I have a crumb obsession. They fall to the floor, I grab the broom, and sweep them up. Like, immediately. And, oh, the lengths I go to keep them from falling to the floor in the first place. A gigantic kitchen table, with two benches that are so heavy that once pushed up close to the table my kids can’t push them back out. It pretty much forces them to eat over the table. And so they do, right? Ha.
To look at my kitchen floor, you would think that I let me kids dance on the table, and on the bench they sit in, and all over the kitchen, for that matter. My daughters are two and four, and have learned nothing about eating over the table despite my constant nagging on the matter their entire little lives. It’s a crumb-tastrope in there. No matter how much I sweep the floor, I always miss some crumbs. Either that, or my kids follow behind the broom and drop new ones.
The day I clean the house? That’s when the juice-tastrophe’s and milk-tastrophies and chocolate pudding plops and slimy banana bombs hit the floor. Blueberries plummet to the ground and get stuck on my nice clean sock. The cat barfs up a hairball. It’s inevitable.
So, now…the day I clean the house…I plan to be done cleaning right at naptime. That way, I can revel in the sparkly, beautiful, fresh-smelling house…all by myself…in peace and quiet. Then, I go into the kitchen and start making a mess of my own. That way, I can at least account for my crumbs in the smell and taste of freshly baked goods coming out of the oven. And when I sweep up my own crumbs, after what I’ve cooked and baked has left smiles on the faces of my family…it’s not nearly as annoying. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
It may seem silly to be frustrated by crumbs on the floor, and odder still to find a subtle joy and sense of accomplishment in sweeping them up at times. But, not to me.
As long as I have crumbs to prevent and sweep up, I have a purpose. It’s simple…but it keeps me busy all day long. See where I’m going with this crumb analogy?
I do the same for my daughters, essentially, in trying to prevent and solve their little problems as the days run by. Problems with each other, with friends, with me, with homework, with chores, with bedtime, with eating dinner…you get the point. In a sense, motherhood…life… would be easier without problems to prevent and solve.
Or would it?
Where would the sense of accomplishment be in being handed an ‘easy’ life? Would I appreciate, or even recognize it if I had it, or would I- being human- have to find something to prevent or fix or solve or make better? As my older daughter prepares to turn five in a couple of weeks, the thought of Safety Town and Kindergarten screening reminds me to find joy in my crumbs. These are good crumbs. Having two daughters, as exhausting and daunting a task as it may be to raise them up, is sharpening me.
Little by little, I’m learning to relax about the crumbs. OK, I’m not. Crumbs on the floor drive me crazy, and I have to sweep them up…like…immediately. But, the problems and challenges that arise with my daughters…now those, I’m learning to embrace. I’m human. I’ll never be perfect, nor is anyone’s life meant to exist without purposeful challenge. There will always be something to fix, learn, and improve. But there are also moments at the end of each lesson in life when the light-bulb comes on and I take an attitude of thanks for the whatever I’ve just come through. My daughters are no different. Expecting them to not to fail and have problems just isn’t realistic. I’m finding joy in recognizing a situation I can help them navigate through. With a lot…A LOT.. of prayer, I’m beginning to find the patience and compassion to guide them through some of their toddler woes.
“MOM!!!! I JUST DON’T FEEL LIKE IT!”
Good, thing, too. Because just when I think I’ve found a way to gather enough patience to make it through a five year old melt down…she ups the anty.
“Brianne,” I say calmly…purposely and forcibly calm…”just eat your dinner and then we’ll get ready for bed and read a some books.”
“No. I don’t want to,” she says curtly.
Sigh. I’ll get the broom…