“Mom, I like how Ethan sticks out his tongue when he’s concentrating!”
Fresh from a diaper change my little two year old works so hard at scooping the dried macaroni out of the box into his tiny cooking pot. It’s the only age where it’s still cute to wander around clad in a t-shirt and a diaper.
He fills his pot to the brim and then walks methodically around the living room grasping it tightly. His speech doesn’t allow him to articulate his thought process, but you can tell he’s wondering “Where… oh where should I dump this now?”
“Nooooo! Don’t dump it on your brother’s head!”
There’s always introductory peace followed by horrific battle cries, and one brother running off to cry in frustration.
And then the classic disobedient dumping of the noodle bowl occurs when the two biggest brothers wander by, engage for a few minutes, cause a ruckus, and then are removed from the scene for misconduct.
I should keep a yellow post-it notepad attached to my belt so I can administer all of the yellow cards when necessary… except I haven’t worn a belt since 1995.
Creative play. It’s always the messiest play, it’s the “I think I might regret this when it comes time to clean this up” play. But it’s also the open-ended type of play that I adore. It leaves room for imagination only possessed by the smallest of children.
They keep stirring, and piling, and stacking, and scooping, and dropping, and mixing.
The clinking sounds of the dried noodles echo as they go flying around MY cooking pot now, because his little kitchen set cooking pot “just wasn’t quite big enough for his batch of soup.”
“Coconut… dump… sugar… dump it… basil… dump it… garlic… OK now stir.”
It’s a repetitive mundane, predictable routine they’ve created now, but I see the beauty in it. I smile and say to their big brothers in the penalty box, “Aw look it… watch what they’re doing, they’re working so hard at their play.”
How often do I find myself in repetitive, mundane, predictable routines?
All of the time.
I wipe down the table after yet another meal.
I once again sweep up all of the crumbs that escaped from the little mouths who attempted to eat them.
I help my toddler step one foot, then the other, into his shorts after he’s gone to the bathroom again for the 27th time.
I unload the dishwasher, put food onto those dishes, serve those dishes, clean up those dishes, and load them back into the dishwasher, again and again, day after day.
It’s my version of dried macaroni scoops.
Slow and methodical, yet filled with wonder and amazement at watching it being scooped and emptied, poured and filled, over and over again. There has always been more food, there’s always been a brand new day, there’s always been a broom in my closet wanting to be used.
The mundane is beautiful. Repetition is beautiful. Mess is beautiful.
It tells stories of childhoods being lived and motherhood performing its beautiful work, and it’s necessary and a huge part of this sacred job.
So keep on scooping, keep on making a mess, keep on cleaning it up, and keep on reminding yourself that it’s crazy and messy and beautiful… and it’s supposed to be.