A couple of weeks back, my wife wrote her blog about the very messy middle. Oh, the messy middle. I LOVE the messy middle. Usually, I love it most in someone else’s life. In someone else’s life I can see the beauty in the messy middle. I can cherish every imperfect smidge of it. I admire how much coloring outside the lines life takes. It’s easier to accept when I’m in the outsider’s view.
From the inside, the messy middle is, well, messy.
Take this little ditty from Friday night. Every couple of weeks, my wife takes an evening after work to tend to her hair. Hair Therapy. We all have our self-care things, and this is one of hers. Not only do they take care of her amazing hair, but she loves the spirit of the place. She comes home relaxed and serene after a tough week.
My evening looks a little more like this text exchange with my wife while she was under the dryer:
Me: So, umm… our daughter just followed a four-step direction.
Me: And… Now she’s melting. So, naturally, I’m letting her ride her bike in the basement
Sage fell off her bike as the doorbell rang for the pizza guy while Challie (the dog) barked and jumped and tripped Noah, who was screaming “pizza, pizza, pizza” at the top of his lungs while falling over Challie and knocking everything off the bookcase.
Natacha: Awesome. Is everyone eating pizza now?
Me: Movie watching. Challie has since eaten, and thrown up, an apple. And… an entire container of cantaloupe is missing
including the container.
[end messy middle scene]
Then there was raking, for two days, on property that’s merely 1/3 of an acre, yet still produces so very many leaves:
Perhaps I neglected to mention how many leaves are still on the trees, or that my daughter spiked a temp in the middle of it all and spent the weekend under the (beautiful) weather.
Truthfully, it’s not as small as a dog stealing an apple or how many leaves fall in my yard: it’s that life is constantly demanding and difficult. Some days I cannot wait to get to work to catch a breath and then I cannot wait to get home to do the same. Nowhere is without its demands and its drama, and all I can do is navigate in the messy middle the best I can.
When I can stay in the messy moment, I can also notice.
I can notice that my entire family raked for at least 5 hours this weekend (with ample tree-climbing breaks), outside and together, without complaint and even with smiles, laughter and games.
I can notice that my daughter was able to tell us what didn’t feel good clearly and directly, without us having to guess and play 20 questions.
I can notice the bright orange on the tree, and catch my wife staring at it in admiration.
I can notice the simple beauty in the messy middle of it all, and breathe gratitude.
As we neared the end of round I of raking, my wife said “Remember when we couldn’t all be out here together like this? We had to take turns.”
The middle may stay messy, but it does always change, evolve, and grow with us. It’s never boring, and always beautiful, just like your child’s first finger-painting and the smudged paint on the walls.
Which is not to say that we I can tie life’s messiness into a pretty little bow of gratitude and call it a day. After all, I still have this tree’s leaves to rake, and more finger-paint on the walls.
But knowing how difficult and demanding each day is, you can bet I’m paying attention to every treasure.