Allow me to paint a picture of my 3-year-old’s room from earlier this afternoon. There isn’t a thing in this picture that doesn’t drive me absolutely crazy… unmade bed, random orange dish towel I had no idea he even had, blankets piled in a heap on the floor, and the rug turned into a safety hazard rolled every which way on the floor. Oh, and Legos. The ever-present, teeny-tiny Legos.
I had to run back to his room to grab a hat for him on our way outside to play and opened the door to this. As I stood in the doorway and wondered how he’d even had the time to make such a mess, I heard a little voice:
“Sorry, Mommy. Sorry”
I looked down and saw my son standing beside me. He must’ve felt the need to defend himself because he immediately explained that he had built a huge construction site and that his ‘friends’ had helped him.
The orange towel was a loading dock for the giant dump truck, the blankets were huge mounds of dirt and the Legos were rocks that needed to be cleared in order to smooth the ground.
The more he explained, the more I started to see the mess through his eyes. Each item was in a specific place for a specific reason and my son had a plan for each one.
(Except for Pikachu. Not sure what purpose his creepy face served at this site.)
I thought back to his words—
“Sorry, Mommy. Sorry.”
All I could think was… sorry? Sorry for what?
For being creative?
For having an imagination?
For being a kid?
I realized he was looking up at me with his big, brown eyes, a look of disappointment on his face. He knew what was coming. He knew what I was going to say. He knew he wouldn’t be allowed to go outside unless his room was clean. And let me tell you, I wanted it clean too. I really, really wanted it clean. In my head, I was already down on my hands and knees scooping up every last Lego into the bucket.
But instead of giving him an ultimatum, I decided to do something else.
I closed the door.
I closed the door, went outside in the sunshine, and played with my kids.
I watched them as they smiled and waved at the semi-trucks who drove past our house, in an attempt to get them to honk their horns and listened to them laugh when the driver would oblige.
I turned on the bubble machine and watched my 1-year-old as he stumbled all over the driveway, hands in the air, trying to pop the hundreds of bubbles as they floated around him.
I laughed out loud as I watched my toddler zig-zag all over the back yard, leaping and diving to snatch a butterfly, and falling short every time.
I loaded both of them up in the wheelbarrow and pushed them around on the driveway because my toddler thought that it was ‘a really good idea.’ Five minutes and a thousand drops of sweat later, I realized that it was really not a good idea and told my son that Daddy would be so much better at the wheelbarrow game than I was. I may have only made it five minutes, but as I lifted my son out of the wheelbarrow, he said that those five minutes were ‘super fun.’
And all of this happened while the bed was still unmade, the blankets were still in a heap, and the Legos were scattered all over the floor. The world didn’t stop turning and nothing was lost in that hour.
Nothing lost, but memories were gained. And you can never have enough memories.
I don’t want to look back at these days, filled with regret because I was so caught up in the little things that just. don’t. matter. Some days it’s still a challenge, but I’m learning. Every day, I’m learning.
As a mom, there are a lot of things I get wrong. And I mean, A LOT. But this? This I got right.
So whether it’s a messy room, a sink full of dirty dishes, furniture that needs cleaned or loads of laundry that need folded…
…sometimes it’s better just to close the door.