The Joy of Chaos…

While I tend to run my cattle feed yard with an incredible degree of particularity, my house can only be described as a place of joyful chaos. I gave up the need for carefully construed order sometime around the birth of my third daughter. It likely was a survival mechanism as I began to recognize the importance of retaining my sanity.

I traded order for laughter — the need to control for faith…

Although ten years ago I might have claimed that letting go was against my very nature, I actually think that it has improved my parenting prowess by inspiring my older daughters to achieve a greater degree of responsibility. I believe that the duo secretly enjoys attempting to keep the household running and, between the five of us, the daily chores always seem to get completed.

Every once in a while, we are thrown off kilter and the tenuous balance temporarily disappears. When this occurs, I do my best to laugh as I improvise and call on faith to carry us through. Friday was one of those days…

They seem to be cut from the same cloth...

They seem to be cut from the same cloth…

Early afternoon, my favorite farmer loaded up the vehicle with suitcases and our family set off for a trip to Florida. This past week has been more chaotic than normal, so each family member was charged with packing their own luggage for the trip and placing their suitcases in a predetermined location by the door.

As we pulled off of Interstate 80 (approaching the airport and about 100 miles from home), we realized that my youngest daughter’s suitcase was still buried on the end of her bed. (Anyone that has seen Karyn’s bed will understand that it is possible to lose a small mountain in the menagerie of stuffed animals that sleep there…) While she had followed directions and packed a suitcase, she failed to place it with the other luggage as she left for school that morning. It never occurred to my favorite farmer that the pile of luggage in the hallway was one bag short!


The car got really quiet as it dawned on all of us that Karyn had no clothes for the long weekend trip. I quickly burst into laughter because it seemed to be the best available option of cutting the tension that permeated the car. It didn’t take long for Megan to join in my hilarity, and Ashley Grace to begin her typical litany of humorous sarcastic remarks—soon everyone but Karyn was smiling.

Exercising my savvy problem solving skills I pulled quickly into the Grand Island mall and bought Karyn some emergency clothes. We were back in the car within 10 minutes, and headed once again for the airport. We arrived just as the check-in desk was closing, and boarded the flight a few minutes later.

Laughter is good for the soul. Learning to let go and give it to God is a tremendous survival mechanism. What could have been a tensioned filled crisis became a source of humor that set the tone for a great family adventure.


I cannot recall exactly what day I made the choice as a mother to embrace the joy of chaos, but it has enabled me to trade tension for laughter — shifting my focus to the blessings that come from the gift of a family.

What is your survival mechanism?


Filed under Family, General

13 responses to “The Joy of Chaos…

  1. Teddi Vogel

    We too are a farm/feedlot family. I went from a career to stay at home mom of a wild red headed little boy and now two blonde, blue eyed twin girls, all under 3! I have never claimed to be a great house keeper, but even I had to learn to let things go and laugh! Messes make memories, in the case of my little man, we have LOTS of memories! I love your blog, thank you for speaking up and educating. More of us in agriculture need to follow your lead and speak up for ag!

    • “Messes make memories” — I love that! There is so much joy in having a family, and I laugh to my husband that we are “a good type of busy” 🙂

      Thank you for reading and sharing. I enjoy hearing from readers and appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to comment. Good luck with your little ones. I am sure that they will keep you hopping for many years to come!


  2. Wendy Habesku

    Thanks Ann! That is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I was not expecting there to be so much more chaos with the third (and she’s not even 2 yet)!

    • Great to hear from you Wendy! And, I am so glad to hear that my words could be helpful. Yes, the third child brings a significant change as the parents are suddenly outnumbered. You can’t go “one on one” anymore and have to adjust to “a zone” in the game of parenting.

      Don’t sweat the small stuff — it will all work out. Focus on the joy and the frustrations will *mostly* melt away. It isn’t humanly possible to run a perfect house, so run a happy house instead. This was a tough lesson for me to learn, but it is an important one…

      Take care. It is great to hear from you. We’ve all come a long way from the pool deck 🙂


  3. Bobbi

    Thanks Anne for reminding me that I am not the only farm wife out there that is always on the verge of total craziness and chaos. Somedays it feels like I run a three ring circus and the clowns are out of control!! I too have a very hard time letting go and this past winter broke down and hired a lady to help me clean my house. It has been a hard pill to swallow, realizing that I can not do everything myself even something as simple as running the vacume or scrubbing a toilet. takes

    • We’d all love to be able to single handedly “do it all”, but it is best to reach out for help. A three ring circus can be fun as long as the basic rules are followed…and there is some sort of “help” managing the clowns 🙂

      I gave up being in charge of cleaning my house many years ago and have never looked back. It doesn’t make you less of a person, it just makes you a sane one as you try to juggle a family and a career.

      When your little boy grows up he won’t remember the cleaning lady, but rather he will remember the time that you all spend as a family—that’s what is really important.


  4. My coping tool is prayer and BAKING 😉 I bake, cook, or clean when things get to me and when I am doing that my mood gets better and perspective changes so it helps. When I am away form home the prayer comes more in handy and my hubby is the laughter guy when I am down he does his best to be silly and make me laugh 😉

    • We love to bake at our house too (much more than cleaning up the kitchen after we get done)! I also find that a quiet prayer or period of reflection is a great way to center myself when I feel my personal balance slipping.

      I find it really interesting how couples learn how to provide support when it is needed. One of the reasons that I burst out laughing when we figured out that Karyn had left her suitcase at home was because I could tell that Matt was about to loose his cool. It was just the right thing to do because it brought a smile to his face and let him accept that blame was not placed on his shoulders.

      I am glad that your hubby does “silly” to make to laugh — we all do a lot of that at our house. Such a great quality in a family member 🙂

      Take care,

  5. I love your term “joyful chaos”. Before any situation I always try to breath, smile and then react. In fact just the other week I blogged about it: Hope you had a great trip, new clothes and all!

    • I agree that breathing is always good, Valerie! It looks like your kids had fun with the ink pen 🙂

      Thanks for sharing and commenting. I appreciate hearing from you!


  6. I bet she never forgets her suitcase again! : ) And it will probably be one of your family’s favorite memories.!

    • I can only hope that she learned her lesson! She is by far my most “unorganized” child and I have to admit that she drives me a bit crazy at times… 🙂

      Yes, we are having fun with the memory and teasing her about it—-

      Take care,

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