“Mama! Mama! MESS! Mess Mama!”
You were frantic, pointing down at the filthy floor and examining your now soiled sock.
You, my sweet boy, are so much like me. I keep seeing this. You like the feeling of multiple blankets on top of you when you go to sleep and you prefer them to be smooth. You line up your toy cars perfectly even in the midst of playing, because even if they are not where they belong (which they rarely are), they need to be orderly. And you hate getting your socks dirty.
And so, you’ve taken to pointing out all the messy spots in our house, perhaps to avoid the feeling of crumbs underneath your nimble little toddler toes.
“Mama! MESS Mama!”
Oh, Baby. That mess that you are so concerned about? It wasn’t there five minutes ago. Five minutes ago there was a clean floor. Today I swept and even spot scrubbed that floor that you are standing on. I did that because I know how quickly crumbs and dust begin to pile up with an almost-two year old running and eating in this house (and shh, don’t tell Daddy, but the floor always needs a good sweeping after he cooks too!) So, even though I am 30ish weeks pregnant, even though my back aches and my stomach feels like it couldn’t get any heavier, I sweep and sit, sweep and sit until the floor is spotless. Because, Cameron, I love you. And I want your world to be safe and clean.
Five minutes ago, this floor was clean.
And then you had lunch. And after lunch, you threw your plate on the floor because you were ALL DONE! and Mama wasn’t able to get up out of her seat fast enough to take your plate from you. So instead, like the reasonable almost-two year old that you are, you threw your plate full of chicken nuggets and plum sauce and fries and ketchup onto the floor.
And I looked at you and tried to remember why I even bother.
Because five minutes ago? This floor was clean. A cleanliness that lasted pretty much as long as lunch did.
And now? “MESS Mama!” You’re insistent. Pointing out how I have failed you.
Sometimes, being your mother, the mother of a toddler, feels like an act in futility. I clean up your toys each time you go to bed, and you wake up, thrilled to find your cars and trains so orderly. But then you play. You play and you mess. And I trip over balls and big plastic trains and blocks. I give you food and the floor I just cleaned is just as dirty. I set up an activity that you ask for only to have you walk away, uninterested. Sometimes I feel like I am trying so hard and getting absolutely no where.
But I love you. So I make your food. I give you crayons to colour with. I clean up your toys and I sweep up the floor underneath your feet.
Still, our life is messy.
I cook. And I feed. And I clean up. And I pick up. And I sweep. And then, I sit down and take a breath,
And you come over. And you hand me a hockey stick. “GOAL!” Or you start driving a toy car over my legs, my belly. Or you climb up on top of me and snuggle into that spot between my belly and the armrest where you fit so perfectly, and you rest your head against my shoulder, and you just sit.
And the mess fades away. Our dirty socks and our imperfect nature no longer matter. It is just you and me. Mommy and son. Messy and imperfect and loved.
*Some of the photos in this post were meant to be part of my Faces of a Family project. But this weekend, as I was sitting down, feeling utterly overwhelmed and exhausted, I decided to stop the project. I knew I should be picking up my camera and snapping some photos, but I just didn’t have it in me. I think as the year progresses, as my pregnancy progresses and as a newborn enters our life, I am going to have more of these moments. So, for now, the project is on hold.*