The above post showed up on my newsfeed a couple of months ago and I wanted to stand up and cheer. If there is anything disheartening about Facebook it’s how many young women whine about having so much to do for their families and how impossible it is to get it all done. As this young mom said, it’s almost like a badge of honor to say about such things, “Well, this is what real life is like.” Real life is evidently having your family live in disorder and chaos and bragging about it.
Now let me tell you that this young mother I applauded has not one but two children, and one of them is a chronically ill child who requires many times more doctor appointments than yours do, including emergency room runs for things you give your child a couple of Tylenol for and hope they won’t run around too much for the neighbors or church folks or schoolmates to think they really are sick. This young mother has excuses for a house in disarray and an overflowing laundry hamper but refuses to use them.
Since I had never heard of this “hot mess” phenomenon, I did a little research. Evidently it is applied in several different areas, some that have no business in a Christian’s life at all, but the common denominator in them all is never managing to complete the tasks at hand. I also found several lists, some meant to be humorous, others helpful in straightening out those who have this mentality, and other lists helping people to recognize that personality and keep their distance! Here are three things that I think we can all work on.
1. For people who are “hot messes,” clutter and disarray seem to be second nature. We aren’t talking about the toys being all over the floor because the kids have been playing hard this morning, or the counters covered with pots and pans because you are in the middle of an elaborate meal for guests. We are talking about people who don’t have the maturity to organize and compartmentalize their lives, making sure that important papers like birth certificates and car titles are kept in a safe place, that the receipt you need to return that defective whatever can easily be found, or not needing to worry about what your little one might pick up and eat off your floor. These things matter, and they are part of your job as a homemaker.
2. Another characteristic of a “hot mess” is that she never takes responsibility for her own actions. “I would have but…” becomes a staple of her conversation. After awhile you get so tired of hearing the excuses, you simply turn them off. Bottom line: what needed doing did not get done. And if there is not a reason, there is always another person to blame—even one who not only does not live in the same house but whose name she doesn’t even know. That person just had the misfortune to cross paths with her that morning and so is awarded the dubious distinction of being today’s scapegoat.
3. And the last one I saw that really made sense was that a “hot mess” is always a talker and never a doer. She makes lists but it is rare she ever marks one off. She makes plans but never follows through. Why? Because she is always talking. Or posting. Or looking at her phone to check on likes and comments and shares. I knew a woman once who literally could not work and talk at the same time. I went to her home to help her cook a meal for company. Every time she opened her mouth her hands stopped moving. I worked circles around her and cooked three dishes to her one.
I am not unsympathetic to young mothers. I used to be one, and not so long ago that I cannot remember it. Not long after my first child was born something happened—I am not sure what—but suddenly I burst into tears. “What’s wrong?” my alarmed husband asked. I could not even answer him. Now I know what it was—I was simply overwhelmed.
I had not had a good night’s sleep for several months. I could not get anything done until nap time. All that advice about resting when your baby does is nonsense. It cannot be done unless you want to literally wade through laundry, toys, mail, bills, newspapers, and magazines for a year.
I looked at my weeping self and thought, “What in the world is wrong with you? This should be the happiest time of your life.” But I, too, grew up on TV shows where babies magically go to sleep when you lay them down and stay that way until you have time to play with them or feed them or show them off to your friends—another piece of nonsense. Babies require more of you than you thought it was possible to give. They demand your time and your attention, not out of malice but because they cannot survive any other way.
Every first time mother needs to know that it’s okay to cry. Sometime in the first few months you will stand there like an idiot and bawl your eyeballs out. It’s okay. What’s not okay is to keep on doing it. As my young friend said in her post, you’re supposed to be tired. You’re supposed to feel inundated. You’re supposed to fall into bed every night utterly exhausted. That’s your job now, but you can’t just quit, and you certainly shouldn’t glory in being “a hot mess.” You grow up. You get better. Maybe we will talk about that tomorrow.
*The post I quoted in the beginning was written by Miranda Nerland.