My grandbabies were visiting a few weekends ago, all three of them, one toddler and two infants. I love them.
The house was a mess, we couldn’t keep up with the dishes, the laundry room was the busiest room in the house, the noise, mess, chaos, crying, sleeplessness, and total exhaustion was worth every single minute of it. Because there was also endless laughter, playing, singing, dancing, eating, reading, and countless hugs and kisses. It was a whirlwind over too soon, gone too fast, on Monday morning we woke up and they all left….
Then the house was quiet.
I picked up all the toys, ran the last load of laundry and filled the dishwasher one last time. The house looked organized and tidy. I sat down on my couch for the first time in three days and I looked around and couldn’t help but cry. I missed them, even with all the chaos that little toddlers and infants bring with them. Later that night I went to bed with a sad heart and couldn’t wait until they, we, were all together again. It was too quiet knowing there would be no little smudgy hands, runny noses, and baby cries to greet me in the morning.
I found out later that the flight home for the little family of four was in their words, “The worst plane ride in the history of plane rides.” My son described the scene well, the toddler rolled like a crocodile in his lap while screaming. His infant sister, to young to roll but did her fair share of screaming for the entire two hour flight. I believed them and I understand what it’s like to be in public with very unhappy, unreasonable, children. I genuinely felt bad for them. But I also believe that they are in the best time of their lives, even with the crocodile rolls and endless screaming.
I remember when my own kids were little. There was crying, sometimes seemingly endless crying, spitting up, throwing up, runny noses, sickness, squabbles, sleeplessness, and total exhaustion, and of course the chaos of a messy house. The dirty laundry filled the laundry room, but there was always clean laundry waiting to be folded, sticky messes on the kitchen table, smudges on the windows, dishes in the sink, and toys strewn all over the floor like landmines waiting to catch an unsuspecting bare foot in it’s grip of pain. But there was also love so much love for those kids. There was laughter, endless playtime, singing, dancing, eating, baking, reading, and a mountain of hugs and kisses.
I don’t ever remember wishing away the chaos, but maybe I did, maybe we all do. But now that my house is quiet and clean I miss it, because with the chaos came the babies and a time when all they wanted was mom and dad. They were underfoot all the time, worry was kept to the dangers of our own home, and we were in charge of that. We had them twenty-four hours a day, every single day and it was glorious. We had them all to ourselves and we loved every minute. But so did they, they didn’t desire to go anywhere else, they didn’t ask and they even cried when we made them. They wanted just us as much as we wanted them. Those were the best moments.
That quiet Monday morning I didn’t jump out of bed, there was no reason. I stepped through the darkness with no worry of plastic blocks or pointed dinosaur legs to penetrate the bottom of feet. My head hung low mostly because I was tired, but I was also sad. When I flipped on the light I noticed the goldfish, two little goldfish that had slipped from a little hand and landed on the carpet. Two little goldfish that had been missed during the clean up, and had been stepped over for hours before I noticed them now, of course I cried.
Maybe we don’t remember the chaos after our kids are grown, maybe we are just suppose to remember the good times, love and laughter, but without the hard times, without the chaos, without the mess and the goldfish on the floor there would be no kids at all or maybe without the kids there would be no goldfish on the floor. Does is matter which is which, kids and messes are a package deal. It’s hard and exhausting to have and care for babies, and it would be absurd to think that we are happy and content all the time during the screaming, sticky hands, runny noses, messy house phase of life, but I do know we don’t have one without the other. Those were the days that we loved the most. Those days were the most precious of days.
I picked up the goldfish and threw them away, and through my tears I also laughed, it made my morning, and took away the sadness because I knew that a precious little toddler had passed through this doorway, and will again soon.
You know we should appreciate the goldfish in our lives because you just don’t have goldfish on the floor without toddlers, or you can’t have toddlers without having goldfish on the floor. Whichever!
Cherish the mess, the bruises on the bottom of your feet, the chaos, the crocodile rolls on the plane and yes even the goldfish on the carpet.
Because one day very soon those babies will be gone and the house will be quiet and clean.