Friday, December 14, 2012

Hand towels in the sink

To say I woke up grumpy this morning would be inaccurate. I was grumpy, sure, but I'm not sure that my waking up qualified as such considering the amount of sleep I'd gotten through the night. Benjamin's been fussy—tossing and turning and whining all night—for the past several nights and it's been torture.

Last night I got him to go to bed at around 9:00 and then went off to book club. I grabbed my purse (and nothing else), hopped into the van, and drove down the street. It was my first time leaving the house without my baby in tow since July. I had a lovely time talking to some of the sisters in my ward about Henry Van Dyke's The Mansion. We talked about service and miracles and faith and gratitude. It was perfect and just what I needed.

We finally called it a night and I slowly, slowly made my way home (in the dark...with fogging windows). I was greeted at the door by my fairly desperate husband and inconsolable little boy.

"Why didn't you text me?! I had my phone on my lap the whole night!" I said over the noise that poor baby was making.

"I assumed you were having a good time and didn't want to interrupt you!" he said loudly back.

I quickly took Benjamin from Andrew and quieted him down. It took a while. He was so upset with life that he was flailing and jerking his little body around; he could hardly settle down to nurse and then once he did he continued to grunt angrily to communicate his displeasure.

I had him asleep and back in his bed by 2 AM when Andrew and I slipped outside to watch for meteors. I saw three. Andrew saw the third one with me and then said, "I saw one—let's go back inside now!"

It suddenly got cold here. Like it frosted last night and everything.

It got up to about 70 degrees by this afternoon but this morning it was frosty outside.

Benjamin had gotten up at 3 AM...and 5 and 6 and 7:30. I was wasted.

After I'd changed his diaper and set him down to play with his toys I went into the girls' bathroom to wash my hands and grab some hair stuff so I could do Rachel's hair for school. And I lost my cool completely.

Here's the thing:

When our girls are finished doing whatever it is they're doing at the sink they put all their tools into the sink instead of where they go.

If they just brushed their teeth you could expect to find tubes of toothpaste, the lids to the toothpaste, and toothbrushes resting in their just-spit-out mouthfuls of foaming fruit-flavoured Crest.

If they just washed their hands you'd be sure to find the handsoap and towel in the sink, both dripping wet.

If they had just brushed their hair you'd find the hairbrush, detangler, and maybe a barrette or two sitting dangerously close to the drain.

I hate it. And every time I use their bathroom or go in to clean their bathroom or to aid them with an activity in the bathroom I clean out the sink and remind them that they have a counter.

Can't put the towel back on the rack? Fine. Leave it on the counter.

Too lazy to put the brush back in the basket? Fine. Leave it on the counter.

Don't want to put the lid on the toothpaste? Fine. Just leave it on the counter.

I'm not terribly hard to please. I don't ask for perfection. I'm just tired of swapping out drippy towels for dry ones and think it's disgusting that they let the water they use to wash their potty hands run over the instruments they use to clean their teeth.

I have reminded of them of this kindly and daily since we've moved in here.

This morning I found the hand towel, covered in toothpaste spit, as well as all the toothbrushing equipment sitting in a soggy heap in the sink and I lost it. I grabbed their toothbrushes and strode into the living room, where the girls could see me from their perches at the breakfast table.

"Girls!" I snapped. They both jumped, which was somehow satisfying to my grumpy mood. "Where do your toothbrushes go?!"

"In the toothbrush holder," Rachel answered.

"That's right. Then why were they in the sink?!" I demanded.

"It was an accident," Rachel muttered.

"An...accident?!" I fumed. "How could it be an accident? Your toothbrushes, the toothpaste, and the towel were all hanging out in the sink together and you want me to believe that was an accident...again?!"

"Yeah, well...I can't reach to put the towel back and it fell down!" Rachel tried to defend herself. But I pulled out my big guns and pointed out that "We have a counter!"

It wasn't a pretty argument. Andrew did his best to cool me down without taking the girls' side or downplaying the "lesson" I was trying to teach them (because we seriously do have a counter).

I felt terrible after it happened. As proud as my grumpy self had been to "win" that fight, my real self (or what I like to think is my real self) was in agony.

My poor sweet girls guiltily gulped down their breakfast without meeting my eyes.

I sat, gently brushing Rachel's hair, while apologizing over and over again.

That's the terrible thing about doing things—they can't be undone! You have to just keep plodding forward, putting it behind you. When you do something awful, putting it behind you can be painful and messy. When you do something amazing, it can be difficult to want to let it go. But we have to. We have to let go of things—the bad and the good—and keep moving forward on to bigger and better things.

I pulled Rachel onto my lap for a snuggle before she left for school (running to catch the bus from our front door because something happened and either the bus came three minutes early or we were running three minutes late) and was sure to tell her that I loved her.

And when I heard the news today I was so glad that I did.

What if my last words to her had been along the lines of, "What do you mean it was an accident? I've told you a thousand times!" instead of "I love you; have a nice day"?

Even though the last words I said to her were kind words, I was dying inside thinking about the silly argument we'd had over a hand towel and the bathroom sink. I was dying inside to hold her tightly and whisper "I love you" a thousand times. I was dying inside for all the parents who sent their babies off to kindergarten today and who will never see them alive in this life time.

I had two kittens once—Midnight and Tango—and when one of them died I held the other and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and...I frankly can't remember who died first but...they were like, "What is wrong with you?"

And that's kind of how Rachel acted when I saw her after school.

I had been at the doctor with Benjamin and when Andrew pulled up in the van to pick me up I flung the sliding door open (and then impatiently stood there tapping my foot as it slid slowly open (it's automatic)) and looked at Rachel and said, "Oh, I love you!"

"I love you, too, Mommy," she answered robotically.

"No. I love you!" I said firmly.

"I know," she said quizzically and leaned forward to exchange kisses on the cheek.

I can't imagine living through the terror of today in Newtown, Connecticut. I can't imagine caring about soggy, toothpaste-y hand towels ever again because my baby girl walked off the school bus today with a smile on her face.

(That and according to Andrew I made such a scene that it's likely the girls will never put anything in the sink ever again. Sometimes when charity fails and the monster comes out the minions listen...)


  1. I totally throw fits sometimes, only it's usually addressed to the entire male population of this household. I see it as a necessary evil. I can complain, argue, reprimand, plead and nag, and usually all those things help, but the times they don't, a fit will make a lasting impression, and permanently put an end to wet towels in the sink/shoes in the living room/clothes on the bathroom floor... If what you said or the way you acted made you feel really bad, you can rehears a different diction for next time, that will still have the fit effect, but will not leave you feeling guilty.

  2. Jennifer...the entire male population of your household is everyone but YOU...just saying! :o)

    Nancy, I love YOU, just in case you need to know. I know I need to tell you so!