My kids are wild. Unruly. Often unkempt. Sometimes I look at the beautiful pictures that people post of their kids on Instagram or Facebook and I think wistfully, “How do they get them to wear PANTS all the time?” or “How do they get their little girl’s hair in perfect pony tails like that? Why doesn’t she rip them out like a screaming banshee?” Or, most often, “How do they have all these clothes without food and dirt stains all over them? I think I need better laundry detergent.”
What really blows my mind is when I see a group of kids, perfectly all groomed, well-dressed in outfits, smiling at the camera at the same time, ready to head off to church or a family party or something equally civilized. I just can’t help but wonder how. I know I shouldn’t compare my family to others, but when I do, mine always turns out a little rough-looking in comparison. Seriously, why do my kids always have food on their face? Why are they always running and yelling and thumping into things? Why are they so… wild?
I’m going to go ahead and say it… some parents are just better at making their children look and act civilized. Maybe it comes more easily, or maybe they truly just put more work into it. And if I’m being really honest with myself, I could put more work into it, too. I could chase them down and scrub their faces, make them wear shoes outside, get them haircuts more often. But I’ve also come to the realization that it’s also ok that it’s not a priority for me, or for our family.
If I had my kids in adorable outfits all the time, I’d be constantly telling them to stay out of the mud in the garden, instead of helping them dig for worms and centipedes and all manner of things that kind of gross me out, but make them squeal with delight. I’d also be doing a lot more laundry.
I could chastise them for running in the house, but there are so many things I have to correct them on and say no to, that I hate to add the one thing that doesn’t actually mean much. Besides, it’s exercise and it gets energy out. Did I mention they’re wild?
I could put a total kibosh on all the potty humor and jokes about body parts and stories of imaginary friends who do outlandish things, but it’s too hard to restrain my own laughter. Because it turns out maybe I’m a little wild, too.
I like to walk around outside without shoes on and garden without gloves and laugh at butt jokes and sometimes when we’re in the backyard I like to hang out in my swimsuit, because darn it, it DOES feel awesome to not wear pants. And frankly, it’s not like I can eat an entire meal without spilling all over my shirt, either. And I have three decades of practice.
My family might not ever be magazine-ready, or really anywhere close. We are wild and a little sloppy and sort of always look like we just woke up. But my kids give great hugs and say “Bless you” when you sneeze, and will dazzle you with their conversational skills (as long you are interested in imaginary friends and construction equipment). They’re kind and inquisitive and adventurous. They’ll be the last person to tell someone that their outfit is uncool, because at this point, I’m not sure they have any concept of what a cool outfit even is, other than one that can be covered in mud without much consequence. And I can get behind that.
I may never stop being a little jealous of families that can pull it together and look and act completely lovely and civilized. It’s ok. I kind of love them for it. But I also kind of love us for our messy, haphazard wildness that I don’t think I ever want to tame.