taking a lesson from my mama this week - 
I'll be scrubbing my floors 'till I hear them squeak.
And while I am working to make my home clean
I'll be praying that I can see and be seen, 

For all that I am, for the good and the bad, 
for the places I'm growing, for the mess I still have. 
I'm proud of my tidy and learning to scour, 
perhaps cleaning my house can further empower?

Here's hoping...

Interested in hearing how other #wholemamas are making sense of their messes? Check out this hilarious story about a cheese fight from Sarah Torna Roberts.