My son takes great delight in encouraging his two boys to leave their imprint on the world around them…literally! Especially when they come to visit Grandma, the finger, tongue and snotty nose prints are left on most of my mirrors, and the inside windows. My son thinks it’s funny, and admittedly I find it hilarious to see their little faces shmooshed up against the glass making faces at me through a window, until I have to clean the slobber after they’ve left. I have threatened to go to my son’s home, and leave MY fingerprints on all his windows and mirrors, but knowing my grandsons, they will have already beat me to it, and my son wouldn’t be the least bit concerned. I see the mess left behind, but he focuses on the fun the boys had making the mess. Maybe he’s got it right.
Way back in my memory banks I remember my days with precocious preschoolers, who finger painted, glued and made the most glorious messes in creating their masterpieces. Try as I might to keep the mess confined for easy cleanup, my kids were undaunted in their pursuit of artistic brilliance, and the more mess they made, the more thrilled they were with themselves. Fort making with all of Mommy’s clean sheets became castles of architectural magnificence. Making cookies, required much finger-licking and doughy kneeding, so much so in fact, I didn’t bother baking the globby balls of gooey disgustingness. I called it play dough and tossed it all away and ensured I had store bought cookies for them to eat, and always praised them for their baking prowess. When my children were finally tucked in bed after a full day of merry, mess-making, I tried to put some order in the chaos. I will admit, I did my share of grumbling while I tidied, but then I’d spot a little handprint on a wall or mirror, and I would smile and remember the fun, and the laughter we had shared together throughout the day.
There came a day of course, when they stopped leaving their tiny fingerprints everywhere. Clothes, boots and shoes were scattered from the hallway to their individual rooms. Papers, books, and bedding, littered their floors. Beseeching them to clean up after themselves became a futile mantra I repeated and they ignored daily. I eventually gave up and closed the doors to their sanctuaries, and retreated in defeat. The saddest days came for me when each of their rooms were emptied of belongings. One at a time, from oldest to youngest, their “messes” were cleaned up around my house, as each of my three children left home to leave their imprint elsewhere.
I haven’t had energy to do much of anything these many months as I battled cancer for the second time. Long before my diagnosis, whenever my adult children would visit they made a point of doing a thorough clean up before they headed to their own homes so I didn’t need to worry about dirty dishes in the sink, or putting away toys the grandbabies had scattered about while playing here. Over the years they have come to appreciate my effort of keeping up with the constant messes they made when they were little. My children labour out of love for me, understanding how much I laboured then and now out of love for them. I appreciate how they have come to respect my home and are eager to help me every time they visit. Still, I always find at least one little grandbaby handprint purposefully left behind; a tiny reminder of the family time we have just shared. I can’t help but smile, and I am in no hurry to polish the glass clean.
The day will come when I won’t see little fingerprints around my house anymore and I will miss them.