It seems no matter how many times I go through the house, no matter how many times I pick up an errant doll, book, shoe, car, action figure or stuffed animal, no matter how many times I wipe the bathroom sink down, no matter how many times I clean the dishes, it all just needs to be done again and again and again. I adore my kids and am overjoyed that our house is filled with small shoes and clothes and dolls and toy trains and all the other very important things of the moment. But is it too much to ask that they put them away once in a while?
I have always taught my children that they are expected to pick up after themselves and for the most part they do a good job. But they are still kids and kids need to be reminded, all the freaking time, to pick up their clothes, shoes, socks and toys. Usually one reminder is enough but sometimes I end up shouting and threatening to give away any toys that aren't where they should be. I stomp around my house throwing everything into a basket and muttering to myself, "no one does anything...is it so hard to just put it where it belongs...how many times do I have to...if I have to pick this up one more time" I feel all poor poor me and wonder when, if ever, I will have a home that doesn't require 20 minutes of frantic cleaning when someone calls to say they're dropping in.
And that usually reminds me of something my Mom used to say when we were little. It's kind of become a family saying. My poor Mom, she takes so much abuse. Anyways...she too would stomp through the house and her mutterings sounded similar to mine. Although she would add in a few "Jesus, Mary and Joseph"'s to her tirade. When she finally reached her breaking point and had found yet another one of her Hummels broken or an antique colored on she would scream " YOU KIDS RUIN EVERYTHING! I CAN NEVER HAVE ANYTHING NICE IN THIS HOUSE!" And the brats that we were, we continued to break her things and color on her furniture despite her yelling. Now when I go to her house with my kids and I caution them to be careful with Mimi's things and don't touch that and get down off the table, she tells me "it's fine. Let them be" I know she's the grandparent but still, what happened to "I can never have anything nice!" What the heck is going on here?
The other day I was cleaning up my bedroom and I actually pulled stuff out from under the bed and was cleaning under there. I reached under and pulled out a slipper that I'd been looking for...for years. I heard a little jingle and tipped it. Out rolled a small round golden button. I held that little button in my hand and sat on my bed and nearly cried. At one time in Sam's late toddlerhood, he developed a fascination with these buttons. Button balls he called them. I had to have several in my pockets at all times just in case he lost the one he carried everywhere with him. Teresa was only around a year old at the time and if something wasn't tied down, it went into her mouth. So these button balls were a royal pain in my rear. Sam was forever putting them down and just leaving them. And I was forever picking them up or fishing them out of Teresa's mouth. I remember wishing he could just. put. them. on. the. counter...but, he was three...what can you do?
And then...I remember how his chubby little hand clutched the button ball whenever he was nervous. I remember how he would take two and cup them in his hands and gently shake them and the look of pure wonder on his face at the pretty sound he made. I remember when I was upset, he'd trot over and work a precious button ball into my hand and stroke my cheek to make it "ahhh bedda" and it did make me feel all better. I remember finding a button ball on my pillow some nights. A little present to find before bed from my little man. His giving me his precious button ball, even just for the night, such a grand gesture for a little boy and it never failed to make me feel oh so treasured and loved. What I don't remember, is when he stopped loving those button balls. They just dropped to the wayside and I probably picked them up and put them into the button jar one last time not even realizing it was the one last time.
I think I know why my Mom doesn't mind my kids climbing over her furniture and having tea parties with her baleek china. I think she might miss the days of finding the detritus of childhood spilled throughout her home. And even though her days of having a houseful of kids is behind her and I am still in the midst of it...I think I understand. And I'm going to try not to get so riled up about the little things because one day I will look back and miss it. And if I ever need a little reminder, the little golden button ball in my jewelery box should help.