Friday, August 15, 2008

Gettin' Messy

"When you make a big mess,

it shows that you've been working a lot."
- My 7-year-old (almost) daughter

As soon as she said them, the words did that thing that they do every once in awhile where they fly into my chest and then give me a sort of "butterfly" feeling near my throat as they go about busily making a comfy little nest next to my heart.

Do you know that feeling?

It's the one you get when your therapist consolidates your whole childhood into one sentence and it's as if, in one second, the picture of a lion in a nature book suddenly hops off the page and into huge, hairy, hot-breathing, 3-dimensional life. Of course, you think. Of course!

It's the feeling you get when you see an artist's work and tears spring to your eyes because something about it is....well, the artist's soul. And your soul runs out to meet it because souls don't always get to touch one another that often.

It's the feeling you got when you saw your first-born child holding in her chubby toddler arms what suddenly went from the thing that made it hard to sit in your lap for the last 9 months to her "Sister," and you realized for the first time that these two beings share more DNA than you do with them and will have one another long after you're gone.

Deep Truth.

That's what that feeling is. The connection between myself and something true. And not just true....Deeply True in a way that has the potential to change me. Deeply True in a way that could cut right through me as surely as glaciers carving out the Grand Canyon.

If I let them. Ah, therein lies the rub. These Deep Truths don't usually get shouted from rooftops or hammered into my head. Oprah doesn't usually show up at my door and help me have an a-ha moment. O.k. that never happens...

Deep Truths are usually whispered, and unexpectedly. Words of a hymn in the middle of a church service I don't even want to be in. One of those blasted email forwards that I really hate and don't want to get any more of. A note from a friend I haven't spoken to in awhile. A photo. An afternoon with someone over 80. Whispers.

So I shouldn't have been surprised, really. I don't even know what Emily was talking about before she said it. This child talks A LOT and my brain has developed a sort of protective buffer so that it doesn't overheat.

But when she said it, I had one of those moments.

I don't know if this particular Deep Truth is yours...could be just mine. But since I heard it, I've been seeing it walking around all over my life.


Here's one....and YES, that's pink paint.

And it was a MESS. The kind that makes me cringe and my skin crawl and vow to never do that again.

But after the mess was cleaned up (really two days' worth of mess), this is what we had

Recognize that gorgeous confection my girls and I made together? It's a Ballerina Cake Box kit that my good friend, Holly Abston (a.k.a. Hollydoodle!), is selling. I saw them and knew I had to have one. And look how sweet it turned out! Pretty good for that mess above, dontcha' think?
And then there was this mess today:Emily was at school today so Rachel (and Andrew!) and I made cupcakes to celebrate Emily's birthday (tomorrow) with her class. Messy.

But the mess was how we got to this:

and this...I know...another mess!

So the Deep Truth About Messes has all of a sudden become very real to me. It's changing me. And it's not just about physical Messes that involve paint on the rug, gooey cake batter or cupcake-icing in crevices it should have been physically impossible for it to get in, although that would actually be a really great lesson in the particular phase of life I'm in.

Making Messes means facing feelings head-on, greeting them, finding a good spot for them to sit and entertaining them until they are ready to leave.

Making Messes means letting my old "stuff" resurface and gasp for air, throwing them a life-preserver and reeling them into the dock. Sometimes it might even mean giving them CPR, handing them a warm, fluffy towel and sitting by the fire with them. Sometimes it even means letting that rescued-"stuff" kick the crap out of me.

Making Messes means getting out a good pair of pruning shears, taking a good look at the thoughts, priorities and habits I've got growing and cutting the hell out of em', even some of the pretty ones, because I know this will leave room for something even better.

Making Messses means taking a risk. Climbing up that ladder to the highest of really high high-dives that I can't even look at without feeling like puking. Looking down through the air between the me that's standing here and the me I want to be...impossible amounts of air. Stepping forward, toes hanging off, knees shaking, stomach flip-flopping and...


These messes are....messy. I like to avoid them, pretend they're not there, hide them under that big rug no one looks under, dress them up in pretty clothes and generally just not deal. I'm a clean kinda' girl. Don't enjoy dirt. Hate to feel greasy and grimy. Like to be put together when I face the world. Know what I mean? So the prospect of all this mess is definitely not something I relish.

But there's a lot of work to be done. And the results are always so wonderful. So here I go.

Let's get messy.


Natasha Burns said...

Oh Cheryl what a sweet thing your daughter said. They come up with these little 'life insights' sometimes don't they, and you do the double take, like "did they just say that?". I know that heart feeling that you get when you hear things like that.

The ballerina box is beautiful even if it was messy to make and look at that happy cupcake face!

THanks for the lovely insights and your beautifully written blog post - I'll be coming back to read this one again to remind myself to not worry so much about "the mess".

Better go make some mess now... xo

Beth said...

cheryl what a lovely lovely post !! so wonderful!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh Wonderful post Cheryl, you do write so well and I so know what you mean. Today i commented to my children that the bumper sticker was my favourite saying. It was ' Imagine what you would do if you knew you could never fail'.....I wasn't sure they would get it, but they did and from the backseat came one quiet drawn out thoughful response of ...'Cool...' It was just a little sad that they thought that there was so much they could do if they weren't scared they wouldn't be able to do it. Oh dear I do believe you have made me cry...such a good post!! Big Messy kiss noises Linda Lilly Cottage.

Heather ~Pretty Petals said...

Cheryl this is such a beautiful post and so from the heart.. I love seeing the photos of your sweeties. they have such a good Mom... xoxo Heather

Anonymous said...

I love this post cheryl! And the picture of Rachel and Andrew on the chair is precious....gotta love those diaper butts! Now mine guy is a Thomas the train butt!

Jennifer Hayslip said...

What a gorgeous post!!! The pictures of your children just steal my heart! They are just the sweetest!
So glad they had a messy fun time making the ballerina box. WHat great quality time with Mommy.

Hope Miss Emily had a wonderful birthday! Im sure the cupcakes were a hit at the school!!! XOXO

miss whit said...

I love this post!

Love what Em said :)

Love you.

kathy with a k said...

I love this post! So much that I'm crying. I'm a mess.thanks.
Just found your blog via the wild web of blogs (you know how one leads to another, and another, and then, wait, one more) Yours is beautiful. Your writing is so descriptively perfect.
I'll be back.

Unknown said...

Okay, you have given me a whole lot to contemplate today! It's all so true! :)

And isn't it just amazing what comes out of our childrens' mouths sometimes? And I'm not talking about,"That's not fair!" or "That's mine!", but the really where-in-the-world-did-you-get-that things! Some of the things my children have said have changed my whole perspective on stuff!

Thank you for a truly inspiring and thought provoking blog post!

Robin said... That is BEAUTIFUL. You really had me at the heart flutter because I've had that feeling before, and could never articulate it to happens rarely, but usually when I catch a glance from my husband, or a sweet thing one of the kids said...and my mom used to make it happen when I was little...thats it. You are the first person I've ever heard describe it so well. I always say..."oh, that got me right there!" Thanks for the beautiful words!

Unknown said...

Good golly, Girl! You got me all cryin' now! The wisdom of babes. So true, so true. Your post is so touching. Thank you for the reminder that messes are okay-better than okay!