There is a half-eaten baby biscuit on my nightstand. Used bottles decorate all the counter tops and pacifiers grace the end tables. In the kitchen, all the sharp and breakable things have been moved to upper cabinets and the doors to my cleaning supplies have been locked shut. There is a wooden train on my coffee table, handprints on the windows and a small pink toilet seat in my company bathroom. And, toys are everywhere. Like, seriously everywhere.
And, it all makes my heart happy.
WAIT! Before you throw things at me and slam your computer shut, let me explain.
I’m old. My days of rearing young children have long been over. Instead, the grandkids have been visiting for the weekend and all these reminders of their visit bring me great joy.
But, I do remember.
I remember the days when all of those things used to drive me crazy. I remember when trying to keep my house even remotely clean seemed like a lost cause. I resented all my hard work being destroyed thirty seconds after I had finished it. I used to ask my husband, “How would you feel if you worked hard on a work project and then tiny people came in and destroyed it, over and over again, every single day!?” He would just listen quietly and look at me with sympathetic eyes. Smart man.
Because, there really wasn’t a solution for the frustration I felt. Kids are kids. Mine weren’t destructive, they were just normal mess-makers. And, that’s what kids do.
But, boy did I resent it at times. I resented the never-ending nature of tidying a house that never stayed clean for more than a few minutes at a time. I resented not being able to decorate the way I wanted to instead of the way childproofing made necessary. I resented my stuff getting dirty and sticky and broken. And, sometimes I resented the tiny people who created the messes in my home.
I craved peace and calm and cleanliness. But, I didn’t get much of that in those days and it drove me more than a little crazy. I wanted to push a pause button and just take a moment to breathe, to clean the house and have it stay that way, to soak in some quiet, to be me again and not a housekeeper, child-rearer, fight referee, etc.…
Many years have passed since those days and I haven’t had kids in my house full-time for eons. I have had some of that calm, cleanliness and peace I so craved. And, I have enjoyed it. I still enjoy it. And, that’s what allows me to embrace the messes my grandkids create, because I now have the time and the freedom to look at it all through different eyes.
The pacifiers next to my bed remind me of naps shared with tiny bodies nestled next to mine (in the old days I just wanted a little personal space of my own!). The dirty bottles bring to mind little faces looking at me with love and trust while they drink their milk (I used to be frustrated with how slow they drank while I looked around at everything that needed my attention). And, the toys scattered about bring a smile to my face (instead of my old frustration) as I remember the imaginative games they created while I sat and watched.
But, no advice. I’ll not tell you to embrace your messes because I really do remember those days. Perhaps, this is just an old lady telling you that there will come a day when you will have time. Time to clean and decorate the way you want to. And, it will be lovely and you will enjoy yourself. But, you will also have time to be a little lonely and actually crave some little ones running around making messes in your home.
And, if you’re blessed with grandchildren, you will have the best of both worlds: time for yourself and time to really drink in the joy when children visit. And, as you look at all the little messes they left behind, you will think back on those crazy days of childrearing. And, you will smile.
Read more of Ann’s contributions to allmomdoes here.