Have you been there? Have you walked through your home in utter defeat surveying all of the messes and chaos? They’re familiar messes, tasks you have tackled day in and day out. You’ve already put away those shoes. You’ve already taken the monster trucks out from every corner of your kitchen. And you are certain you have already cleaned off the dining room table today. Yet there they are. The heaps of shoes right next to the shoe bin. The monster trucks hidden under the edges of the kitchen cabinets. Or the globs of jello on the dining room table that have now been replaced by spots of ketchup. Don’t fret, I have something to tell you. I’ve deduced the meaning of some of those messes. If you haven’t figured this out, allow me to hopefully provide you with some insight.
My sons has lots of toys with wheels. Heaps of them. Trains. Tractors. Cars. Motorcycles. More cars. He has lots of things that are meant to go fast. They are by far his favorite type of toy. And almost everyday they work their way into the kitchen and throughout the house, but most specifically the kitchen. His toys and toy bins are in the living room. The t.v. is in the living room. All of what I consider to be his “main priorities” are in the living room. Or so I thought. I have never understood HOW these toys make their way into our kitchen until it occurred to me last night. While I was making dinner I noticed that my son was running back and forth between the living room and the kitchen. And along the way bringing in lots of toys. “WHY?!?!” I thought, “I just emptied this room of everything that has wheels.” Then I had another realization. The entire time he was running back and forth he was jabbering happily. He was pleased to be moving toys back and forth. And once he was satisfied of the number of wheeled- thingies he’d successfully transported into the kitchen he sat down, and started playing with them on the back stairs. He would line them up, talk to them and knock them down a step or two. And every few minutes he would stop playing, look at me, smile and say “HI MOMMY!!” and then he would resume playing.
Three things follow me around constantly: children, doggies and messes. The first two I have always kind of accepted and understood why for. The third had always baffled me. “I JUST CLEANED EVERYTHING!!!” I’d inwardly shout, “I just came from the room, how did it fall to pieces again???” Then last night, my eyes were opened. Opened to an act of love and grace that my two year old provides me with on a regular basis: He goes where I go. He loves me. He follows me from room to room emphatically throughout the day. Not every time I leave the room but almost every time. If I start cleaning the bathroom or am giving Clara a bath he comes in just to talk and “check on us.” This may also require a monster truck or a choo-choo train. If I start cooking dinner, he brings his race cars and sits on the back stairs all while keeping an eye on me. Or if I’m folding laundry in one of the bedrooms, he tags along with me upstairs to bounce on the bed or read books.
And every time he does this, he makes or brings a brand new mess.
He brings his activity to me. He longs to be near me. He pursues me. He likes me. Dare I say he down right loves me. He carries his favorite toys along with him or simply finds the means to occupy himself wherever I’m situated so that he can be near me. I was simply in awe last night, wondering how long I hadn’t been noticing this for? And WHY hadn’t I noticed it? Pangs of guilt washed over me. Guilty for how often and easily I let a to-do list dictate my afternoon. Or how lost in the menial things I can get. I figured he would want to be in the living room, surely that is where all of the good stuff is. Everything he needs to entertain himself. We forget as mother’s that they don’t just need toys or for that matter good eats and a warm bath. We’re the “goods,” and we are what they need first and foremost.
For how much I love my children I sometimes don’t mind being in my own space. There is nothing wrong with that: Read me parents, mommy’s, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR OWN SPACE. Be it on the opposite end of the downstairs cooking or with the bathroom door closed scrubbing away or trying to even, you know, use the bathroom with in privacy. Other times when doing so…I feel a bit disconnected from everyone. This is mainly because of the layout of our home being as how it’s older. Everything doesn’t open onto everything else. So I do actually like company most of the time when I’m cooking or tackling a chore. Has my son already figured this out? Jerry brings all of his fun stuff in to share with me and his joyful spirit to talk and play. He hugs me while I cook. He greets me while I clean. During cartoon breaks he runs out to check on me no matter where I am. He has already taken up his daddy’s mantle and likes to look after mommy. How I grieve having missed these opportune moments to “just be” with my sweet little man. He’ll be 3 in just over two months. He is growing. His interests will change and he will gain a new independence or desire to be on his own.
Does this click for you, too? Do you find yourself recalling all of the times you have nearly tripped and broken your neck on a toy while cursing the day you bought it for your child?? Now you realize… that it might be there because it was carried by little hands who love their mommy? Does it make you appreciate the seemingly random piles of Lego’s all over your house? Even when they’re asleep or they’re napping, their trail of proverbial bread crumbs are everywhere. Signaling where they have been. That there is life in your home. There is activity and hustle and bustle. Beautiful hustle and bustle. It IS beautiful. It is sometimes disheartening to clean up after, sure. But it is necessary and sometimes very telling of the priorities our kids have. Yes, they have priorities, favorites and loves in the lives. And being as how you who are reading this are most likely mommy, you can count yourself at the tippy top of their list.
Do not feel regret, I’m just as guilty as you are and I can guarantee you that most mother’s are.When you’re overwhelmed by everything that you must accomplish during the day or when you’re hurrying your littles off to nap time or rushing through lunch remember that YOU are their favorite. They need YOU most of all, more than anything. The joys that you provide them, the nurturing and attention that you give and the love that you share with them are and will be for the rest of their lives at the crux of who they are. What they envision and get out of life and more importantly what they will give and share in life with those around them. They are watching, they are learning. Thankfully, even when we fall short, they show us grace and they show us the way. It is true, sometimes a little child shall lead us. I know that mine do.
The next time you long for peace and quiet or simplicity, pause, take a breath and snatch up your little one or one of your little ones. Snuggle. Kiss. Play. Get down on their level. Pursue THEM for a change. Let the distractions that you have going on fade and rejoice in getting distracted by your little ones.