What I Would SayTo My Younger Self
About 16 years ago, a friend prompted me to submit a short story I had written for publication. After several rejections, I gave up. I’m not even sure if I still have a copy of it anymore.
The story was titled, “Cracker Crumbs.” It was written as a reminder to savor the moments of motherhood and find joy in all of the messes. This point was inspired by my 3rd son who, at the time, was about 2 years old. He had an obsession with Ritz Crackers and almost always had one in his little chubby fingers. I don’t always remember details well, but I remember the night I wrote this story like it was yesterday.
Woody worked swing shift and was gone at night a good bit. I spent many evenings alone, and mastered the solo bedtime routine pretty well. After the kids were asleep I’d move onto cleaning up the dinner dishes, and anything else that needed to be done before I went to bed. Once I finished the dishes, I swept up some crumbs under the kitchen table. After that I noticed a pile of crumbs on the coffee table. From there I spotted crumbly smudges on the glass door that most certainly came from those pudgy handfuls of cracker.
I was feeling aggravated that the house seemed so messy, but I was too tired to clean anymore. As I collapsed onto the living room sofa, I felt something under my bare legs. It was….more crumbs. I groaned allowed even though no one was around to feel sorry for me.
Right then, in my empty living room full of cracker crumbs, it was like I could see into the future ahead. I imagined what life might look like 15-20 years down the road when my kids were older and my floors were cleaner. I would have a crumb-free sofa and see through window panes. I would maybe, just maybe, be able to enjoy some down time after dinner without worrying about a sink full of dishes. In that moment I was reminded that one day I would look around at the cleaner surfaces and wish that those messy moments hadn’t passed so quickly. I knew that despite the frustration I sometimes felt, I needed to find joy in this season I was in. I needed to embrace every mess, every toy and every tiny fingerprint.
Many years later I am living in the future that I envisioned that night in my living room so long ago. My floors and countertops may not be quite as pristine as I had thought, and I’m still exhausted every night after dinner, but sometimes I do miss the mess. Some days I do miss the noise. I miss the chubby fingerprints, and yes, even the crumbs.
Our two oldest boys live 9 hours south of us, and my chubby fingered 2 year old is going on 18, and can cook his own supper. We did have another baby after that, and lucky for me (insert slight sarcasm) pre teen girls can be a little messy.
I have no regrets from those younger days of parenting, but I do wish I could tell my younger self a thing or two...slow down a bit and appreciate the things I wished away, cracker crumbs and all.