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December 1, 2014

Bless this Mess

Image: Flickr/J.K. Califf

Image: Flickr/J.K. Califf

“Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky.” (Fran Lebowitz)

Children are messy and complicated, and the sooner we can just accept this fact, the sooner we’ll all be able to enjoy the holiday season. Too often, parents want to present our children as squeaky clean, smaller versions of ourselves — or of what we wish we could have been. We view our children as reflections of ourselves. But that’s no way to live.

The truth is, no matter how well you clean your child up, she’s still going to struggle. He’s going to hit his sister. She’s going to lie. They’re going to do something shocking. It’s going to happen.

We might think we want cardboard cutouts for kids — the kind who always say the right things and look the right way — but we’d get terribly bored with them. Those are the kids who end up in a therapist’s office in their 30s with an eating disorder or some sort of social anxiety. Rejoice when your “perfect little angel” does something messy. There has to be room in your family for everyone to struggle now and again. After all the real joy in life comes from the messy moments.

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