Monday, August 8, 2011

things they leave

i wasn't gone long, maybe and hour or so at most. but it doesn't take much these days. when i walked back into my summertime home i was astounded by the crime scene playing out in my kitchen.  speechless at the plates and bowls and cereal and syrup and silverware scattered across every kitchen surface;  like it had been the goal.  like it had been a competition in chaos - and we won.  i felt the burn begin to rise. from pit of stomach to forehead it seared upward - hot and heavy.  i flung my bag on desk chair and swept into the mess, sweating out my dangerous mother-thoughts.  words already spewing from that bleak place of parental-indignation.  that ugly gut feeling of fed-up.  who do these children think they are?  what do these children think i am?  all the while looking for someone, anyone, even the dog, to unfurl my coil of displeasure upon.  for, be assured,  i had plans to unfurl.  words quickly formed, poised and ready. it took nothing but this ghastly entrance after only an hour's absence.

i bet you might recognize this scene.   possibly it has happened even in your own home.  maybe it happens daily. or maybe it belongs to my household alone. (sigh). but summertime children leave trails.  lots of trails.  and sometimes these trails can erupt into paths of mass destruction.  nothing spared.  nothing left unscathed by their july-day dalliances.  breakfast begins with my morning coffee at six and seems to continue through the noon hour.  children come from different corners of our home with mussed hair and peeling noses and squinty eyes. they come stumbling in, one by one, looking for pancakes or muffins or the day's plan.  these same children who left popcorn bowls from last night's movie piled high in the sink.  these same children who leave flipflops and footprints from front door to back.  these summer-full children who live out loud under the hot roof of our home.  they come.

and throughout the day they blaze little trails.  bread crumb paths strewn with their summer stuff. the littlest girl leaves evidence of baby dolls and trinkets and teacups. she tracks in sand and trails fruit snacks from room to room.  her brothers bring boy things.  car parts and wrenches and batteries and mud.  much of what i find them leaving makes me wonder.  especially the oldest, he is the boy who always has something strange in his hands or pockets.  i have learned to check his clothing carefully before adding any of it to the family laundry load.  there is a plastic container on my laundry room sink for his items alone.  fishing lures and string and skipping stones and pocket knives.  i keep telling myself to photograph it for someday, this plastic container holding clues to my son, will be gone.  he will have traded them all in for grown up things like receipts, keys and dollar bills.

then there are these two older girls sharing our cluttered space.  actually sharing everything under the sun -  at least everything in their mother's bathroom drawers and closet.  these two young ladies have become pros at sharing my things with themselves.  in they come, leaving their telltale-trails, and out they go taking hair products and jewelry and clothing.  just last week i went looking for tweezers.  i was smack in the middle of an eyebrow emergency - no one had bothered to inform me i was so overdue.  it took the light of day and a glance in my rearview mirror to make me horrifically aware.  and so i found myself desperately scrounging around in my bathroom drawer - frantic woman with frightening eyebrows and tweezers nowhere to be found.  gone. i headed straight for the 15 year old's room.  mad mother on a mission.  of course the tweezers were sitting on her sink along with my new bottle of nail polish and a favorite ring.

these girls, like their brothers, are also quite gifted in their leavings.  leaving bits and pieces of themselves in each room:  beads and yarn and earrings and lipgloss.  they deposit paint brushes and purses and ipods in strange places. ballet flats under tables and fashion magazines on the sofa.  i sometimes gather these items in my arms and consider hiding the whole mess - the whole kit and kaboodle, hiding it all.  slowly removing the things i find scattered, one by one, until our home is nothing more than brick and mortar.  not saying one more word about the mess, just quietly removing the pieces and parts of our lives which are delinquently left.  though the thought is tempting, and even entertaining, i have come to realize i would need to purchase costly (and large) storage space for this teaching moment to take place.  and so instead, i call them to the items and point and show and explain (again) the importance of caring for our things. and i bite my sharp tongue and attempt not to over-lecture something so small.

because these girls, like their brothers, will someday be gone.  they will leave.  my tweezers will remain in my bathroom drawer and the kitchen counters will be eternally and impossibly clean.  footprints and fingerprints will be missing from my hardwood floors and glass deck doors and my washing machine will only offer up an occasional coin or two.   things will be calm.  the driveway will be empty and order will be restored. and i know, even now, i will miss these things which they leave - evidence of them.

"there is a time for everything, and a season for 
every activity under heaven..."  ~ ecclesiastes 3:1


Simply LKJ said...

I am already at the part of missing it, with Elie finishing her senior year of college and Katie now starting hers. When my brand new hairdryer went missing the other day, unlike before when I'd have to hunt two of them down...there was only one left to blame! LOL Hope you enjoy your last days of summer break.

Aus said...

Good morning Jody - OH YOU ARE SO BACK!!!! Glad to see you!

We've walked that road - three kids at 22 and older....and we're walking it again with three kids 9 and younger....

And it's a happy trail. I've had all those same thoughts "If you can get it to the sink is the last two feet to the dishwasher too far?" "I've already got one broken ankle - are you trying to match the pair with these shoes?" those sound familiar? ;)

And yeah - maybe a tiny part of our adoptions revolved around us WANTING that chaos. We heard from many "You've done your part and raised your kids - it's time for you to relax". But I'm not old - and I'll rest when I'm dead - in the meantime I intend to LIVE!

Great joy for you - relish the mess!

hugs - aus and co.