Today, after I had finally managed to get showered; get the load of laundry that needed drying switched over (and a new load started); when I had finally managed to feed lunch (shabby though it was) to my two little ones; and even get one tucked in bed for a nap; when I was just close enough to start thinking about how nice it was going to be -- in just a few more minutes now -- to sigh the contented sigh of things accomplished, sit totally still for a moment looking out at the chickens goofing around in my backyard, and eat some sort of little lunch myself; it was at that moment that Jesse said, "Please clean it, floor, Mommy," and I discovered that he had taken the two cups of milk that had been sitting on the counter and not just spilled or dumped, but hurled them across the kitchen.
The counter was covered, the stools were covered, the cups had rolled under the table -- leaving milky little trails in their wake, the sliding glass windows, the chair legs and the lower cupboards were all rather viciously splattered in milk.
I sighed. Not the sigh of content and a moment off my feet. No, not that sigh -- not the one I'd been looking forward to. Rather, a very different sigh as I sadly reminded Jesse (for the, perhaps, one billionth time) that we don't throw milk, that that makes mommy very sad and is a naughty thing to do. k
He said happily, "Sorry Mom." I wondered.
Anyway, I changed Jesse's diaper, retrieved monkey from the kitchen (luckily he had managed to escape most of the milk -- perhaps he knows Jesse well enough by now to know when to duck and when to hide), and put Jesse and old sock monkey up to bed.
Then, thinking longingly of the left over sweet and sour chicken in the fridge, and frowning slightly at the nice clean pants I had just put on, I got down on my hands and knees and began sopping up milk.
As I cleaned, however, it occurred to me that this wasn't so bad. It certainly wouldn't matter in a few weeks. Why, it wouldn't even matter in a few hours -- these moments lost to a task that shouldn't have needed doing.
As I rung the milk out of one towel and began getting another wet and soapy, as I crawled under the table to mop up splatters and reach the wayward cups, as I twisted stools this way and that to see if I'd missed any milk droplets; I remembered that there wasn't anything else that I really should be doing. Certainly many things seemed more vital -- more like they should be done, or even, had this not happened, could be done. Still, somehow I knew that cleaning up milk from all over the floor -- just like sweeping up shattered glass when I am just about to head us all out the door to church, or picking up the stepped on pieces of an entire box of cereal just dumped onto my freshly vacuumed carpet -- were part of what I signed up for when I took this road, when I decided to be a mother. I might not have realized it at the time -- I might have thought I was signing on more for snuggling, and cute little freshly bathed baby smell, and darling little mispronounced toddler words. I might have even recognized that I was signing on for teaching alphabet letters, and counting by tens; for explaining the gospel, and reading books. But, whether I realized it or not, I was also signing up for millions of throw-you-off-track side obstacles. Millions of things that seem to stop you from doing more important things. And somehow, for some reason, today I felt like that was OK. I felt like mopping up milk from all over my kitchen floor was part of my calling as a mother. That doesn't seem like much of a calling does it? But when I thought of it as part of the package, as part of the necessary business of raising these children, it seemed like -- well, exactly what I should be doing at that moment. It seemed like it wasn't wasted time. It seemed like a very small part of a very important and big thing.