I’m in this place right now where I just can’t seem to keep up with life.

My floors are sticky, my son ate his cereal with a measuring spoon this morning since none of the dishes were clean, and I found my husband digging through the hamper to find a pair of semi-clean socks before work because what do you know, I’m behind on the laundry . . . again.

I literally can’t remember the last time I washed my hair. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could fry an egg with all of the grease residing in my roots at the moment. My brain is running a mile a minute, and the sticky note on the fridge of phone calls that need to be made is getting longer instead of shorter with each day.

I go to bed every night resolving to get caught up the next day, but I look around 24 hours later to find that not much has changed.

This morning, I felt the weight of failure surround me as I looked around, unsure if I should start with the mess in our home, the mess in my hair, or the mess in my brain.

As the familiar ache of anxiety rose in my chest, my 3-year-old slipped his hand into mine and led me to the living room where his favorite puzzle and little brother were waiting on the rug. Gazing up at me, he asked sweetly, “Mommy, wanna do dis puzzle wif us?” his big blue eyes completely oblivious to the disarray around him.

Here’s the thing: when I look around and focus on clutter of every kind, my kids look at me and just see their mommy.

Where I see mess, my kids see the home where their memories are being made; memories that they desperately want me to be a part of.

Where I see near-bare cupboards and a refrigerator that needs restocked, my kids see a fun mom who let them have fruit snacks for breakfast because she hadn’t made it to the grocery store yet.

Where I see a to-do list that is calling—no, screaming—my name, my kids see a mom who chose instead to sit down in the middle of the chaos and help them put together a puzzle piece-by-piece.

Where I see failure, my kids remind me that value doesn’t always lie in the places I tend to think it does.

My kids don’t care if the house is a mess. They don’t care if I’m a mess . . . they just want me. They just need me.

They need to know that regardless of the chaos of life, I am in this with them and for them. They need my love, presence, and intention in their lives. The rest is just background noise.

No, I can’t put off my responsibilities forever—heaven knows my kids’ love isn’t going to mop that sticky apple juice off of the kitchen floor—but I can allow myself to breathe.

I can give myself permission to realize that my worth as a wife, or a mother, or a human being doesn’t depend solely on the organization of my home or any other part of my life.

And yours doesn’t either.

It’s OK to be a mess sometimes, mamas. Our kids just want us, and that is something we always have the power to give to them.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward