I’m cleaning, sweeping what appears to be an entire box of Kix, scattered across my living room floor. I’m throwing toys, and parts of toys, and unmatched socks, and sticky, crumpled papers, away, away, away.
I’m returning stained, ruined, couch cushions back to their places and sighing deeply. I just want to be able to have clean furniture. And I just want walls without streaks of brown fingerprints. I just want to be able to buy boxes of cereal without imagining half spent across my kitchen floor in the span of ten seconds. I just want to be able to buy hair clips for my daughters and know that more than one of them will stick around for longer than two days.
Alex stands by the fireplace, tapping his foot, watching me sweep. You said we could watch Liberty Kids after lunch, remember?
Well, yes, Alex, I remember, but then I realized *this* disaster was still here, and so, no, we won’t be watching Liberty Kids. How about you help out?
And please, I think, while shoving dustpan number 92 into the trash, I could do without the reminders that I am an inconsistent parent – that at least five times out of ten, what I say and what we actually manage to do together, do not match up. I could do without the foot tapping and the heavy sighing of Gee, Mom let us down again…
Alex retreats to clean the bathroom in a harumph. I peel the sticky remnants of a Gogurt from the floor beneath my couch.
Asher twirls into the scene behind me, donning a superhero cape. The Haneys! he says, to no one and everyone all at once, as though announcing the next great superhero family.
I sweep toy soldiers up alongside some petrified brown thing that I can’t (and don’t want to) identify. I reset the bins of books and toys beside the couch, looking down at the clutter we collect, the things we hold onto, the things that make my children smile.
We may not be neat. Or quiet. Or perfectly punctual. And we might not be consistent in everything – but we are in the things that matter. Like, apologizing, hugging, and laughing and finding joy in the smallest of moments. Like a child, twirling into the living room and declaring his family super.
If nothing else, it makes this whole mess I’m still standing in a whole lot more worthwhile.