So, usually our house is complete and utter chaos. It kind of resembles a three-ring circus, only without the ringmaster holding everything together. I think I am supposed to be the ringmaster, but since I am an introvert I am usually hiding out in my room, so there goes the whole "managing the chaos" gig. Just to demonstrate what I mean by chaos, one day my status update on Facebook was that at the particular moment my daughter was on the computer asking Google how to potty-train a hamster, my middle child was running naked around the house and screaming at the top of his lungs, and my youngest was happily engaged in drowning his stuffed animals in the tub. Because that's not concerning AT ALL. And I was sitting in the middle of it and blocking it all out with social media. So yeah. And for the record, that was not an unusual day. For some reason, I just felt like sharing our normal madness with the world that day.
Most of the time, I try to regard our household craziness as perfectly normal, while secretly thinking it is probably a sign that we are lacking something in our parenting method. Like, if we were more consistent with structure and rules, surely our children wouldn't be running around like uncivilized hellions. If I was more organized, maybe we would be better about sticking to those routines. Maybe then our son would sit calmly throughout a TV show instead of climbing onto the top of his bean bag chair and then flying off head first while shouting "Captain Underpants!" In short, our very messy and noisy way of being must be due to something we are doing wrong.
And then we go visit someone else's house for an extended time, and are thrown into their structure, their daily routine. It's a lovely change for about two days, and then I start feeling antsy. No, not antsy exactly. Constrained. I feel constrained. I am barking at the kids to behave (and usually they are already behaving, but I'm on pins and needles that they won't be behaving in the near future, so I am yelling at them for whatever they might possibly do sometime). We are getting up at odd times. We are going to bed at odd times. We are eating at odd times. You'd think all this oddness would be perfect for us, but it always leaves me feeling very off-kilter. And this is when I realize something wonderful.
Our chaos is not a sign that something has gone wrong. It's a sign that something is very right. It's a sign that our kids are comfortable. That WE are comfortable. It's a sign that we are at home. My husband and I had this conversation recently that kids behave their worst wherever the unconditional love is. That is the place where they feel safe to let it all out. We want that place to be our home. So when our kids act like they do, it's because they are comfortable being their crazy, funny, goofy, and evidently slightly homicidal selves.
Thankfully, they do manage to pull it together in public. They are little angels at schools. They are not undisciplined or anything like that. They are good, normal kids. And we do actually have routine and flow to our days. It takes me stepping outside of it to see it sometimes. but when I step back into it I feel the relief and comfort of it like a hug from a friend. Stable but flexible. It bends and shapes itself to whatever we need that day. A more structured format would be too rigid for us. We need suppleness. A little mess, a little crazy. It's fun, actually. There's a lot of laughter and freedom. And immeasurable amounts of love.