If cleanliness is next to Godliness…

I handed my son a napkin.

You know, no reason.

He looked at it as though I’d handed him a Walkman. Or a Ming vase. Or brand-name cereal. Something so outside his experience as to be completely foreign.

Befuddled and with furrowed brow he said, “What’s this for?”

I think this sums up all I have taught my children about cleanliness.

If cleanliness really is next to Godliness, my children are spiritually lost.

Mourn with me.

………

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
27 comments
  1. I am having such a sad mama day. I needed this! I am feeling like it’s all going down right here and now and I’m trying not to panic. Are you with me? Have you been here? So, seeing this goofy boy, who has thoroughly enjoyed whatever that treat was, being an awesome sticky mess was what I needed. Thank you!!

    1. My pleasure, Laura… and I hope your days are looking up. xoxo, friend. xoxo.

  2. I have six kids, which means many messy little faces (and many BIG messes in the hair approximately a trillion times a day). If cleanliness is next to Godliness, we’re all lost too 😉

    1. Six kids is a lot of kids, Amanda. Just FYI.

      Thanks for hanging out in Lost territory with me. It’s a party over here! 😀

  3. I agree – this blog feels like home.

    1. Yep – killing me dead.

      Thank you, Cathie. It’s a good death.

  4. Haha, Miriam, I love the food in the eyebrows picture. It reminds me of a picture of my son, though he was a baby at the time, eating carrots or squash. Poor guy looks like an umpa lumpa lol, hadn’t quite mastered the spoon yet 🙂

    I also want to say, I love this forum, I love the support and encouragement you all give. You are a group of strong and intelligent women, and that is very noticeable. I am blessed and happy beyond belief to have found a support system such as this 🙂

    Thank you Beth, for deciding whenever you did to share your day to day. I’m not sure if when you began your blogging adventure you knew what sort of impact it would have. Maybe you were just like me, in the beginning of all this, wanting to write down your thoughts and experiences to get them out and see if others went through the same. Whatever your reason was, speaking for myself, it has made a huge impact.

    It’s wonderful to know as a fairly young mother of 2, 27 soon to be 28, and not much family help or friends here; that I am apparently doing a good job, or as good as I can 🙂 It encourages me not to get down on my self. 🙂 I thank you all, and thank God for your lovely hearts 😉

    1. Heather, you’re killing me dead.

      No, I had no idea that a blog about pee and poop and puke – and the other, more heartfelt messes of parenting – would have an impact. Frankly, I’m constantly amazed. But I also truly believe that confessing the mess is the only real way to build community, and I’m deeply grateful that folks are willing to reveal their mess here… I know full well that this blog is built by all of you and your stunning graciousness in diving in the mess with me.

      Thank you for making this community possible, Heather. And then for taking the time to write to me about it and shovel encouragement on my head. That’s kindness and generosity right there. It is.

      B

  5. Oh, Beth. I really feel the need to share this with you: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=74943716237&set=a.6145286237.12189.736111237&type=3&theater
    Until your son can get his food in his EYEBROWS, you got nothin’ on me.
    Sorry.

    1. Too cute! Love that shirt!

    2. I need to upload a picture of Aden for you. At age 2, I put her down for a nap in my bed. I realized I forgot to feed her a snack, though, so I quickly shoveled 1/2 a cup of yogurt down her throat before she slept. And then I left the rest of the yogurt cup on the window sill behind my bed. SHE’S MY 3rd CHILD. I KNEW BETTER. By the time I realized she woke up from her nap, she’d painted the entire bed, her clothes, her face and her hair with yogurt. That remaining 1/2 cup stretched REALLY FAR, Miriam.

      In short, I feel your eyebrow pain. 😀

      xoxo

  6. Isn’t that what a shirt sleeve/front is for?

    1. This was probably the source of Cai’s confusion, Amy. Actually, when we’re sans-napkins, we usually have our kids stuff their heads inside their shirts to wipe their messy faces/runny noses… totally grody, I know, but the mess ends up inside the shirt that way. (And, when I say “the mess,” I mean a teeny, tiny part of the mess – most of it’s still on the sleeves/shirt-front/face. But at least we tried. ;))

  7. From the mouth of God Himself
    Proverbs 14:4
    “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
    But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.”

    No oxen=clean trough. Oxen= dirty trough.
    No oxen= little increase Many oxen= Much increase.

    Got this in my single mom with five kids and trying to stay out of the looney bin days. Helped me many, many times to find peace and rest and enjoy my kiddos instead of exploding because of the mess.

    1. Thank you, Cindy, I definitely needed to recall that scripture. Its been years since I’ve read it. Well before I had my children, so I had forgotten it. 🙂

      1. There’s another verse that applies here, I believe:
        “For the Lord sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
        As another commenter said, you’re doing the right thing by focusing on loving your kids rather than obsessing about the messes they make. The heart is the key, not the way your home looks. And they’ll remember your heart of love for them much more than they would a spotless home. Who cares what others think of your home? If they are insensitive enough to judge the housekeeping of a single mother of two, then their opinion doesn’t really matter anyway, if you ask me. 😉

    2. Thank you! I now have a verse to reassure my husband!

    3. Ha! That’s a GREAT verse, Cindy. I’ve never seen it applied to motherhood, but YES. This goes along with the God-who-was-born-in-a-barn very well.

  8. Maybe if you’d said, “Pretend you are at Grandma’s house.”

    1. (I’m always handing him a napkin…)

      1. This blog needs a “LIKE” button.

      2. Probably they should come over, Judy, for a LOOONG weekend so you can help them remember what a napkin is. 😀

        1. I can see it’s been a LOOOOONG time.

  9. Aw Beth, thank goodness God forgives then, because I think majority of us would be screwed 🙂 I know I would be at least. My house is probably much like yours. I am a single mom, but I only have 2, and messes with children grow exponentially I believe. So 5 would create a MUCH bigger mess than my 2 tornadoes can. And TRUST me, these two Tasmanian devil like creatures I call my kids, and love; well they can destroy in room in 2.4 seconds or less after I clean it. So I hope God forgives my slothfulness/ messiness whatever you would call it, because I have accepted there may be no help 🙂 I’d post pics, but unlike you, I don’t have an adoring following to lift me up, I’d be pretty embarrassed lol. Maybe if I get the courage to start my blog I will share my mess with you 🙂

    1. Don’t worry, we will lift you up too! You make the right choice when you choose to love those kids and meet their needs over focusing on the internal voice telling you ought to keep a cleaner home. There’s not much time that the kids will be there. God looks at the heart, not behind the fridge! 😉

      1. Thank you, Terri, your post means the world to me 😀 I knew God showed me Beth’s blog months ago for a reason, and its because I have learned so much, interacted with amazing people, and have been shown that its okay that I don’t get every little tiny thing done in the day. Thank you, and Beth, the forum alone makes me feel like I have close friends and support system because you all seem to understand lol

        1. a) 2.4 seconds to destruction? Yes. Exactly, Heather.

          b) Terri’s right on. I figure if God set Jesus up to be born in a barn to the sweet scent of donkey poo, then God’s down with the mess and welcome in my house. (Also, that whole water-to-wine miracle? Mm hm. Jesus is my kind of guy.)

          c) This string of mutual support, ladies? This way you’re community and compassion to each other? This way you’re sharing what’s real? You have my heart. Thank you. This is the sweetest kind of writing encouragement that exists… the kind that matters in lives of real, hardworking mamas who know what it means to send solidarity in the middle of the mess.

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