Tuesday (coincidentally the day after I had written you regarding the underwear fire), I left three children for a few hours in the morning, while I went to a friend who was dealing with news of the unexpected loss of her father.
When I returned, a Brady crime scene was underway. Water was pouring out of the light canister in the ceiling of the first floor. I walked past to find the two male culprits adorned with wet hair and towels, full of “sorry’s” as they explained disagreeing versions of how the splashing out of the 2nd floor bath tub had caused the problem.
Walking toward the stairs to go examine the jacuzzi tub access, I glanced at my Christmas nativity scene in the front foyer and noticed socks. Ever since the decorations went up this year, this particular nativity scene has had Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and a pair of socks, a lollipop, a jack ball, half of a cookie, a piece of cheese, or whatever else had been in the child’s hand when he walked by and set it there. Tuesday, it was socks…again.
Walking down the second floor hall to get to my room where the water war had begun, I had to complete the obstacle course of a “store,” with signs bearing, “ART FOR SALE!” as my 8-year-old hustled next to me, telling me all about how she was saving to buy a goldfish now (maybe I should have waited on the puppy?) and would I PLEASE buy her art this time?
Thoughts spun in my head, whirling from the shock of the early phone call’s bad news, to the extent of water damage at the light, to “How could this much mess be created in such a short time?” (a common question in my head) Yet the thoughts of “When will my house ever stay clean?!” were not completed before I remembered my favorite poem which fantastically reframes my thinking every time:
I found it originally with that famous author, “unknown”, in Erma Bombeck’s book, Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession, although I see many editions online give credit to Bombeck herself.
Wet Oatmeal Kisses
One of these days you’ll explode and shout to all the kids, “Why don’t you just grow up and act your age!” And they will…
Or, “You guys get outside and find something to do — without hurting each other And don’t slam the door!” And they don’t.
You’ll straighten their bedrooms until it’s all neat and tidy, toys displayed on the shelf, hangers in the closet, animals caged. You’ll yell, “Now I want it to stay this way!” And it will…
You will prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t had all the olives picked out and a cake with no finger traces in the icing and you’ll say, “Now this is a meal for company.” And you will eat it alone…
You’ll yell, “I want complete privacy on the phone. No screaming, Do you hear me?” And no one will answer.
No more plastic tablecloths stained. No more dandelion bouquets. No more iron-on patches. No more wet, knotted shoelaces, muddy boots or rubber bands for ponytails.
Imagine…. a lipstick with a point, no babysitters for New Years Eve, washing clothes only once a week, no PTA meetings or silly school plays where your child is a tree, no car pools, blaring stereos or forgotten lunch money.
No more Christmas presents made of library paste and toothpicks, no wet oatmeal kisses, no more tooth fairy, no more giggles in the dark, scraped knees to kiss or sticky fingers to clean.
Only a voice asking, “Why don’t you grow up?” And the silence echoes: “I did”.
May your day be filled with more wet oatmeal kisses than wet light fixtures, and proper perspective when both occur.