‘I wish my house looked like this,’ I said while wrangling my toddlers from touching anything in this museum of beauty. She looked at me sadly and said, ‘Why?’

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“The house goes to auction in 4 weeks. In that time, I’ve never cleaned so much as I have in my life. We had photos for the real estate and My friend even commented that it doesn’t even look like kids live here, there’s no toys on the floors, no fingerprints on the walls, no nappy station and shoes, no LEGO’s on the floor… and I said to my husband, this is bliss, let’s try and keep it this way.

I have a friend who is in her 50’s, she’s my wise friend who always says things that just clicks and makes you feel better about life and I went over quickly to pop into her house to return some fake flowers we borrowed.

I looked around her house and saw how clean and big and beautiful it is. There are rooms where you can see the carpet hasn’t moved from the last time she vacuumed it. Beds are made, no traces of toys or sticky fingers, no sandwich crusts on the couch, or stains on them. No cupboards stuffed with evidence that people live here. It was a big picture-perfect display home that made me envious. I looked around and sighed and said, ‘Oh I wish my house always looked like this without having to dedicate three days of stuffing everything into a cupboard and sending the kids off to be minded to the in-laws just to clean.’ I said this while trying to wrangle both my toddlers from touching or messing anything up in this museum of beauty.

And she looked at me sadly and said, ‘why?’

Her face looked defeated and her eyes darted across the pictures of her kids on the walls when they were Luca and Sofia’s age going right up until they graduated university.

And that’s when I realized what her ‘why?’ meant.

I guess I realized to have this perfect display home meant that no one lived in it. That there would be literally no traces of it to hide for visitors or real estate agents because it wouldn’t exist. That even though the endless amounts of washing, random little bits of toys that are painful to step on, soft fluffy toys that are so many they live on top of each other…meant my house was full. Crusts meant breakfasts time with little hearts running around, and fingerprints and drawings on the walls meant little minds growing and exploring. And no matter how overwhelming it was for me, or how many times I was embarrassed for the state of it, my friend, would give anything right now to have it.

She smiled at me as she saw my brain ticking, and said, ‘You know when I say it goes so fast, you understand now what I mean…’ and I hate it, I hate it when she says to be grateful or that time goes so fast because I’m so worn out and exhausted and sometimes I just wanna scream and rush to bed time… and that’s okay, it doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful, but now I didn’t hate the comment so much… because I understood.

She said, ‘One day you’ll have to bug them to call you, and you’ll wish, you’ll give anything to just feel that pain under your foot of a stowaway diecast hot wheel car as you lose your balance and fall from it sliding underneath you… you will.’

And we both laughed and cried. Jesus this woman always makes me cry.

So when I got back home I pulled out all the toys I packed so neatly and watched my two children make memories that they’ll forget, but I’ll keep in my heart in a lifetime, knowing that time does go fast and I’m happy if the clock slows down a little.

(And then I quickly packed it all away when they went to sleep, because you know, it’s okay to have both, right?)

So mamas, don’t feel bad for the mess, like they say, your children are making memories.”

Laura Mazza

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Laura Mazza of Mum on the Run, where it originally appeared. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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