I never did mind about the little things. This is what I tell myself (sometimes through clenched teeth) when disappointing things happen that are beyond my control. The expression stayed with me long after watching the movie, Point of No Return, with Bridget Fonda. Something goes sideways – paste a little smile on and repeat the mantra. It really comes in handy as a mother, when I realize that I’m no longer as in control of what happens in my life as I used to be.
My daughter has just finished a glowing rendition of the “Cups” song, bashing a plastic cup repeatedly on our lovely wood dining room table. “Did I just make all those marks?” she asks in surprise after the grand finale. Her dad and I lean over to inspect. “Uh, yeah, you did,” I say, and then shrug, “We can have a perfect table, or we can look back at all the great memories on it.” Dings, stains and grooves rather add to the patina of it, I tell my husband later, plus we can always refinish it one day.
I wasn’t always so flippant about stuff like this, but the passage of time spent in the company of children has definitely changed my perspective on things. I let more roll off my back, take things with a grain of salt, or borrow a saying from my daughter; YOLO. You only live once. I remember when things had to be just so and a broken glass would ruin my afternoon, but children make you realize that there is so much more to life than prized possessions, orderliness and perfection. My kids are now my prized possessions, organization is a neatly stacked pile of mess, and perfection is a day spent surrounded by their innocent beauty.
My mother’s words often ring in my ears; you’ll have plenty of time for an organized home when the children are grown up and gone. My son didn’t tuck the shower curtain in properly the other day and I went upstairs to find a small flood on the bathroom floor. “What happened here?!” my voice is an octave higher than usual. And then I see his sweet, bemused face. Breathe. I never did mind about the little things. I grab every towel I can get my hands on and start sopping up the mess. I help to dry him off and calmly remind him to double-check the shower curtain next time.
By Kristen Wint