Growing up, Emily and I shared a room, and we used the extra bedroom (affectionately called the backroom) for a playroom. I’m pretty sure I owe most of my creativity to the backroom. Well, the backroom and my mom. Because we’d play with our Barbies and My Little Ponies and GlamourGals and set up intricate rooms and scenarios and at the end of the day, Mom didn’t make us clean it up.
It wasn’t until I was a grown up with boys of my own that I realized what a gift that was. I’d visit my friend’s homes and after a play-date watching the little ones work feverishly to invent a beautiful mess of a maze of a Thomas The Train track in the playroom, the announcement came: time to clean it all up, cue the Barney and Friends song.
There’s nothing wrong with cleaning up. And it’s not like my mom never told us to clean up the backroom. But the default was that whatever it was that we built, we got to keep playing with the next day. If we were building in the family room, we’d probably have to clean it up. I’m so grateful that even in our tiny house, our mom gave us a space to create without insisting that we make it presentable at the end of the day.
Now that I’m a mom, I realize not only is it a gift to my boys, to give them a place where their creations can grow over time, but it’s also a gift to myself. Why did I ever fret over making sure every toy was put in its proper bin in the playroom before bed every. single. night? That’s a lot of work for me and for them. Maybe I can spend that little bit of extra time reminding myself that I want my boys to see me be creative. I want to hunt for creativity. Maybe I can teach them by example that yes, I want a clean and presentable home–there are lots of perks to that. But I don’t want a perfectly clean home with no room for messes and risk and trial and error. It’s wise to be purposeful about making a mess.
I now see the beauty in the half built LEGO dragon. I’m glad I didn’t insist they clean up the puzzle that was only 25% complete and in the middle of the table. There’s a time and a place for everything in it’s place, but there’s also a time and a place for creating.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27