Old chicken nuggets. Dog. The kitchen trash I need to take out. Sweat.
These are the smells that assault me as I walk through the front door of my home. My floral plug-ins don’t seem to be up to the task. Not to be outdone are the glass doors and windows, covered in smudges. Wet dog noses and grimy little hands have left their mark for all the world to see. Sticky floors squeak under my shoes. I see a “Sophia the First” sticker clinging to the entryway tile and watch a fur-ball roll along the baseboards. I really should mop away the small shoe prints that appeared after they jumped in puddles this weekend. Entering the kitchen, my eyes focus on the faded marks of color where paint and markers have bled onto my counter-tops. The cabinets above and below the stove have a layer of cooking film from many “favorite meals” prepared here. Magnetic letters take up most of the space on my fridge, forcing children’s party invitations to pile up my desk.
I round the corner into the living room where I find more dog hair clumped together in dusty corners. I hate the fur, but I can’t imagine life without the dogs around. They are good companions for the family. Maybe getting the puppy didn’t turn out all bad. The couch cushions have been pulled out for the purpose of fort-building, and a wobbly stack of kindergarten readers sits upon the ottoman. The TV is on and Rescue Bots has been paused. String cheese wrappers litter the end table. Brightly colored water bottles have mated and are taking over any available surface area. Toy dinosaurs stand at attention under the smudgy window. It’s a good thing we’ve got such good home security.
I head down the hall towards the bedrooms and wonder what that stain is on the carpet. Do I want to know? I detour into the bathroom and find the counter piled high with my beauty products that do very little to conceal my current lack of sleep (or showering). Someone forgot to flush the toilet and a tiny purple step-stool has just been used to reach the sink. They better have used soap. I glance quickly at the tub and sigh as I realize that the toys from last night’s very-splashy bath lay abandoned. He will step on one while taking his morning shower.
In my bedroom, I notice that the bed was never made. The covers and pillows strewn about are evidence of a sibling pillow fight. They must have sneaked in while I was pouring my second cup of coffee this morning. The framed pictures of chubby babies with those kissable thighs could stand to be dusted. Piles of preschool artwork lay waiting to be filed away for safekeeping. Love notes “To Mom” have been taped to my door in brightly colored construction paper. An unpacked suitcase lays on the floor near the closet. He never unpacks right after a business trip. I roll my eyes at it and grin. Who can unpack when you’re being climbed on and asked for presents?
One quick look into her room tells me that she never did clean up like I asked. Her bin of toy horses has been overturned for closer inspection. That girl has loved horses since before she could speak. No wonder. She has a wildness in her, too. I find the necklace (one of the 50) she is positive she has lost. It was shoved into the top dresser drawer, right under her pull-ups. One day she won’t need these. I don’t plan to rush it. She’s my baby.
His room is tidy. I guess that chore list is coming in handy. His baseball bat leans against the wall. He is so excited for his game tonight. He has his dad’s true-blue love for all things competitive. His Lego table looks like chaos to me. Legos of all shapes, sizes, and color lay waiting for his next stroke of brilliance. He was pretty darn proud of that hovercraft he whipped up on Saturday. The bin of toy trains are out again. I will never understand his fascination with them, but it is part of what I love about him.
I wander out into the dining room and spot the board game we all played together last night after dinner. It was all fun and games until they got into a fight over which color the spinner actually landed on. The game ended for bed-time preparations. I spy a few splatters of soup I didn’t wipe up from the table. I can’t believe I didn’t have to fight him to eat. He’s been so picky lately and sometimes dinner is something to be dreaded around here. Last night was a welcome reprieve.
In the backyard, the sun begins to set. Bikes lay on their sides. Sidewalk chalk is everywhere. It covers the patio and I can make out “Kids Only” scrawled over by the fence. I need to take down that baby swing and pass it on to someone who can use it. How many hours did I spend pushing my own babies in the late afternoon sun as we waited for him to come home from work? Now those same late afternoons are taken up by homework and practices. I blinked and life has changed. I breathe in deeply and prepare myself to go back inside and tidy up. There is always plenty to keep me busy. Then again, maybe I’ll spend just a little more time out here and reflect. I smile. There’s life in that house.