Esther Anderson — a stay-at-home mom to two littles, blogger, and all-around extraordinary woman behind the page, Story of this Life — has a way of keeping it real. So it’s no surprise that she’s curated a massive following on her blog and social media accounts, given her posts about home life with young kids always seem to leave us feeling completely and utterly understood, as well as inspired. Her most recent share, a photo which was actually snapped by Anderson’s young daughter, was no different.
The image, which in just a few hours already has over 8.4K likes and hundreds of shares, shows Anderson snuggling her baby daughter in the midst of a messy house, complete with couch cushions askew and a living room floor covered with laundry. We know this scene well, don’t we? The image alone perfectly captures not just the day-to-day chaos of being a stay-at-home parent, but the challenging emotions that come with it.
But the honest mom’s words are what really hit home with readers. Anderson writes in the caption:
“The baby was fussy, the girls were fighting, and I had been trying to get the laundry done all morning and was getting nowhere — so I gave my phone to the girls to play on and Ellia snapped this picture, looked at me and said matter of factly, ‘you’re a good mommy.’ I literally let out a laugh thinking about the chaos of the morning and my frustrated mom mood, how I had just finished yelling at them and was about to give up and just let them fight. I found this picture later on my phone and was reminded that the memories our kids are going to have one day are not going to be of how messy the house is and how little laundry actually made it back into drawers but of the moments we spend with them.”
As a stay-at-home parent, I can totally relate to the messy scene and how it feels to be caught in the middle of it all. Sometimes it feels like the walls are caving in on you, as you try to manage household chores, tend to the kids’ needs, and break up their fights. It can feel like you are getting absolutely nothing done and like every task you do is pointless. It’s hard feeling caught in the never-ending cycle, that sometimes leaves you feeling overwhelmed, defeated, and a little scattered.
I love that this busy mom is so forthcoming about those struggles and what many of us feel so often. Because the stress of being home with kids all day can feel so huge that we sometimes think we might be we’re drowning in it. But it’s so important to acknowledge that we all feel it from time to time — that it’s simply part of parenting small children. Those admissions are what make Story of this Life such an uplifting page to follow.
What’s also true about living the life of a stay-at-home parent is that sometimes we end up overcome with guilt — born from the fear that we aren’t holding it together a little more gracefully. We think that maybe the picture we had in our minds of exactly what our kid’s childhood would look like isn’t quite matching up with reality of our messy houses and piles upon piles of laundry.
But maybe we were wrong to begin with about what makes a happy home. Maybe conquering the laundry and the dishes and keeping it all together isn’t the point. At least not all the time.
Anderson’s post also urges us to shift our perspective. Instead of seeing the mess, she wants us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture — which, when you think about it, is really what our kids see all of the time. That’s what is so powerful about this particular post. It reminds us to find the “pause” button, something that can often feel so incredibly hard to locate. And yet somehow, it’s something our kids that so easily remind us of, whether it’s with kind words they whisper in our ear, or a photo they snap in the midst of the craziness.
No matter how it comes, we get a tiny glimpse of their perspective, and we remember that our own experience is not necessarily theirs. Our emotions are not theirs, and their memories won’t be dictated by this messy room or pile of laundry. It’s simply not what’s important to them. Because even when the house is a disaster, to them, we still might look like pretty great moms. How uplifting is that?
What Anderson’s post did was give us all an important reminder of the fact that even if everything looks completely like it’s falling apart, our kids usually see something pretty different. And every once in a while, it’s good to tap into that — to bask in their innocent glow, to ignore the laundry, or not worry if it gets put away within the hour, or even by day’s end.
It’s not easy to feel like the house is crumbling before your very eyes, no matter what you do. But if we can all strive to remember that our kids don’t cherish perfectly put-together rooms as much as they cherish our being with them, it can help us to know that really, we’re doing alright. Tidy rooms are great, if and when they happen. But it’s the love that happens in those rooms that our kids will feel, and hold onto, the most.
As I’m being buried in household tasks, from one day to the next, I, for one, could use a whole lot more reminders of what really matters. And like so many, I’m grateful for Esther (and her daughter) for the one she gave me today.