—I came downstairs to find Cocoa Krispies everywhere. I asked Jackson what happened, and he told me, “I was starving so I dumped it out on the ottoman and ate it like a chicken.“–
This was a recent post on my long time friend, Catherine’s, Facebook page. Jackson, 6, is a creative, hilarious character. Clearly. And his chicken pecking krispies moment made my morning, in a coffee spewing out of the nose kind of way… but only because it was at her house, not mine. After I stopped laughing, (and wiped up the mess), my next thought was, “I would kick his little butt. That’s a $4 box of cereal in the trash! And that’s WITH a coupon! And a big ass mess to clean up!” But Catherine saw the creative hilarity in Jackson’s independent breakfast– instead of focusing on the wasted money and the mess. She even commented that “There’s something strangely satisfying about hearing all those krispies getting sucked up in the vacuum.” Dear Catherine, Teach me, oh wise one, how to take a chill pill… and see the funny instead of the mess.
Food messes, though now a daily occurrence, are among the many (maaannnny) things I need to ‘chill out’ about. I am learning from other mommy friends (and mommy bloggers) that imperfection and chaos are far more common than neatly lined up books (in size order) and organized dresser drawers with neat stacks of precisely matched outfits.
The first time Zac threw his lunch on the floor, I thought it was oddly adorable. I think I even hummed as I cleaned it up, thinking how silly mommy’s little monkey was. You see, when you haven’t had them very long, everything they do, especially if it’s for the first time, is an adorable, precious, priceless, wish-I-had-my-camera experience. Once the baby warranty is reaching its expiration, and you’ve wiped food and formula off the walls a few dozen times, ravioli worn as a hat and pages of Golden books for dessert become sources of exhaustion and frustration, instead of Kodak moments. This morning was one such moment…
I walked out of our cozy, freshly vacuumed (joke’s on me) breakfast nook for a minute or two. Heaven forbid mommy go pee by herself. And upon my return, I found Zachary mid-mayhem. I’ll spare you the smeared peas, scattered fishsticks, look mom the dog likes cheese too details. But I bullshit you not, there was food on the fan. Well played, son. Well, played. I tried to channel my inner-Catherine. I really, really did. I failed. In fact, I think I actually growled. Several “bad boy, no-no, yucky yuckys” later, Zac was still sitting there in his booster with a satisfied grin (and a bunch of yogurt) on his face, watching mommy play her part in our little lunchtime game. Point, set, match. You win, little bear. And I just started laughing. To which he responded with a healthy, bellowing, grown-manish guffaw. I swear I really do wish I’d had my camera. Who better to teach me to lighten up than a 19 month old?
Undoubtedly, this will not be my last yucky mess to clean up– probably not even the last one today! My guess is I’ll be investing in Swiffer, Hoover and Lysol wipes for a while. And I’ve given up on rearranging the blocks in the block bin so that they all rest nice and level, letter side up. It took me the better part of a year to relinquish this burning desire to rearrange, but I gave it up. And I finally got over separating my cookware into “stuff Zac is allowed to play with” and “stuff he’s not” categories and just gave my entire kitchen over to his personal percussion section. Oh did I forget to mention I am slightly type-A? One of my many charms at which motherhood is snickering vindictively in the corner. But I’m learning. Conducting a parent-teacher conference at which the student’s mother reached across my desk and pulled a cheerio out of my hair is a humbling lesson. She laughed; I resisted the urge to cry. She assured me that no explanation was necessary and offered to go get me some coffee. Clearly a fellow sister in the struggle.