Sticky Floors, Dirty Ovens, Happy Kids

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Wyatt, our seven-year-old, was lying in bed with me one morning recently. Having a fifteen-year-old son, I know tender moments like these don’t last, so I was soaking it in, feeling content and cozy. Happy to be delaying my morning chores, I know there will be a time soon when no one will want to cuddle with me. Wyatt was stroking my hair. Life was good.

Then he began to speak, “Mom, no offense, but you have terrible hair. It’s all big and puffy and not soft.”

I start laughing and he continued, “Seriously, feel it.”

The good news is my son is not using me for my gorgeous locks. It got me thinking though. What is the draw? At the end of the day when we have pestered them about everything from putting their laundry in the hamper, to brushing their teeth, they are not thanking us for helping them to become more responsible. And I would hate to think I am being used for throwing a birthday party once a year, or allowing Nerf bullets to be fired in the house.

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At the end of the day, what is it that makes a kid love their mom? They have no memory of the days when they lay like a little eggroll, helpless in their baby blanket, dependent on us to feed, bath, clothe, and change them. Although that is when the deep bonds form, seven year olds don’t walk around loving us for making sure their most basic needs have always been met.

I don’t know a mom that would ask her second grader, “Hey, why do you love me anyway?”

Once in a while, without them realizing it, they tell us though. Loud and clear.

Like the time we were on a road trip in the middle of the Midwest. We pulled off to get gas and visit the adjacent gift shop. The shop had hardwood floors and shelves full of handmade candies, caramel corn, and crafty, quilted, and unique gifts. The kids, happy to stretch their legs and hopeful to buy some sweets, perused the shelves and aisles.

Wyatt came up to me, “I found something you have to buy”

I took what he was holding out of his small hands. It was square, rustic-wood framed piece of burlap. On the burlap was needle pointed three flowers and under it, the following saying: Good Moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids.

At six years old, Wyatt got it. The sign was able to articulate for him that he is happy. He loves me for who I am, and for knowing that there is more to life than spotless floors. That I understand that being a kid is messy and that crafts and baking, and building, and using imaginations is essential.

I bought the sign, carried with us on the rest of the road trip and upon our return placed it on our kitchen counter. I look at it every day. It reminds me that no matter what chaos is currently unfolding, and no matter how terrible my hair is, Wyatt is happy and indeed, he loves me.

Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood.” Visit her at www.JillFales.com

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