Why can’t my children pick up after themselves?
Seriously. I can spend half a day picking up this place and ten minutes later my living room floor is covered with papers, doll clothes, toy horses and a tumbling mat. Plus two children flipping cartwheels between the sofas.
When was the last time I actually glimpsed the surface of my kitchen table without having to scold a short person to clear it off for the love of washable markers and Happy Meal prizes???
I know. You’re going to tell me some wise solution to this problem that you’ve discovered from a parenting book or your grandma or hard-won experience. And it works for you, that’s great!
It will not work for me.
Because I’ve tried it.
I’ve tried it all.
And I’m telling you, if I step on one more Matchbox car left stranded in my path, I will grab every Beanie Boo and Barbie and American Girl in this house and pull their big-eyed heads off with my teeth.
Okay, not the American Girls. Those I’ll sell on eBay.
I mean, come ON, mom friends. Aren’t you tired of the mess? The constant toys and clutter and children who drag their little behinds when I bark at them to PICK UP THIS ROOM NOW or else your mother will dive out the window and run down the street screaming for somebody—ANYBODY—to TAKE ME AWAY FROM HEEEEEERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anytime I start to feel this way (which is more often than I care to confess), I eventually remember that what I really need is not a change in my environment or my parenting strategy so much as a change of perspective.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Earlier this fall, when I was moping about sending my baby off to kindergarten, my friend Kim sent me some sobering words of solidarity. Here is an excerpt from her e-mail:
I spent time on and time off again yesterday letting the tears roll down my face. Today is the day. Today, we pack the car up in preparation for tomorrow’s drive to Missouri, and let my baby go. I remember leaving her at the line in the kindergarten class like it was yesterday, and now we will leave her at the dorms on her college campus.
How on earth did we get here? How did it go so fast, and is God sure that the time to release her is now? Can’t I have a few more years? Can’t I do more to prepare her, can’t I be allowed a little more time to teach the lessons so I know that they’ve stuck, be the mom who is asked advice, have time to sip another cup of coffee at Starbucks with her? Will you watch her, God, every moment she’s on campus? Will you protect her? Will you assure me that all is well?
I understand and remember how I thought my heart was going to snap in pieces when I let that last one go to kindergarten. Praise God for the next 13 years that you get to drop her at the door and return hours later to pick her up. And then one day you’ll drop her at the door, and your “see ya later” will have giant gaps of weeks and months between them, rather than hours.
Enjoy your babies. I stand beside you in all the joys of motherhood. Truly, THE BEST job I’ve ever had.
These toy disasters won’t last forever, moms. Because we don’t get to keep our children close forever. We get 18 years to tuck them in at night and to trip over their junk in the hallway. And when it’s gone, so are they.
Then we just might miss the mess.
Why are we wasting today griping about the accouterments of our kids’ lives? The toys, the crafts, the sports gear and shoes in random places. These are the accessories of childhood. And childhood is a gift to be treasured.
I want to accept the mess as a sign that my children are here with me—that God gave me another day to enjoy these beautiful girls, to raise them, to pour into them, and to love them face to face.
This seems like a good moment to share my favorite mom post of all time—from my favorite mom writer, whose wisdom existed long before blogs or podcasts or Instagram memes. It’s the timeless classic, “Wet Oatmeal Kisses,” by Erma Bombeck.
Wet Oatmeal Kisses
One of these days, you’ll shout, “Why don’t you kids grow up and act your age!” And they will. Or, “You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do . . . and don’t slam the door!” And they won’t.
You’ll straighten up the boys’ bedroom neat and tidy: bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you’ll say out loud, “Now I want it to stay this way.” And it will.
You’ll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you’ll say, “Now, there’s a meal for company.” And you’ll eat it alone.
You’ll say, “I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?” And you’ll have it.
No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti. No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms. No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps. No more clothespins under the sofa. No more playpens to arrange a room around.
No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent. No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathroom. No more iron-on patches, rubber bands for ponytails, tight boots or wet knotted shoestrings.
Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No babysitter for New Year’s Eve. Washing only once a week. Seeing a steak that isn’t ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.
No PTA meetings. No carpools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11 o’clock at night. Having your own roll of Scotch tape.
Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste. No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark. No knees to heal, no responsibility.
Only a voice crying, “Why don’t you grow up?” and the silence echoing, “I did.”
* * * * * * * * *
And now for Week 2 of The SuperMom Myth Share Giveaway!
Last week I announced TheSuperMomMyth.com, a new webpage featuring all the news you need to know about my upcoming book, including trailer videos, pre-order bonus gifts, and clicks to purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Anybody who shared the news was eligible to win a $50 Target gift card. Congratulations to Heather Marzullo Ott, our Week 1 winner! But that was just the beginning!
Each week leading up to the book release date (December 1), I will be featuring a fresh prize for sharing The SuperMom Myth on social media, e-mail, and more. So keep on spreading the news, my friends! The more women who hear about this book, the more momma hearts we can tune to Jesus. All praise and glory to God.
This week I’m happy to be giving away a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble! Three of my favorite things in life: reading, music, and gifts for my children. And Barnes & Noble has them all. Can you spell H-A-P-P-Y P-L-A-C-E?
Remember, you can share on Facebook, Twitter and e-mail once per day to rack up more entries. Thank you for shouting the news! I hope you win!