On some of the articles I've written, I use a simple byline. "Tiffany loves the laundry five children generate, but could do without the sticky floors." True story about loving laundry. But let's talk about the sticky floors. The wording, "could do without" is probably too gentle and misleading. It should say, "I can't stand sticky floors" or even "I hate sticky floors." Few things set me off more than my feet sticking to my kitchen floor.
Sticky floors remind me of fingerprints and cheesy Mother's Day cards and poems. (Which incidentally, I love.) You know the ones about the sticky fingerprints, and how one day we mothers will miss them and so a painted handprint of our young child's hand graces the front of a card. I'm a sucker for them every time. But that is on Mother's Day. The other 364 days of the year, fingerprints (and sticky floors) test my patience.
It's quite ironic that as I write this article, my son and his friend decided to have an ice cream cone. While taking a momentary break from typing to go and get a glass of water, there on the kitchen floor, I found four large round spots of melting ice cream. My son and his friend were nowhere to be found (fortunate for them), and so there was no one to clean up the mess but yours truly. I wasn't happy as I knelt down to paper-towel mop the orange mess. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I was doing my best to make sure no stickiness would remain, and then I remembered my trip to Target earlier in the day.
I was shopping with two of my children while another child stayed home babysitting the others. It was a pretty uneventful shopping trip. I enjoyed shopping with my two daughters for some new spring clothes.
As we climbed into the car, I saw a mother loading her three children into a nearby cart. The baby was crying, and the two others were settling into their cart seats. When I looked more closely, I realized it was a mother I knew, and I called a friendly greeting and wave her way. Although she was friendly back, I could see exasperation in her face as she pointed to the crying one1-year-old and said, "This isn't a good way to start a shopping trip."
My mother-heart felt an immediate kinship with her. I knew what she was experiencing. Except... I didn't anymore. As my 15-year-old and almost 10-year-old quietly seated themselves in the car, I realized I couldn't remember the last time I took several little children to the store with me! I wanted to yell out the window to her and tell her to relax, it won't last forever. But I didn't. I don't like it when people say it to me.
But I do try to say it to myself.
Like when my almost 5-year-old takes a bath, and it seems more water ends up on the bathroom floor than in the tub. Or when my 15-year-old leaves a trail of her belongings wherever she walks. Or when my 12-year-old gets so excited about something his goat is doing and insists I need to drop what I am doing and go watch right now. I tell it to myself when my 6-year-old has more food on his face than in his stomach, and when my 9-year-old leaves craft projects on my office floor.
I know the sticky floors and fingerprints and crying children at stores don't last forever. Unfortunately, neither do some of the good things. My 15-year-old doesn't love me hugging and kissing her as she walks out the door to school. My 12-year-old no longer brings me bouquets of weedy flowers. My 6-year-old rarely asks for a bedtime lullaby anymore, my 9-year-old never wears my high heels as dress ups, and my 5-year-old looks huge when I snuggle him on my lap.
It doesn't last forever.
Neither will whatever is wearing your patience thin.
There's a chance that tomorrow morning when I walk into my kitchen, I may stick to the remains of ice cream from my quick paper-towel mopping job. My initial reaction may be to raise my voice at my son, but maybe, just maybe, this time I'll remind myself to relax! It won't last forever.