About the Author

Lisa-Jo is the best-selling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood. Her newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them.

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  1. Lisa-Jo,
    After I read your post, all I wanted to say was, “Good for you!” The days of smudgy fingerprints on everything will disappear in the blink of an eye. My children are 25 and 21 and when I look back I don’t recall the days the laundry was neatly done and put away, I recall the days we took our lawn chairs out to the curb, with a snack, and sat and talked and watched the world go by. These are the times my kids remember too. The dirty laundry will always be there, but the dancing will not…dance!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • I agree, completely, Bev – My daughters are 24 and 21 and you are so right, I don’t remember the clean house or the dishes washed or laundry done. I remember the dancing, the playing dress up, the running around until the street lights come on, the playing fish until I couldn’t see straight, the reading books every night, “Please, mommy, just one more.” Those are the times to remember. And, yes they are gone in a blink of an eye. But the memories are eternal.

      Thanks, Lisa, for such a beautiful picture painted in our minds. Enjoy dancing, every opportunity you can! Hugs –

      Jean

  2. I do like having a clutter free house, it lowers my stress level, but like your post it would have to be all I did all day long, everyday. Then this thought came to my mind, One day my house will be clean…but empty! So even though it’s difficult, I’m trying to be more accepting of the clutter and remember it won’t always be there, and neither will they!

    • This is exactly how I feel, especially when people comment on the state of my house. The children will only be little for so long… chores can wait.

      ~F

    • I try to remember that time flies by. I, too, battle with needing a clutter-free house. I have MS, and it throws me into over-stimulation mode which then prevents me from enjoying the dancing. I have decided that my next house(hopefully this year), will have an upstairs loft where everyone will have permission to leave everything out. I’ll wait for them to come downstairs to pray and to start dancing!!

      Thanks for the needed reminder.

  3. Cute post…and so true to take time away from the regular “stuff” ~ it will be there for another time ~ it isn’t going any where….

  4. Needed to read this this morning! Had one of those weekends just needed to dance….this morning I am facing the work &,was beating myself up…..deep breath and it will all come together! Thanks for reminding me it is good to just let go!

    • Yup, no need for guilt or frustration – because if you made time to just “be” with your kids this weekend – on their terms – you’re successful as a mom. You did it! Go you! The house compliments you and so do I.

  5. Blessings to you sweet momma! At the end of your day you have a scrapbook full of pictures and a heart full of memories! Nothing trumps that…ever 🙂

  6. Beautiful pictures! Love having a clean and organized house, but would trade that
    any day for beautiful family moments, Love your post! Thanks for sharing friend…

  7. Oh, I love that term!
    “renaissance mom”
    I’m totally using that! (Assuming my brain can remember it longer than 10 minutes)

  8. Oh how I wish you’d been around when my children were little. How I needed to hear this then. God bless you Lisa.

  9. This brings a smile to my face. I know this to well. Thank you Lisa I always need reminders to slow down, life is no hurry, enjoy my children and bring fun and laughter, Just make memories. 🙂

  10. “The days may pass slowly, but the years fly by”……remember this daily and “dance” your way to memories!

  11. What a breathtakingly wonderful post!

    HOORAY for dancing and for Moms who’ve glimpsed “the bigger picture”, the most vital picture/roll as the fuel-er of-the-soul!

    LOL: My friend has a Myopic Music Mop Moments in the kitchen with his granddaughter. They crank up the music, move all the furniture to the beat of the song…….sweep the floor and get up all the crumbs. Then slosh water everywhere as they slip and slide in their stocking feet & mop clothes (mostly while on their hineys and knees—but toes are GREAT for corners, Lol). Then they get on their hands and knees and wipe it all up with their “drying towels” and THEN break out the REAL mops for a finishing touch.
    They’ve laughed and giggled their way into each other’s hearts….and as she’s gotten older they’ve be able to leave behind a rather neat looking kitchen. They drop the cleaning rags into the washer (without turning it on) and then it’s bath time each in their turn. Then they solemnly drop their clothes into the washer and say a Thankfulness prayer (with giggles) and turn it on. Voila: Happy hearts, warm memories, and a love for cleaning (albeit unconventionally).

    My Brother’s rendition of this very thing, keeps things on mop-level, Lol…..and STILL makes for a GREAT time.

    Love what you shared. Thanks ever so much.

  12. I remember when the girls were little and Dad was away for the night, we would have popcorn and cheese for supper. ….Or garlic-cheese grits……We would picnic in the living room floor on sleeping bags tht they later slept in.

    They are grown now. With babes—teenagers!— of their own……
    Now I dance with my Collies…… YouTube acct. FA37800. You can see us there.

  13. What a breath of fresh air! Thank you! Thanks for giving us all permission to leave the Legos and laundry, the crumbs and the clutter… and to just dance.

  14. I love this! We had a weekend of the same. Lots of naked toddlers and dancing to Shosholoza and mud pies and painting and drawing and loveliness. So much joy and fun and it is so worth it. I always need Monday to get the house back into some sort of order, though!

  15. This made me cry this morning. Why did it make me cry??

    I’ve been so busy with doing that I’m forgetting about BEING (which is ironic because of this whole BE thing I’m doing)…and my heart is longing to just stop. This line in particular pierced me:

    “Because some days I remember I’m more than the house cleaner in this joint. Some days I remember that I’m a joy bringer.”

    Thank you for reminding me how beautiful it is to s-t-o-p.

  16. You are such a beautiful writer. Every posting, you have one beautiful line that sticks with me. Today, I love this one:

    “Because some days I remember I’m more than the house cleaner in this joint. Some days I remember that I’m a joy bringer.”

  17. Let the dancing continue! I can attest to the fact that children grow up SO fast! And it won’t be the clean dishes or neatly folded laundry or toys organized in orderly fashion that either you OR your children remember, but these precious moments where you took the time to reverence the present. Piled leaves holding tiny, wiggly bodies. The communion of cheese and crackers. The loud throbbing of music that beats in their hearts long after it is quieted in the room. Yes, you are a wise mama indeed.

  18. Thinking about what you wrote makes me sad, as I’ve always been a mom with a big to-do list and I’m forever working on it. I have missed out on the “fun stuff” many times with my kids. They are now 11 and 15 and it seems like it’s too late for those times together building memories (especially with my teen son). My kids are off doing their own things now. I guess I can try to start where I’m at, but it’s just not the same and I regret what I’ve missed….

    • Never never too old. Some of my favorite dance party memories were in the living room with my dad when I’d come home from college and he’d put on his favorite oldies and we’d two step across the rug together 🙂

      • Thanks for the encouragement!! Sometimes I’m just too hard on myself and forget the things I *have* done with my kids!!

  19. I loved your post today! my “babies” are all grown up now, the oldest 35, then 34, 32 and the baby is 30 so my house was always askew! I used to vision these perfectly organized clutter free homes, but they never existed! I spent time volunteering at school, doing crafts and baking cookies. Our house was the one where all the kids gathered, some would walk in without knocking… I guess they just felt comfortable! 🙂 Now its just my husband and I and the house is clean, until we get the grand babies for a weekend and life is sweet!

  20. You are very blessed that your husband doesn’t mind the mess that inevitably happens. I have 3 – all 2 yrs. apart. Two in diapers at the same time. And if I forgot the dry cleaning, well . . . I got “What did you do all day?”
    Live and love, Lisa-Jo! Awesome!

    Cathy

  21. O yes!!! My six girls are41,37,34,32,30 and 28….. And boy did we dance!!!! Now I dance with my 11 grands… Lol … And I’m so glad that I realized how fast time flies.. Moms please fit those days into your schedules… My girls remember those dance says when we cranked up the music and just danced!!! Now they are dancin with their kiddos.. Love this post!!! It’s never too late to start dancing!!!! Just call and warn the neighbors!!! He he !!!! Wonderful memories…. Y’all make some memories too!!!!

  22. We love a good dance party in our house!!! One of the things that I discovered and LOVE is cleaning to music- we literally dance our house clean. We play 3 songs and clean as much as we can in that time frame. Whatever is done is great. Doing this every night makes it all more manageable for me, it keeps the kids involved and it is FUN!!!!
    I so want my kids to grow up knowing that it is good to make messes and it is fun to clean them up. I grew up hating to clean, so I am determined to teach my kids a better way.
    We dance to some African songs and they always remind me of you! 🙂

    • Amen to that – music makes everything better. And I find if I give my boys the iPhone to pick out their own tunes (I’ve created stations for each of them) then they’ll happily clean away in their bedroom for ages.

  23. Our pastor was saying just last nite that sometimes you get the most done when you do nothing at all, God bless him. Thanks for your lovely post, too & way to go!

  24. Crying right now because it’s 2:45 and I just ate for the first time today. The baby spit up on me-gallons, it seemed-three times this morning. The two year old got the training toilet seat stuck on her head and the three year old accidentally clocked me in the eye. I think I will just turn up the music now. 🙂

  25. Amen, Lisa Jo! This reminds me of a post I wrote based on your prompt, “Laundry” a few weeks back. Sometimes we have to buckle down and do our duty. We have to clean and tidy and have the home spit-spot. If we never do, we are being a bit on the lazy side. But if we allow the order and the lists to dominate every day, we miss these wonderfully tasty moments that shape lives and mold hearts and bind us all together. Thanks for another sweet reminder!
    http://heartshomeward.blogspot.com/2013/10/laundry.html

  26. There is never enough dancing so you crank up that music and DANCE DANCE DANCE. Lisa Jo!!!

  27. Your words made my heart sing!! Thank you soul sister for always putting things into perspective with this ministry of words

  28. This is beautiful. What a great image, and a great reminder to take time to slow down and be a joy bringer. I know what the kids and I will be doing tomorrow night!

  29. Thank you. I’m a *joy-bringer*, too. Which is also why there are days at my house where our laundry and dishes overflow…but our heart-smiles are huge and peace is felt even in the “chaos” and I wasn’t raised this way, so I feel something is *so right*…and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

  30. May God bless you over and over 🙂 Your children will grow up with such great memories. They will grow up knowing that they mattered. That they were worth more than a clean home. That they were loved! What a great momma you are!!

    Love,
    Patty

  31. I love this and needed it. All of your posts speak to my stage in life. Thanks for the reminder that we all need to set down our lists and be a “joy bringer.”

  32. Dear Lisa-Jo, this may seem a bit off topic, but would you (and any willing fellow readers) pray that I will believe the gospel? I feel like I cannot be a joy bringer right now because of sinful pride that is keeping me from Christ; will you pray that I will love being his child so that I can also enjoy my children? Thank you

  33. As I sit here for a quiet moment while my two precious ones rest for a little bit, I see chaos reigning in our home…but I also know that today has been full of laughter and hugs and a few more hugs to top it off…and coloring pages and animal adventures and book reading. When they wake up, we will dance…to cap off our “not productive by the world’s standards, but productive in our hearts” day! Thank you for letting me catch my breath of today and feel accomplished…for being there today. Your writing brings perspective and smiles to my day! 🙂

  34. I wish blogs had been around when I was raising my kids. People like you could have encouraged me to put aside my to do list and have fun with my kids! Sounds like you had a great day!!

  35. So encouraging! My name is Jennifer and I am addicted to cleaning my kitchen. I need to remember to step away from the dirty pizza stone and play with my babies! Thanks for the reminder.
    mommylifeafterphd.blogspot.com

  36. GOOD FOR YOU!!! Nice that you warned the husband too. But awesome that you focused on the stuff that really counts at the end of the day… the end of a life… Making moments of Joy!

    It made me happy to just to read about it. Thanks! =)

  37. Thank you Lisa-Jo! What a beautiful reminder. I am realizing that I often, and mostly, live frantic, but I want to live full. Instead of feeling the weight of tasks to be done- I want to, more often, embrace the blessings; daring to leave tasks undone for the sake of entering into these precious lives ’round. To stop hurrying up and just enter into each moment; sacred, messy and full. Thank you.

  38. To Kat, who commented above:
    I love your honesty, and I know what that point of wanting to believe but struggling can feel like. You are in my prayers. May the truth that you are loved more than you can imagine become more than words, but a safe haven.

  39. It’s funny, when we had our first child, my husband still wanted the house reasonably picked up but I was willing to let it go. Now, expecting our fourth, I’m the one that wants the house to look presentable (doesn’t happen! lol) and my husband tells me to just let the mess go! =) He’s accepted the fact that we will not have a clean house as long as the children are young, and with more children. I need to work on realizing that I can’t keep up with the mess like I could with one or two children. Like Grandma told me when we visited last (and the children pulled out every toy they could find at her house), “I miss having children around and things laying all over the place. Now, it’s just me and I can do whatever I want, when I want, and the house stays clean. But, it’s not as much fun.” Wise woman. =)

  40. Lisa Jo,

    I feel, even though not a mother myself, that it is important to spend time with the youngsters. Show themt hat you care enough to let the other stuff go and just do and be in the moment with them for a while.

    I often have days when I just don’t feel like doing anything. Sometimes I just sit on couch and veg out on TV. God said rest is important. He also said to love those around you and you were showing your kids love by spending time with them! Very Wise mama!@!

    Blessings!@

  41. I can definitely relate. I always have a list of things to do a mile long, and I imagine that will be the case for a long time because when you prioritize family time sometimes other things just have to wait. I’ve been really focusing on finding a balance between getting things done and having family time because if I let things get too chaotic then I start to fall apart too. I switched jobs recently so that I can have a better balance between work, family time and household responsibilities.

  42. This post is amazing in many ways. I love your honesty. Even as a stay at home mom it seems I can’t catch up with the laundry and the cleaning. Simply learning to enjoy days of rest & and creating memories that will last forever! The laundry can wait:)))

  43. Thank you so much for this. Oh my, how I lived this very writing. Treasure every dance! Laundry eventually gets done. Library books finally get found – and thankfully the fine is never more than the actual book cost! But children grow up before you can blink. And who they become is shaped and formed in the precious moments you have captured in such beautiful wording. For a few minutes, I was back in a house with blanket and pillow forts, three little ones in costumes reenacting Disney theme songs and lego zoos filled with all the stuffed animals in the house. We have three beautiful, creative, loving adult children now. And I have plenty of time to do laundry….=0)

  44. I just want to hug you for this. I have an almost 3-year-old and 13 month twins. Today–WE DANCED. HALLELUJAH! !!! Thank you. The photos are MOST precious. Your daughter is unimaginably adorable.

  45. LOVE IT!!!! My dear friends lost their 31 year old son in a motorcycle accident a year ago. We recently watched a video of his life from birth to his leaving. This was put together lovingly by a family member. Those wonderful dancing moments are sometimes all we have left. These are the memories of the heart and make going forward easier. We won’t remember the unwashed dishes but we will remember the beautiful sound of laughter. So let’s all sing and dance and laugh as we do the dishes, laundry, etc

  46. I so needed this today. My girls are 4 and 2. There are days I just want to play with them. When I do I often feel guilty for all I wasn’t able to get done. Thank you for reminding me those days are just as important, and probably more, that the days the laundry and dishes are done!

  47. That was beautifully said. We all talk about how short life is but rarely do we live it.
    I so wish I would of danced more with my boys when they were little. Our house was a clean, picked up, orderly life of action figures and legos. I was always having them pick up a toy just as soon as they put it down. Of course there was a lot of fun and carefree moments but I wish there had been more, many more. We don’t get do-overs for those years. One boy is now 21 and the other passed away 2 years ago. But those crates of legos are in the attic just waiting for a grandchild to come and remind me just how sweet and precious life really is.