It’s not uncommon to ask children what they want to be when they grow up.

Some of us are born with a drive in our hearts toward a passion that blossoms into a career path. Women will hold their first babies and post sweet statuses about how they “always dreamed about being a mom”. Sons will follow in their fathers’ footsteps and take on the family business.

I vacillated between hopes of becoming a lawyer, a teacher, an artist, and a radio show host like Kristi Lee. I always kind of figured I would become a mother, but I never daydreamed of rocking babies or making bottles, sweetly naming future children in my heart before they ever came to be. 

Instead, for as long as I can remember, my dreamy-eyed visions of things to come always revolved around my future home. 

Would this paint swatch I picked up at Lowe’s still be trendy in 20 years? What art would line the halls? Would I keep things neutral or livened up with splashes of color?

What number of Christmas trees could I squeeze in front of picturesque windows to be admired by passersby? 

Would I someday reside in old brick home oozing with natural hardwoods and charm? Maybe a lakehouse? 

I would sigh pleasantly as I pictured myself walking lazily downtown from my imaginary FRIENDS-like apartment to a local coffee shop.

If you had taken aside a young me and showed her photographic evidence of what her house would actually look like one day—she would be HORRIFIED. 

“Why are there so many old pizza boxes stacked up on the counter?!”

“WHOSE LAUNDRY IS ALL THAT!?”

“Where’s the character?! The charm??? And . . . why is that rug covered in monster trucks??”

Ahh . . . my reality. 

Turns out, younger me, I am in fact not the mom with the cutest house on the block.

I’m the mom with the dining room table that can’t be used for dining. It’s covered in too much crap. 

I’m the mom with 15 loads of laundry washed, dried and folded on top of the dryer, hopelessly waiting for someone else in the family to put it away in their closets and drawers. 

If you consider plastic toy lawnmowers and basketball goals to count as “landscaping” when we’ve got that going for us.

No, when people walk into this house they don’t immediately comment on how cute it is or ask where I scored those adorable throw pillows. They’re stepping over the pile of 1,000 shoes kicked off carelessly by the door, some being knocked unconscious by the smell of wax melts I use to overcompensate for, ya know, the mess.

My dining room and living room are both half-painted. Two days of work and two coats in, I realized I actually hated Shale Ridge Gray and should have just gone with classic white like I’d always dreamed. But life, time, work, money, kids, and schedules have left me staring at unfinished business, both in my home . . . and in my heart. 

Why does it bother me so much? I know I’m defined by God, not by the state of my home . . . but it makes me feel like a failure.

I worry that you’ll think I’m not put-together enough. 

I’m afraid you’re going to think I’m lazy.

Am I making my husband look bad? Are my kids ashamed or embarrassed of me? 

I have a vision for this place, this sanctuary of space God has provided for us. 

But it seems I don’t have the time, resources, drive, or ability to make what is in my mind actually occur outside of it.

I hate admitting it. I’d much rather you think I don’t care, that I’m just a super fun mom who allows her kids to make memories and that’s why things are such a wreck. 

Sometimes I dream of clearing my calendar for weeks at a time, doing nothing but painting and fixing and then inviting you over once you’d be stepping into a Pottery Barn catalog, not a Chuck E. Cheese that hasn’t been remodeled since the 90s.

But instead . . . I’m going to keep opening the door when you come by.

I may be cringing, overly aware of your mental assessment of the Doritos crushed on the couch, but I’ll brush them off and welcome you in. 

We can take the kids out back. 

You can see that my life isn’t perfect, and that’s OK.

We can sit in this mess together, the messes in our heads and our hearts, drink some coffee, and pray.

Time will go by and my kids will grow and move out. I may or may not ever live in the house of my dreams.

But I won’t let it keep me from enjoying the life we’re building together within these walls. 

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Morgan Massey

A former teen mom & recovering perfectionist, Morgan writes to give unexpected hope to other women drowning in anxiety, depression, motherhood, or just...life.  She lives in Indiana with her family.