originally in Abilene Families
Dirty clothes, graded papers, a video game cover, a roll of colored duct tape, part of a uniform that needed to be washed weeks ago, and a stuffed animal loved to the point of needing repair all litter the floor. I step over and around and pick my way through the teen detritus. Asked to bring something to school, I have entered the war zone.
I sigh and marvel. I can’t resist sending a snarky comment via text: “Is there a religious reason the food wrappers are sitting on your dresser right next to your trash can? Are you morally opposed to trash cans?”
The truth is I am cherishing every bit of the hallowed mess. The broken pencils, movie stubs, football cleats, hair bands, ribbons for accomplishments, ripped papers indicating not-quite accomplished all sum up the essence of the child-metamorphosing-into-adult that lives here.
My teens are at a stage of life that has them swiftly heading away from me. Time is going entirely too fast. Before I know what has happened this room will fill with boxes then empty, save a few keepsakes and pieces of furniture. I want to see the joy in the mess and mayhem of life with them, because life without them will be far less colorful.
Every year as we prepare to usher in the new year, the word “TIME” gongs through my head like Big Ben’s chimes. Every year it seems the chimes come faster than they did the year before.
The alarm clock sounds, the school bell rings, the oven beeps that dinner is ready, all the sounds in one day, then another. GONG. The calendar pages flip, Christmas music is playing, now “Pomp and Circumstance,” soon it will be strains of “The Wedding March.” GONG.
Just short weeks ago we were in the thick of football, soccer, and marching band season. My daughter’s band had one movement that had the marchers form a clock. For the dream sequence it represented, though, the hands moved backward. As marching band gods would have it, the one I was there to watch on that field was positioned at precisely the midnight hour on the clock. GONG.
Oh, that I could turn back those hands on the clock just for a moment. We would have one more picnic in the front yard just because it’s Thursday. I would steal one more bony, squirmy pajama-clad cuddle after bath when everyone smelled soapy and fresh. I would read that Little Critter book one more time. Everyone would wear Superhero costumes to the grocery store -- even me -- because if we aren’t there to save the day, who will?
The clock isn’t turning back, though, and this day that I am standing in is the only one I have. Right here, right now, amidst an explosion of teen keepsakes, accessories, clothing, and, well, trash, this is what I have of these precious things, gifted to me by the universe. A whirlwind of comings, goings, late nights, early mornings, misunderstandings, apologies, and hugs that I have to reach up to receive.
So I find joy in the mess and the mayhem. And maybe, when I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll figure out what in heaven’s name that spot on the carpet is and tackle it.