Monday, August 30, 2010

Little Messes

If there is one thing that I cannot stand, it's clutter. Forget sentimental value. If it isn't serving a purpose, it's outta here - either to Goodwill or to the trash. We strive to keep things very neat.

And let me tell ya, the kids loooove it.  I'm constantly organizing their toys or asking them to pick something up. Occasionally, I will hear those little groans of inconvenience, but they've learned to accept it.

But for some reason on Sunday, I began to look at their little messes a little differently.

I scanned the living room, looking at Drew's Thomas the Tank Engine track and all his little trains scattered about. I saw his soft baseballs and footballs, left where he had most recently thrown them. I saw his favorite book about Elmo left on the floor where Brian had just read to him. And I could see the happy, energetic, inquisitive toddler that is my son today.

Then I looked at the kitchen table, where Bailey had her art supplies completely covering the glass tabletop. I looked at the two bottles of sand art that she had created, noticing the careful precision she had used to ensure that each color was evenly represented. Drying on the kitchen counter, I saw the picture frame that she had made for me out of notebook paper and squeeze paints. I looked at the pile of Silly Bandz that she had taken off her wrist and laid to side, as to not interfere with her artistry. And I could see the caring, particular, creative pre-teen that is my daughter today.

I started thinking about when Bailey was Drew's age. It seems like only yesterday that I was down in the floor with her, playing tea party or watching Dora the Explorer. I started thinking about how her interests and activities have changed over the years to reflect how she has grown and changed.

And then I looked over at Drew's toys, thinking about how quickly he, too, will be growing and changing. It will feel like only tomorrow when he will be too big for those Thomas trains or those Elmo books.

So instead of putting 20 trains back in their case or sweeping a pile of paper scraps off the kitchen floor, I just enjoyed it. Because this moment is what defines my children today. And in the blink of an eye, it will all be different... because they will be different.

It's funny - I think it's those little messes that I'm going to miss the most one day.