I’ll Never Judge

As I was pushing around the heavy steam cleaner, God brought to mind a thought that entered my mind seven or so years ago. Yes, God has a sense of humor, and His timing is perfect. The day when I couldn’t stand to look at the dark spots on the den carpet any longer, the day when I decided that this was the day to try to remove the evidence of little girls sneaking Mommy’s make-up and magic markers, God reminded me of an ignorant thought that I will never again think:

I’ll never let my carpet get this bad.

Seven or so years ago, I was sitting in the den of a husband and wife who had volunteered to coach other small group leaders. They were as nice as nice could be, and their two blonde girls throwing cartwheels here and there completed the picture of the happy family. But their carpet…

…I was momentarily distracted by it. The fibers were worn–there was no ‘fluff’ or softness left–and the once pale, beige color was spotted with dark circles throughout. And in that moment, I remembered thinking that if I were them, I would get new carpet.

Of course, I had that thought when I was only married a few years. I had never had to re-carpet my house, so I had no idea of the expense. And the most important fact to explain my ignorance–I didn’t have any kids.

I had no idea the futility of getting new carpet when little kids were bouncing around, intent on destroying everything of value in one’s home. I had no idea the time wasted in cleaning anything because Murphy’s Law said less than 24 hours later that same area would be covered in filth.

Therefore, God reminded me of all that I had learned in the last six years while I worked the stains that penetrated my own worn carpet. I felt a twinge of guilt as I remembered my stupid thought. I only had a steam cleaner because my mom passed her old one on to me, and I didn’t whip it out every time a stain hit the rug because steam cleaning was a time-consuming, cumbersome chore.

As I finished the last row in the den, I started to feel what could be described as satisfaction. However, before my body would even let me acknowledge that fulfilling feeling, my mind woke me up: You know everything you just did was pointless, right?

And I did, but I drug the heavy machine up the stairs, anyway, determined to make less of the bright colors that dotted the landing, decorated my daughter’s room. Less than one hour later, after I had drug the machine back down the stairs and emptied the dirty water, my children drove home the lesson of which God had reminded me earlier that day.

Apparently, construction paper when wet will stain carpet. My son’s anger over his sister boiling the panda food in her little play pot that he had created earlier in the day ended in black splotches all over the other sister’s floor.

At this point in the story, I did what any mother would do and gave up.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve given up most expectations. No longer do I expect clean carpet, and if I go to your house, I won’t expect it there, either. In fact, if I come to your home, you can count on the fact that I won’t judge anything.

If there are dust bunnies in the corner or blatantly blowing like a tumbleweed through your family area, I won’t judge. If your clean laundry is tossed on a chair in a wrinkled mess, I won’t give it a second glance, unless I decide to help you out and fold a pair of pants or two. If your walls have the renderings of Picasso wanna-be’s or the letter ‘d’ 17 times because your child just figured out how to write, I won’t even notice. And if your counters are covered with enough papers to convince me that you are in charge of simplifying the tax code, I’ll nod with empathy. I’m that important, too.

I don’t judge anything, anymore. Even you, well-dressed 20-something rushing through the aisles with a frown at the grocery store–I know you’ve just yet to be enlightened about the workings of a four-year-old and a mini shopping cart. Don’t worry; I don’t judge you, either. I just suggest that  you move to the other end of the store. Your thoughts might come back to bite you later.

What is a judgment that you used to make that you will no longer?

Lesson Learned!

From the time my daughter was old enough to have a conscious will, she has loved beautiful and girly things. From jewelry to makeup–she loves them all–and the more colors and glitter, the better!

I was not surprised to find her one day sitting on my bathroom floor, makeup smeared all over her face, mascara wand in hand as she painted her toes. I was not surprised when I found the missing necklace from my jewelry box adorning my daughter’s neck. Nor was I surprised when I found evidence of her princess stamp set marking a trail along the bannister. My daughter believes in spreading beauty and color throughout her world, no matter if she is wearing the beauty and color or her parents’ furniture.

I was never surprised at any of my little girl’s antics. I was, however, surprised at her brother’s.

I wasn’t completely naive–I knew better than to leave little kids alone with scissors–but the combination of trying a recipe for dinner that was taking too long and a crying infant left my attention divided. Way too divided. And in a brief moment, I learned that my son would make his own attempt at beautifying the world:

I just wish he wouldn’t have made this attempt the day before his sister’s second birthday party. And I really wanted her first haircut to be, well, a good one.

I thought I learned my lesson; I figured my son was just young. He was just doing what three-year-olds do. Heck! I cut my own bangs, to my mother’s horror, when I was three. Except that he tried his hand at hair design again when he was four. In exactly the same place that he cut his sister’s hair the first time.

If I hadn’t learned my lesson before, I learned it now. Scissors were no longer put up high–they were put away all together! The only time cutting was a part of arts and crafts was when the kids’ baby sister was napping and dinner preparation had not yet commenced. If Mommy had to use the bathroom, the scissors came with her! She would not make this mistake again.

So it’s really embarrassing that this story continues….

In a quest to save money and prove that I had skill, I took my son outside to cut his hair. I really didn’t know what I was doing, so the haircut took three times as long as if I got it done in the salon. My plan to cut his hair while the baby was napping was a good one. His other sister was playing outside. And when the baby woke up, I took the scissors with me to get her.

Unfortunately, I forgot that there were clippers in my little haircut accessory pouch. My son, however, didn’t. In the thirty seconds I was gone, he found an electric outlet outside, plugged in those clippers, and took a chunk out of his hair–right in the front. And for good measure, he took out a section from his sister’s hair again–in a slightly different place from the last two times. I guess he was starting to learn about symmetry.

So, while others might see a cute picture of a boy and his father, I see that a chunk of hair is missing from his bangs.

Clearly, I do not think fast enough for my son. My tears at lost hair do not have an effect, nor does punishment. And, frankly, I’m not sure any of those things can persuade a person with a passion.

So why fight it? I’ve learned my lesson–I’m enrolling my son in cosmetology school.

I’m linking up today with Mama Kat for her writer’s workshop. I combined two of her prompts–a lesson learned and a time my toddler got into something he shouldn’t have.

Don’t forget to come by tomorrow and link up your own post on kindness for this week’s ‘Journeys!’

Dear Children…

My Dear Caleb and Hannah Grace,

I am in need of therapy, or possibly you are in need of therapy, but either way, we cannot afford a good therapist right now.  Therefore, as you are not taking your naps as I’d asked, even after telling you a good surprise awaits, while HG has smeared diaper cream all over her bottom and legs, while C has broken the second picture frame in two days, while you both somehow have gotten HG’s curtain rod and, subsequently, curtains off the wall, I have come downstairs to quickly write out my feelings.

I do not want to yell at you.  I love you both, and when you come home from preschool, I want us to have happy times.  I want to hear what you have learned.  I do not want to reprimand you for screaming, refusing to get in your car seat, being mean to each other, etc.  And I especially don’t want to get frustrated during the time that is supposed to be my time (even though my time really just means the ability to scrub the kitchen floor without interruption). I no longer want to feel frustrated, so I won’t.

Okay, I hear you calling that you need to go to the potty, and I do feel better.  Amazing, isn’t it?  I’m now going to go upstairs, we’ll clean up together, and we’ll try to salvage the rest of our day.