Family Mess, Family Art

This is my everyday day.

Messy Mirror pic 2

My unflattering chore hair.

My pile of washed laundry that may get worn before it gets put away.

My bed. Probably no one’s made it in a week.

My baggy work-stained shirt plastered with fairy stickers–where did she find fairy stickers?

My little Pixie, naked, shoving blocks in my pockets while I’m trying to take a picture for my blog, thank you very much.

And those mirrored closet doors in the master bedroom, so artfully scribbled with flower-shaped hearts and secret messages in washable window marker? Not mine. I keep telling the kids “Grown-ups’ room. Keep out!” and it’s clear they just don’t agree.

This is home.

This is life.

This is a work of art.

And I’m about to take that literally. Oh yes. And I’m going to want reader participation.

It only took me 15 minutes to capture dozens of shots of my family’s Art. And my artist’s instinct tells me that you all might enjoy creating a few masterpieces of your own.

restful hamper


I call this one “Restful Hamper.”

See how quietly it sits in repose, undisturbed.

Let us leave this scene untouched, for Art’s sake.


busy shelf


And here is “Living Shelf.” See how it bursts with the activity of day-to-day business. Like a Town Square for literature and random objects confiscated from my three-year-old. A Slice of Life.


Afternoon Sink


Here we have “Afternoon Sink.” I chose to capture this particular moment because afternoon is the time of day when my sink is at its sinkiest, doing natural sink things. Fulfilling its purpose. Because I’m supportive like that.


Kitchen at Work


And last for this installment, “Kitchen en Operacion Complet.” Here we contemplate the rich texture of the mundane. Our preconceptions about kitchens versus the reality of how kitchens actually live their lives. The tension of vulnerability clearly present as the artist reveals to us an imperfection that she knows may cause others to judge her.

Yes, silliness aside, I am actually pretty nervous about sharing pictures of my messy house. But it’s important (and still really fun) so I’m doing it anyway!

I could write all day about how motherhood has been commercialized and how that hurts families, how the media presents us with unnecessarily high standards for what it means to be a good mom, and how trying to meet these standards–or even believing in some far-off corner of your brain that maybe you should be trying–can be stressful and unhealthy and even backfire for many of us. And yeah, people would listen.

But it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is.

Mess in your house is normal, ESPECIALLY with young kids. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. And the more we share what’s normal for us, the more others will see that they’re doing just fine. Tell your story. Be honest. Change the message.

Now, I want to be clear: some people really like keeping things very clean and pretty or actually find it relaxing to pick up after their kids or fold laundry. I personally enjoy vacuuming. There is no need to put down parents with clean and pretty houses in order to normalize the ones that always have mud in the entryway, last night’s dishes in the sink, closets that look more like a rummage sale than an ad for IKEA. There should be no comments about “real moms” or “real homes.” All moms are real. All homes are real. Kids can do well in shiny color-coordinated houses and houses where the sink is never quite empty of dishes. As long as your home is safe and sanitary, YOU ARE DOING OKAY.

We need to show moms they are doing okay. And we need to be okay with ourselves. So, there’s more Art where this came from. I’m going to be keeping my camera in hand for future installments. And I’m looking for reader submissions! It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort. If you see a room, a corner, any thing in your house that you want to share as a work of your family’s art, mail it to me at, and I’ll include it in one of my installments. I want to get a party going here! The more people we have participating, the stronger the message. I’ll keep submissions anonymous to make sure everyone feels secure about being open.

So grab your phone/camera and a quick picture of those kitchen cabinets covered in week-old pudding hand prints. Immortalize the end table that magnetically attracts junk mail and perpetually unfinished paperback novels. We’re going to create our own Museum of Family Art.


6 thoughts on “Family Mess, Family Art

  1. Great post, love your attitude, my house has plenty of areas to snap photos for this so will try and send you a few!! 🙂 Xx

    • Great! I’ve already received a handful of submissions, and I’m looking forward to making this a regular thing. The more participation and variety we can get, the better!

    • Perfect. I’m planning on putting up a second installment in the next week or two. Including one of my disorganized spice cabinet full of bulk spices that I keep leaving in bags.

  2. This is great, I loved this post. It was a mind massage for my frazzled brain. I loved the “we are all real moms”. Thanks for writing this.

  3. Pingback: Family Mess, Family Art. Round II | No Dead Beetles

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