This piece was originally published on February 11, 2018.

My son spilled my coffee this morning. All over the living room floor. It seems like it’s always on the harder days where these kinds of messes happen — where I’m already praying for a redo and I haven’t even gotten out of bed. There are a few stains around the house that memorialize these hard days; they haven’t all yet faded away.

The Messes

For example, I bought a white table last year. I thought that I could muscle a little bit of farmhouse into our house, but I forgot that I don’t have a live-in maid. Now, the table has this yellow tint that’s appeared around the edges after scrubbing and washing the top over and over again. It’s also decorated with dents, and chips, and permanent marker showcasing the times our family has spent there together: eating, crafting, and more.

Also, we painted our walls not my most favorite color right when we moved into this house. In fact, I think we painted it once, and then we painted it twice. It’s still not the color I want it to be, but I’m indecisive like that. Of course, it doesn’t actually matter what color my walls are, as my kids have discovered that walls are like canvases, too. They’ve found joy in taking mascara and crayons to it, like Van Gogh takes to a masterpiece—with gusto. And, no regret.

The Cleaning

I can name all the places in our house that have been aggressively loved by my kids. Some of them fondly, most of them not. When you’re in charge of the day-to-day cleaning, it’s hard not feel frustrated by these spots. You’re reminded how while you may clean it today… you have no idea what will happen to it tomorrow. There’s always a risk involved. Perhaps this is why I hardly ever mop?

I’ve come to realize that my home is a lot like my heart. There are days where I scrub it clean and prepare it for goals, dreams, and work and for those days where I’ve invited people in—to gather and play. Sometimes, I’m simply enjoying the few seconds where I’m alone and it’s quiet. But truth is, on every one of these days—the walls of my heart will always reflect the same; tiny little hands that have made them theirs.

The Frustration

Honestly, I used to feel frustrated by the marks and the dents and the chaos.  I’d get mad and have to disappear for a while. “This is why we can’t have nice things!” I’d yell in my head. Sometimes, I still do. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, a spilled cup of whatever on my brand new ottoman sends me spinning; and straight to the bathroom crying. It’s actually unlike me. Ask any of my friends, or even better—ask my husband. Messes don’t scare me.

The thing is, it actually has nothing to do with the messes themselves. It’s about the utter takeover, about the lack of space, about having nothing that’s mine anymore. It’s not my house, it’s theirs. And it’s not my heart, it’s theirs.

I could hardly wash them clean of it, now could I? Nor, would I want to.

The Realization

At the moment, my entire staircase wall is lined with squiggles from my son. It’s been a few months, and I still haven’t touched it. Instead of a glare on my conscious, it’s become a trophy of sorts.

It’s come to remind me that this is the season where memories are made. It’s come to remind me that just like homes, our hearts are meant to be lived in. And it’s come to remind me that these are the days that sticky hands matter because like memories, they form sticky hearts.

Always bound together.


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Wife to a bonafide mountain man and mama to two toddlers and a newborn babe, Tabitha doesn't find much margin for boredom. When things get crazy, as they often do — Tabitha fervently writes down what keeps her pressing on. She believes that every messy minute of motherhood is worth the daily fight and will stop at nothing to pursue God through it all. While often quite wordy and long-winded, you can count on Tabitha to be completely transparent and brutally honest when it comes to life and everything else in-between. While she’d rather meet you over a cup of coffee on her front porch to share the lessons she's regularly learning, you can also visit with her over on her blog or Instagram. Her personal blog, Tabitha Panariso, is a space where you can find her writing on faith, motherhood, and daily life. You can also find her capturing the everyday rhythms of life on her Instagram, @tabithapanariso


  1. I remember when my mother totally renovated the house right after my little sister moved out. I remember thinking it was so unfair. Why couldn’t she have a nice house while I was at home. Then I had kids. A little girl who positioned her stuffed animals all over the house. A little boy who colored the wall behind his bunk bed. A teenage boy who couldn’t sit on the sofa…but jumped into it and breaks it. Or teenager who burn hot dogs in the microwave. Now I’m the empty nestor renovating the house knowing that things might last a little longer……..until the grandkids start hanging out that is!

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