I See Gray Hairs, Not Silver Linings

The kids are in bed, and I’m taking a break from finishing the tasks I repeatedly reminded them to complete today.

Things that were supposed to be put away were moved from one spot to another. Dishes that were supposed to go in the dishwasher ended up on the counter directly above the dishwasher. Garbage ended up on the floor next to the trash can instead of in it.

I had dishes broken today because distractions are deadly when you’re taking two hours to unload the dishwasher one can’t bring themself to open later to deposit dishes into.

I asked for dinner to be put away and the table to be cleared. But there sits the butter dish with no lid, drinking glasses, a stray fork, and the giant – RED – pot dinner was served from. Right there in the middle of the table.

Even the dog took every last toy and comfort item out of her designated basket and left everything strewn about the living room.

A Long Week

It’s been a long week for a multitude of reasons. I’m sitting here at the end of it frustrated, tired, and frankly, a little salty.

Even while I sat down to type this, Little Man emerged from his room to inform me his middle toe is bothering him.

I have never cared less about anyone else’s middle toe in all my life.

I know you have these days, too. The days that take weeks off your life. Days where you have nothing left to give at the end of it. The days where it quite literally takes more muscles and brain power to smile, despite what those other people say about frowning. They can just go on ahead and shutteth thy mouth.

And so it goes

After cleaning up what was already supposed to be cleaned up, baking a couple of loaves of rhubarb-strawberry bread for the morning, and sitting down to take a load off, I can feel the ache in my shoulders and neck creeping up to remind me what a long week it’s been.

From this spot in the living room, I can turn my head a quarter turn and see a bajillion-and-one things that were neglected today. And yesterday. And all week long. Things that until or unless I take my child by the hand and help them pick it up and put it away, will continually be left in that spot.

Most of it is infuriating. I’m very much a person who suffers from mental clutter when surrounded by physical clutter. It takes a toll on me in a number of ways.

But also, I think back to those five little words that have held some of the fondest and most meaningful folds of my heart since I heard them: “Just let them be little.”

Granted, one will be a teenager next week. The other will be spending this year in the last of the single digits for his age. They’re not little kids anymore.

And yet…

I see the “treasure box” their piano teacher sent. When they have a good lesson and completed all their practices the week prior, they get to go to the treasure box and dig for a reward. It’s out, opened, and scattered about one of the tables.

But it’s a sweet reminder of the fact they do work hard on – and really enjoy – their music lessons. Their piano teacher is a diamond in the rough, and we’re so grateful for her.

I see the multi-tool Little Man is supposed to be exceptionally responsible for. It’s already been taken away from him twice (since Christmas), and there it sits on the end table. Even while it’s metallic bright blue, it somehow goes unnoticed by the eyes of its owner.

I see the pages of the book Little Miss is writing with her friend. I see the words “Chapter 2 edits” written in red in the notebook beneath it, left on the counter. But my goodness – she’s writing a book. With her friend. The mess is annoying, but the project itself is pretty endearing.

Suffice it to say, I could probably pen a lengthy post about the things out of place, the jobs left undone, and the belongings that are where they do not belong. “A place for everything, everything in its place” is only half true here. Everything is definitely in a place.

And maybe this is the lesson.

For me. Maybe I spend a little too much time focusing on what’s out of place, or what the imperfections are. Maybe I don’t get to have a clean house until the kids are moved out and I’m not chasing after them to complete every single chore.

Or maybe I just stink at teaching my children the importance of – or even how to – properly pick up after themselves. Huh. I mean doubt it, but I won’t completely dismiss the possibility.

I suppose when it comes down to it, which would I rather have? A clean house? Or a home with kids who enjoy living in it?

Maybe the frustration will subside enough to where I’ll be able to openly advocate for the obvious answer there. While I move this math book to put my feet up on the ottoman, I’ll ponder it and pray the Lord will soften my heart.

The days drag on, but the years fly by. Just let them be little.

4 Replies to “I See Gray Hairs, Not Silver Linings”

  1. Val, I could actually feel your frustration while I read your message this morning. I remember when this was ‘my life’. The most important message that speaks volumes was the mention of how the children are happy living in the home you have established for them. HUGE accomplishment!!
    My suggestion for you Val is to keep your eyes open for God’s Blessings every day. Start writing down one blessing that stood out in each day. After some time you will find even the tough days don’t feel as challenging. I’m sending you a BIG BEAR HUG. ❤️

  2. Val,
    Girl, I see you. I hear you. I join you in those conflicting feelings. I, too, just can not deal with the physical clutter around me if I am to be free of mental clutter as well. And, by the grace of God, I hope and pray that my children will not live in houses that are worthy of being condemned if the present is any indication of the future. 🙂
    I also envy my children’s ability to see right past everything that is out of place or that needs to be put away. I wish a bit of that could be transferred to me. I’m a broken record, repeatedly telling them to put their own stuff away, and yet, just as you, there it sits in the exact same spot for days, or just simply moved to a new location.
    You are not alone in the trenches. And, I love my children dearly.

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