Little Cars Make Me Crazy In Love

Walking into our hall bathroom tonight as I did my last round of mom pick-up throughout the house before calling it a night. Trying to remove the sticky fingerprints on the fridge, recalling the tiny ice cream bandit who had proudly showed us how she managed to scoop herself some frozen creamy chocolatey goodness as was evidenced all over her face, hands, the floor, and oh, did I mention the refrigerator? As I went about my nightly routine, traipsing around the house collecting lone socks, the salt shaker from the art room buried amongst the bucket of crayons, two dice from the Farkle game wedged between the couch cushions, a barbie leg haphazardly tossed alongside a handful of never-ending legos pieces on the kitchen counter, and the floor below, some cheerios strewn here and there, a few stomped on and hidden in the shag area rug, I assume just for good measure. “Oh look,” a wrapper from one of the boys’ forgotten half-eaten hot pockets crumpled in the shoe closet; where is the rest of that petrified nugget of imitation cheese and pepperoni anyway… I felt that usual tired creep over me. An exacerbated sigh of defeat because once again, I had found myself in the never-ending cycle of “mess.” I tried to calmly resign myself to my life as the constant nagging mother of four children, a mother who is certain will never have a clean, sticky-free home ever, ever again. And then I stumbled upon something that stopped me in my tracks and changed my point of view.

As I breezed into the hall bath with my now armload of treasures that needed to be returned to their respective children’s rooms or in many cases, the dirty laundry and/or garbage, I flipped the light switch on to reveal a vivid picture of my life, and it hit me over the head like an actual ton of bricks, or nails, or legos, which actually feel just like nails when stepped on in the dark, or when they are skillfully camouflaged in the shag carpet. There they were, an innocent enough row of little cars, and one spare toy bike wheel. The sight of them sent this warm feeling through my entire body. As I stood there thinking, “Why am I not upset by yet another scene within my home to confirm I cannot get it into these kids’ heads to PICK UP after themselves” a feeling entirely new just swept over me. This warm sensation of radiating love washed over me in waves as I stood there looking around and really seeing my life. I noticed for the first time the detail of those cars, and the little smudgy handprints next to them. “Bean had been playing car wash again,” I thought. And instead of being irritated, all I could think of was how incredibly charming my life is. Just exactly as it is. Messy, sticky, cheerio-laden. I have an actual car wash in my bathroom, who wouldn’t want that?

These small toy cars lined carefully in a row on a counter that I instantly noticed needed a wipe down from the morning’s toothpaste droppings and the smudgy handprints represented every imperfection of my life. My home needs only a single day with the little people who live within to become utterly turned inside out and upside down, and that is probably too generous, it needs an hour, two at most. Shoot, it needs 5 minutes that I slip away to use the restroom or take a shower, to go from decently clean and tidy, or what I refer to as “company ready” to complete and utter disaster. In that moment, as I stared at those brightly colored little metal cars, as a dead giveaway to any random visitor who might so happen to pop by at 9 o’ clock on a Thursday evening that my home, my life, is not perfect. I cannot keep up with the losing battle that is raising children to not act like, well, children. And in that very second something changed in me. Who cares if someone happened by my home right this very moment, randomly needed to use the John, and noticed that, gasp- I have happy, playful, creative children who leave their toys out because they forgot about them, or because they were so proud of the lego house they built, they wanted to be able to come back to it and revel in their accomplishments, or just conveniently accessible to be played with again in the morning. What am I doing with this armload of what represents the imperfections of my never clean enough home, ready to tidy and toss yet again, at another day’s end, as if I can really hide the reality that is my life.

The truth is, my life moves way too fast. It seems like it was just last night that I was scooping up Bug’s little toy cars. And now he’s thirteen and hasn’t played with little cars and imaginary racetracks since I can’t remember when. He rolls his eyes when his little brother comes bounding into his room carrying a Bey Blade arena and eagerly asks him to “battle.” That thought hit me so hard it nearly buckled me to my knees right there on that bathroom floor. (Which could definitely use a good sweeping.)

I instantly wanted to reverse time. I wanted to undo all the nights I’ve spent harping on my innocent, curious, creative children and instead celebrate every silly inconsequential mess they have ever made while enjoying their life in my home, no, in our home. I had, right there in that streaked bathroom mirror a moment of clarity. My children, despite my best efforts, have not lost their innate ability to enjoy the pure thrill of play. They have not yet lost their complete un-awareness to impress the outside world by pretending that they are different than who they are inside the comfort and safety of their own home when nobody is looking in.

Sure they still need to learn to clean up after themselves, and I am convinced they will, and for the older ones, they [for the most part] already have. But it dawned on me as I saw my frazzled reflection against the vibrant little cars gleaming up at me in my not so clean hall bathroom, that my children have seen their mother put more emphasis on keeping a “company ready” life inside these walls than a “kid already” one.

I am so blessed to raise four of the most imaginative, thoughtful, happy children I know. Who cares if my home reflects that? I guess the answer is, I do. I am crazy in love with these four perfectly unique humans who shouldn’t have to think about anything but living comfortably, and of course respectfully inside our home. This is a safe place for them to be themselves. It’s the place I hope for them to learn about who they are and become that incredible person, with support, not constant condemnation. Children learn through play. Play is messy, so is life. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. And I want my children to learn from me most of all, that it is OK for life to be messy.

No more trying to hide the joy that is happening here. Come see my home for what it is; full of love. I accept that my home may not look “picture perfect” for many, many more years, if ever. And truthfully, when and if that day finally comes, I may just break down and cry. Perhaps I should start now- stuffing away every loose lego, broken barbie, baggie of cheerios, half-completed glitter painting, and sticky peanut butter smeared stuffed animal I find, so I can pull them out someday well into the future, when my house is finally quite, tidy, and always “company ready.” Because surely it will be then that I’ll long for the company of those little voices and sticky hands; just to remind me of the very best days of my life.