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.
I like this and it is so very true…Thank you for sharing.
thank you so much for posting this poem, I heard you share it on a cd the other day and wanted to find it to share with a friend. God’s timing is AWESOME!!!
Thanks so much for sharing this poem. I’ve listened to the cd numerous times and cry every time you read the poem. Maybe it’s because my baby just turned 13 and my oldest is spending time behind the wheel of the car learning to drive. Wet oatmeal kisses used to be my life, but I blinked and now my life consists of car keys and texting BFF’s. I am choosing to embrace this stage of life just as I did when they were younger and thank God that we still have them under our roof!
I heartily agree. This poem gets me every time. Our oldest just turned 40 and this poem reminds me of the times I wish I’d heard it while they were young. Thank God, we played many times too. Now it keeps me focused when the grandchildren are visiting. I KNOW HOW FAST THEY GROW & believe me hand prints on the windows, sand on the floor, whatever… are happy evidence of the good times shared with loved ones.
Yes!!! Enjoy every moment, tuck them into your heart! Write it all down because it blends together soooo quickly and then you blink and it’s college graduations and wonderful weddings!
Thank you, Terri for this post. Even if our children are no longer in their early years (teen and young-adult), this reminds me to continue to focus on the major and not on the minor things of their lives. I’m learning to enjoy more their presence, the conversations we have together and accompany them in their own journey towards adulthood and responsible citizens of society. Thanks to the solid foundation of teachings that we receive from the LIFE TEAM, we are given the proper perspective that helps us along the way. God bless!
On point! It is infinitely easier to clean up the bathtub overflow than to put together a broken heart or dream or life of your child. You’re wise to enjoy the oatmeal kisses when you get them . . .
Thanks Terri. Thanks for taking the time to write, can’t wait for your own book to come out.
Terri, I can so relate to the artistic creations for sale or other creative ventures to sell for some other purpose, lol….( I think they are just Enterprenuers In Training :)) This post brought me from relating – to tears. Thank you for bringing things back into the right perspective! God Bless! ~ Jeanette
I have always loved the wisdom of Erma Bombeck! I did try, without as much success as I wished so hard for, to remember and implement some of her wisdom as my brood of Burch Boys grew to manhood! They did grow up and they all left home. David and I are enjoying being ‘just 2’ again- he more than I at times. I miss sometimes being 5. As I read this today I wept, in the car, on the freeway! (David is driving) A friend’s 18 month old neice made her trip to be with Jesus this week after a 6 month battle with Luekemia and another friend’s 3 year old was diagnosed with Luekemia the same day! It seems Incomprehensible. I am reminded of a Supreme God and an EVERLASTING Father! I I find myself grateful for all the years of chaos and blessed beyond measure that they are all grown and healthy- miracles I assure you!
I am so sorry to hear of the loss for your friend’s family. I will be praying for them as well as the 3-yr-old and family as they begin the battle. God does have an infinite plan, despite our finite sight. I pray they feel His comfort during the trying days ahead. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut 31:6
Thank you so very much Terri! So many tears in so few days- the one who went home is Sophia and the one in the hospital is Emma! Thank you for the prayers and the awesome verse!
You make me want to turn back time…..remembering my children so young and innocent…..but then I recall why God made grandchildren…so we never forget that feelng! Thx for the awesome post on why children are so valuable and precious!
How timely this article is as just the other day I sat with tears flowing down my face at the silence that filled my home. The day prior to this I had taken my oldest to get her drivers permit and that experience caused me to reflect on how fast life is going and how I only have these “angels” for a short period of time. They are on loan to me from God and he has entrusted me with their care, their mess-up and their misguided fears etc all so I can re-frame, show love and give them back to him with interest.
Love you my sista’ and keep on writing because you inspire us to breathe then do more and get better!
This awesome !!!!! I am very grateful for this poem. I have four boys and twins in there. It is an event everyday. Thankyou for making the time to encourage us as women and moms. It is so needed. Thankyou for the perspective.
I love this little story (as well as the other little insights into the Brady household). Somehow, it reminds me of the family whose daughter was carrying a plate of spaghetti, sauce and all, tripped going down the one step into the family room, and left a complete red meal on the family room carpet. As was usual, the whole family uttered gasps except for the one younger sibling who broke out in uncontrollable laughter as he carried HIS plate down that same step, right on the heels of his sister, and, while laughing hysterically, let his plate tip downward, and the second plate of spaghetti landed on top of the first!
Unfortunately, the spaghetti meals did not survive, but fortunately. the carpet, as well as the kids did survive, AND a great, fun, memory was born!
Love you much,