A couple of weeks ago I was vacuuming my kitchen floors while lunch was cooking in the oven. I looked up to see my two little girls walking down the hallway towards their rooms, so I figured I had a few extra minutes to get some other things done while they played.
After I had finished vacuuming, I went into the laundry room to switch the loads out and get some towels folded. My oldest called out to me to come and help her with something in her room. “I’ll be there in just a minute!” I hollered back to her, as I kept folding. “I’ll go as soon as I finish folding these towels,” I told myself. Once done folding, I brought a few of the clean hand towels into our bathroom and noticed that the bathroom needed a quick pick up. As I started tidying, my daughter called for me again. “Mom, are you coming? I really need you!” “Yes, honey, just give Mommy one more minute. I’ve got to get this done.”
A few more minutes passed and I quickly ran to the oven to make sure my casserole wasn’t burning, stirred my gravy on the stove, and started to walk down the hallway to my oldest daughter’s room.
“I wonder what it is she needs my help with now. I wish she could just start to do some stuff on her own so I could get a little more done around here,” I thought to myself.
I walked into the room just in time to see my daughter whip her little body around on the floor, a look of terror on her face. She quickly stood up and hid a towel behind her back, “I’m sorry, Mommy,” she said as the tears began to well up in her eyes.
She stepped to the side to reveal just why she was sorry; blue toothpaste covered the floor and vanity. You could tell the poor thing had tried to clean it up, but you know what happens when you try and rub out that blue gel toothpaste, it just spreads like wildfire.
My initial reaction was harsh. “How in the world did this happen?”
But that girl of mine… Her response took my breath away. “I had some strawberries in my teeth and I just wanted to get them out. I kept calling for you to help me… but Mommy, you were too busy.”
My heart sank. I knelt down and hugged her. “You’re right, honey. Mommy was too busy. But I shouldn’t have been. I’m the one who is sorry.” We stood there and hugged a little while longer. “Come on, let’s clean this up together.”
So there we sat; mother and daughter, side by side, scrubbing away. She at the floor, but me, I was scrubbing away at my busy mama heart. And I knew in that moment that there was a lot that needed to be cleaned out.
For those of us who are the keepers of our homes, it’s a fine line between scratching things off our to-do list and constantly being available when the little people need us. I mean, we all have to have clean underwear, right? But the thing that my daughter taught me on the day of the blue toothpaste is to be available as Mommy first and list scratcher second. Because the last thing that I want my kids to call me is “too busy.”