Forget the messes and make the memories

This is a picture of my three-year-old’s room from earlier this afternoon. There isn’t a thing in this picture that doesn’t drive me absolutely crazy… the unmade bed, random orange dish towel that I had no idea he even had, blankets piled in a heap on the floor, and how the rug has turned into a safety hazard rolled every which way on the floor. Oh, and Legos. The ever-present, teeny-tiny Legos.

Mom Life | Parenting Toddlers | Postitive Parenting | Life Off The Record

I had run back to his room to grab a hat for him on our way outside to play and opened the door to this. As I stood in the doorway and wondered how he’d even had the time to make such a mess, I heard a little voice:

“Sorry, Mommy. Sorry”

I looked down and saw my son standing beside me. He must’ve felt the need to defend himself because he immediately explained that he had built a huge construction site and that his ‘friends’ had helped him. The orange towel was a loading dock for the giant dump truck, the blankets were huge mounds of dirt and the Legos were rocks that needed to be cleared in order to smooth the ground. The more he explained, the more I started to see the mess through his eyes. Each item was in a specific place for a specific reason and my son had a plan for each one. Except for Pikachu. Not sure what purpose his creepy face served at this site.

I thought back to his words.

“Sorry, Mommy. Sorry.”

All I could think was… sorry? Sorry for what?

For being creative?

For having an imagination?

For being a kid?

I realized he was looking up at me with his big, brown eyes, a look of disappointment on his face. He knew what was coming. He knew what I was going to say. He knew he wouldn’t be allowed to go outside unless his room was clean. And let me tell you, I wanted it clean too. I really, really wanted it clean. In my head, I was already down on my hands and knees scooping up every last Lego into the bucket. But instead of giving him an ultimatum, I decided to do something else.

I closed the door.

I closed the door, went outside in the sunshine, and played with my kids.

I watched them as they smiled and waved at the semi-trucks who drove past our house, in an attempt to get them to honk their horns and listened to them laugh when the driver would oblige.

I turned on the bubble machine and watched my one-year-old as he stumbled all over the driveway, hands in the air, trying to pop the hundreds of bubbles as they floated around him.

I laughed out loud as I watched my toddler zig-zag all over the back yard, leaping and diving to ‘snatch’ a butterfly, and falling short every time.

I loaded both of them up in the wheelbarrow and pushed them around on the driveway because my toddler thought that it was ‘a really good idea.’ Five minutes and a thousand drops of sweat later, I realized that it was really not a good idea and told my son that Daddy would be so much better at the wheelbarrow game than I was. I may have only made it five minutes, but as I lifted my son out of the wheelbarrow, he said that those five minutes were ‘super fun’.

Mom Life | Parenting Toddlers | Positive Parenting | Life Off The Record

And all of this happened while the bed was still unmade, the blankets were still in a heap, and the Legos were still scattered all over the floor. The world didn’t stop turning and nothing was lost in that hour. Nothing lost, but memories were gained. And you can never have enough memories.

I blinked and half of summer was gone. My oldest little guy will be headed to preschool in a few short months and I don’t want to look back at these days, filled with regret because I was so caught up in the little things that just. don’t. matter. Some days it’s still a challenge, but I’m learning. Every day, I’m learning.

As a mom, there are a lot of things I get wrong. And I mean, A LOT. But this? This I got right.

So whether it’s a messy room, a sink full of dirty dishes, furniture that needs cleaned, floors that need swept or loads of laundry that need to be folded… sometimes you just need to close the door.

Mom Life | Parenting Toddlers | Positive Parenting | Life Off The Record









  1. Sharon Cooper

    Thank goodness for mother like you. There are so many young mothers & fathers that is going to be grandparents & say “Where did the time go???” I know for I regret everyday that I worked, cleaned house, cooked, baked, done laundry & went to bed tired. But I never spent time with my kids that are all grown up & I take time with my grandchildren trying to ease my heart from the time I miss with my kids while they were growing up.

    • lindsay

      Sharon, I think the hardest thing for every mother is finding balance. We would all love to spend every minute with our children, but the reality is that there are things that HAVE to be done. It sounds to me like your children were well taken care of and that you were giving your best… which is what we, as mothers, are all trying to do. It’s never too late to spend time with your children, no matter how old they are! Glad to hear you’re enjoying those grandchildren!

  2. They are so cute! And you couldn’t have said it better. It’s only the memories they have that matters after all.

  3. RM

    Love this great reminder! Messes can wait… memories can’t … in the blink of an eye they will be grown and gone and we will wish for these messes once again..

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