The flour trails from the kitchen down the basement stairs and back up again. There are tracks through the dining room, living room and into the front hall. There, in a golden coloured paste is the mixture of kitchen staples that once, so light and powdery, is now firmly glued together with my toddler’s special yellow liquid (pee juice).
Back to the kitchen, the chaos continues. All of the flour, sugars (white, brown and icing), some salt, pepper and probably a half dozen eggs are mixed carefully together on the kitchen floor. The spatulas are lying neatly beside the pile, well not really a pile, more like a map of the world that stretches across the entirety of the kitchen.
If you are not laughing by now, you are crying.
My children were two, three and six. I needed a shower. Not a long shower but I definitely needed a shower. Just five minutes under the water, run a brush through my hair and then we would be off to swimming lessons. When (insert very dramatic theme music like Jaws) I came down the stairs to the gift.
The children thought that they could contribute to the lunch effort while I was in the shower. As I looked tentatively around our home I was so overwhelmed by not only what I saw, but what I could only imagine I would see next, that I had some serious decision making to do.
A) blow my stack. I mean totally lose it. Don’t those children know better than this? How much will it cost to replace all of these kitchen supplies.
B) sit down on the floor and cry. Enough said.
C) gather the children and close the door behind me. Head off to swimming lessons, collect my emotions, decide how to tell my husband, and still come home with the same three children (breathing and everything).
By God’s grace alone, I chose C. In the car on the way to lessons, I quietly questioned the children on what had transpired while Mummy was in the shower. Well, the answers came back slowly. I think that the children were not sure why Mummy wasn’t breathing fire. They had wanted to make a meal for us. Mummy used all of those things and mixed them together with liquid (note to our dinner guests: I never use toddler pee). They were trying to help. They wanted to love me.
Ok – I can live with this. We can eat Kraft Dinner until next grocery day (It was only 49 cents a box back then). My husband will understand.
What ended up happening was a friend at the pool, after I had shared the story, offered to take my three wonderful children for the afternoon so that I could tackle the mess before my husband got home for supper. What a gift.
I got back to the house around 12:30 and cleaned and cleaned. Anyone who has done paper maiche remembers that flour mixed with liquid creates paste. FYI – Paste tracked across hardwood creates plaster.
Each hour passed and minute by minute the mess was cleaned up – but it was not erased. That mess has left a lasting impression on my heart. I like a clean house. I grew up in a clean house. I feel like my house is a reflection of me. BUT: there are things in my house that are of far more value than tidyness.
Right now, our family room is strewn with Lego. My eldest daughter is working on a satchel and there are fabric and pattern pieces out. The mudroom is an adventure of my husband’s tools, my son’s socks and jars of preserves and grocery overflow. All of these messes represent the heart of this household…our family.
Once, I read a book about a lady who was really struggling with the mess in her home. The Lord spoke to her heart about her attitude and she said that after that she made a point of being thankful for the healthy children who were able to ride their bikes (even if they did leave them in the driveway). She was thankful for her wonderful husband (even if he left his smelly work socks on the floor next to his chair in the living room). She was thankful for the dirty pots, pans and dishes in her kitchen because her family was well fed and provided for abundantly.
Are you seeing the picture? It is all about attitude.
We have to teach our children the value of taking care of what we have – that’s just good stewardship. But in the process, we need to remember that they are so much more important than any “thing” or “mess” they might leave behind.
Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.