As I made my way around the house the other day, I found myself completing a few (inconvenient) tasks that I so desperately wish my kids would do themselves. There was the toilet that wasn’t flushed, again. So I flushed it. There was dirty underwear worn by a child who clearly had not wiped after using the potty. So I washed it. There was garbage on the floor, garbage that I know I had already thrown away twice. So I threw it away again. There were Legos that I had picked up at least 100 times that day, only to feel the excruciating pain of stepping on one. Again. So I picked them up. Again. There were the pencils, and markers, and crayons covering the kitchen table. So I gathered them all up, only to find the craft closet in complete disarray, my hopes of containing it all neatly behind closed doors, crushed.
As I flushed, and washed, and picked up, I thought up a list of New Year’s resolutions for my kids. The things that my children would resolve to do (if it were up to me) went a little something like this:
1. Thoroughly wipe after each visit to the potty
2. Flush the toilet after every use, especially after going “Number 2”
3. And speaking of toilets…“Let mom use the bathroom, ALONE” seems to be an appropriate addition to the list
4. Realize that trash really isn’t that interesting, and leave it in the garbage can
5. Keep the Legos confined to the numerous totes, boxes, and baskets that have been designated for these tiny hazards
6. Take out only enough craft items for one project at a time…
7. And then carefully return all craft items to their designated storage spaces
After considering these things, I started to think of a time when these inconveniences would no longer be a part of life. I imagined the children maturing, taking care of and picking up after themselves. I pictured a tidy home with clean toilets and muttered to myself how nice that would be.
But as I dreamed of that clean home and those shiny toilets, a New Year’s resolution of my own came to mind.
And it went something like this:
Stop focusing on the inconveniences and negative aspects of having young children to clean up after; Start focusing on the gifts that result from these inconveniences.
Eventually, the children will wipe and flush on their own, which actually will be REALLY nice. But eventually they won’t be here to barge in on me while I’m in the bathroom. Maybe the house, and the bathroom, will be just a little too quiet. Their presence is a gift, even if it does come at inconvenient times.
And eventually, the trash will no longer be interesting enough to hold their attention. There will be other things, more dangerous things perhaps, that will tempt them. So, I will be thankful for the gift of my children’s innocence; they are young enough to be entertained by something as simple as garbage.
Eventually those Legos, which provide hours of wonder and entertainment, will be confined to a box for good. There will be no children around, beaming with pride about their latest, greatest Lego creation.
And the craft supplies? Eventually, a day will come when they are no longer used to write love notes to mommy, or draw a heart with “Daddy” inscribed in the middle of it, or write letters to God that are covered in colorful flowers and rainbows.
And when “eventually” comes, I know I will look back and wish to be inconvenienced by these things just one more time.
So in this New Year, instead of focusing on the inconveniences that my children bring to my life, I will look for the gifts that are hidden within the inconveniences.