This summer has been especially stressful for me. My husband has been offshore since 2 weeks after school let out and by the time he makes it home, I will have had a house full of children (my five and 3+ more neighborhood kids at any given time) and it’s been chaotic at best. I’ve been to the point where I wanted to ban EVERYBODY from my personal kingdom that encompasses a 5-foot radius surrounding my body. I’ve been tempted to threaten anyone whose presence, voice, or even BREATH permeated its invisible barriers.
I’ve had to tell them one too many time to do their chores. Very simple expectations. Put the dishes in the dishwasher. Sweep/mop the floor. Feed the dog. Take out the trash. Wipe the tables and counters down. Pick up random debris scattered everywhere. Make the beds. Put the clothes away. And all of this is divided between four very able bodied children… plus one seemingly not-so-able-bodied child who some days does more than her four older siblings combined.
Tonight I started thinking about all the projects I’ve gotten behind on… I started looking around at the papers lying on the floor, the soiled towel still sitting by the back door from when they exited the pool, the small spot of liquid on the ottoman that I just know I told someone to wipe off like 3 hours ago, and the little handprints on the screen of my television which I tell them every… thirty… seconds… not to put their hands on and I realized that I wouldn’t know what to do with a different kind of life.
I have my days where life wears me out and for a few minutes I think it would be better to have kids who are different in some way — kids who listened better or minded better or got along with one another better. Perhaps kids who would collect their crap out of my truck before going in the house or who would simply bend over to pick up a wrapper off of the front lawn… kids who would show their appreciation a little more or respond to my “I love yous” with something other than “okay” or “for sure” because it sort of sucks when someone doesn’t show reciprocity in that way.
But in the peaceful moments that I find myself sitting in the quiet, scanning their faces in the thousands of photos I’ve taken of them over the years it’s difficult to imagine them not being them just the way they have grown to be. And while it would be nice to be more openly appreciated (or just habitually obeyed lol) I am grateful that my children are secure in their life — secure enough to know that they are loved, comfortable enough to know that love is unconditional, and confident enough in that security to feel okay about the fact that they aren’t perfect while understanding that their imperfections could never jeopardize the importance of their presence in our life.
Would I trade my chaotic life for another one? Never. The stuff I step over to make it to the kitchen and the random markings on the wall represent my happy family… and although I will never give up my fight for a mess-free (or marker-free) house, that fight will never overshadow the importance of the stability, security, love, peace, and FAMILY that exists within its walls because a state of spotless-ness is something I can have at any point in my life but I will only experience each day of my kids’ childhoods once and from this point forward I will do my best to make it a point to embrace each moment I have with them — appreciating them, loving them, and making sure they know they are valuable, important, and just perfect the way they are because truth be told, I could never survive the emptiness of a childless home and I wouldn’t have this life of mine any other way.