Spills are a huge deal around these parts. Not only do they happen often, and by “often” I mean every moment of every day, but they come with it a drama best described as some sort of civil war reenactment: there is a lot of ungodly sound, people are yelling in deep voices, and pretty sure there is an anvil in there somewhere.
I try to stay calm when there is a lake of milk in my freshly mopped kitchen floor. When there is a river of juice or water streaming in between the van seats when I am at the red light in downtown LaFollette and I am unable to clean it at the moment, and can almost hear it seeping into the weave of dull gray upholstery, joining its other accomplices in a stain graveyard. One of the best pieces of parenting advice I have received was from a mother of seven that simply said “don’t yell when they spill stuff on the floor”. The struggle is real, people.
So, last week when I pulled into the driveway and I heard that all too familiar ear piercing squeal from the backseat, the “oh no, I just made a huge mess and I don’t want my mom to know but man the water is cold and I can’t keep from screaming” squeal, I put the van in park, took a deep breath, and unlocked the sliding door to access the damage.
The four year old, with his tiny shorts immersed in a large puddle of liquid, locked eyes with mine, and calmly said the following:
“Mommy, sometimes we are going to have spills. Sometimes we are going to mess up. And it’s okay. It is just water. And these are just pants. I am just glad I HAVE pants”.
Tears burned in my eyes as he carefully unbuckled himself from his carseat and trotted inside to change clothes. Because my kids have more than one pair of pants. My kids eat three nutritious meals a day and sleep in a bed that has clean sheets. Forgot the mess, forget the spills. I am just glad I have a house. I am just glad I have a husband. I am just glad I have a minivan that runs. And I am just glad I have a four year old that somehow put all of this into perspective for me.
We are not having to cross borders, to risk drowning for freedom. We are not being executed for our faith. No one is busting our door down to take away our precious children from our arms and ship them away to other countries for unspeakable acts. This American epidemic of entitled parenthood has us stomping our feet when the Wi-Fi is shoddy or when the waitress does not refill our drink in what we consider a “timely manner”. We point fingers and judge parenting techniques, when mothers and fathers across the way are literally just trying to survive another day, hiding their children from harm or sending them out alone, praying that somehow they live. We flip out when “the game” is on and the cable goes out, when the mailman is late delivering our package, when our four year old spills yet another drink from their pricey, BPA free sippy cup. We have blazing, uneducated opinions on religious issues that we carelessly post on social media when we cannot even remember the last time we opened our Bibles, which we have twelve of in our home, our home with indoor plumbing and central heating and air.
The struggle really is real. It is just that we have no idea what “struggle” looks like.
Sometimes we are going to mess up. And it is okay. I am just glad I even have pants.
(Note: This article originally appeared in the September 10th edition of the LaFollette Press, in my lifestyles column, Letters from the Nest).