Not the details of dirty dishes or unfolded laundry or random stickers. But rather, in the details that are revealed by the unshelved books and the messy car. Even a deadbeat dad can tell you that a kid needs food and clothes! A parent who raises her child – loves, nurtures, supports, encourages, and yes even (or perhaps most importantly) disciplines her child – will tell you a different story, a different set of details if you will just look past the dustbunnies.
Detail: one dirty microwavable egg maker, sitting on the counter because the sink is too full of dirty dishes to fit it in there – and two more in the dishwasher. Life: my son insists on eating scrambled eggs with melted cheese at every single meal; he has for the past seven months and probably will for the next seven months or until something equally obsess-able comes along. It used to be mac-n-cheese, and there are still five instant cups of the stuff in the cupboard should he decide to revert.
Detail: two mounds of clean but unfolded laundry that are piled so high on the couch in my living room that they just might topple over if the door is slammed hard enough. Life: my kids wanted to go for a walk last night, so we spent the forty-five minutes that had been scheduled for laundry sorting and folding and hanging instead walking around the neighborhood. Holding hands. Playing an 8-year-old version of “truth or dare.” Making up 4-year-old verses to “Kum by ya.”
Detail: random stickers that have been on my bathroom mirror so long that they are starting to peel at the edges. Life: my son walked into the bathroom one night while I was self-critically getting dressed to go to the gym, in the continual effort to burn off the “just one extra bite” of this and the “just a little sample” of that. He climbed up on the counter and stuck a sparkly flower sticker from his sister right in the middle of my bathroom mirror. Before I could tell him to “get down and get that thing off can’t you see I’m busy!”, he turned to me with the sweetest smile. “Mommy, you are more prettier than a flower.”
Detail: nine precariously stacked books and two magazines splayed across the dining table. Life: the next book in my daughter’s favorite series is being released tomorrow, and the author, who also happens to be the creative director of one of her favorite game websites, did an interview recently about how he writes his books. Her other favorite series was featured in Ms. Magazine because the princess chooses to kidnap the dragon herself rather than marry the prince, and the library has books three and four in the series. Instead of reading the back of a cereal box, my daughter eats books for breakfast. (My son has his own pile, so he can read bell hooks’ Be Boy Buzz with his cheesy eggs right next to her.)
Detail: blankets on the floor, papers in the seat pockets, and a broken ruler in the door handle of my car. Life: I grew up in North Dakota, where the winters are not just cold, but downright frigid. Freeze-your-spit-before-it-hits-the-ground and don’t-even-think-about-going-outside-with-wet-hair-unless-you-want-it-to-snap-off-like-an-icicle frigid. My kids were born in Arizona, where 65’ is hooded sweatshirt weather. I grew up with a mom who would warm up blankets in the dryer for five minutes every morning before taking us to the babysitter when she went to work. And now, I have turned into her! My kids love those warm “cuddlies” on a balmy 65’ morning.
The papers and broken ruler in the car? They have stories as well, but I don’t have time to worry about your discomfort with my dirty details. I have a life to live!