I walk past her bedroom, laundry basket in hand. Dozens, no, hundreds, of tiny items cascade across every square inch of the space. I sigh.
We just cleaned this yesterday. How does this happen so quickly?
I close the door, roll my eyes, and continue with my daily tasks.
Later that evening, I walk her up to bed, exhausted and desperate for the sweet hour of quiet adult time that awaits me after a long day. She’s tired too, and with that comes a slew of complaints and last-minute requests. As I promise to journey downstairs to retrieve a bandage and a specific baby doll, I step on something sharp. A Barbie heel tossed carelessly onto her carpet. I bite my lip in agony and hop my way through the debris to get her settled in bed. She requests to inspect my injury and asks if I, too, need a bandage from downstairs. My heart warms in my chest just a little. I make a promise to return after I say goodnight to her brothers, and she obliges with the final request of leaving her bedside lamp on.
Ten minutes later, I’ve settled two more little people for sleep. My Barbie heel wound is a distant memory. I make one more push up the stairs, bandage and baby doll in hand. I can feel her calm before I even reach the door. She lays there asleep, in a sea of coloring books and crayons. She’s the most chaotic, peaceful sleeper I’ve ever known. I lean my tired body against the door frame and soak her in for a few moments. She’s so beautiful. Sometimes it feels like if I take a very deep breath, I can keep a piece of her like this with me forever.
In the quiet, her room looks different. I don’t feel angry about the mess. I don’t feel the weight of needing to clean it up again. Instead, I notice the beauty. I see every hairbow she’s so carefully clipped to the hem of her curtains, displaying them in rainbow order. I see coloring pages thrown about. They’re only half-completed, but she’s written “MOM” on every single one. I see her little makeup kit lying open, and my mind flashes to watching her apply eye shadow for the very first time, glancing at me with so much pride. Her entire room is a disorderly piece of art.
I take another deep breath before turning off her light, looking at the little girl that hand-placed each and every one of these items where they lay. I can’t believe she’s mine. It’s funny how perspective can shift so dramatically over just a few minutes, and especially when admiring your sleeping child. At this moment, I feel no need to clean it all up. For now, my heart is filled with gratitude for this messy room.