In the day-to-day grind of parenthood, there are moments of joy. There are tears. There are frustrations. There is happiness. There are snuggles aplenty.
There is endless love.
There is endless pride.
There are milestones.
A milestone can happen when you least expect it.
One minute your baby is crawling, the next minute he toddles across the floor.
One minute your 4-year old firmly relies on her training wheels to wheel her down the sidewalk, the next minute they are off, and she flies down the street confidently and steadily on her bike, with a, "Weeeeee!!! Look at me, Mommy!!!"
One minute your 8-year old struggles and struggles to hit the baseball, and the next minute, bat meets ball with a firm CRACK as the ball whooshes through the air into the outfield.
We had a milestone at our house recently.
A big one.
My boys are growing up. They are starting to see that in this family, we help each other out.
Mom and Dad do not live to serve them and their every whim.
This past Saturday, my 10-year old and 8-year old sons, my two oldest children, took one look at the fresh blanket of snow outside and decided that it was time to play.
"Moooooomm! Can we go outside?" they called to me from downstairs. Bill was off somewhere in the house doing typical Saturday morning cleaning, and I was folding laundry.
Because the laundry never ends.
I was feeling overwhelmed. Cranky. Annoyed. Why do kids get to have all the fun?
I want to play too.
I don't know what made me suggest what I suggested. Perhaps I was just fed up. I have never made this particular request before, but there is a first time for everything.
Saturday morning was time.
I stood at the top of the stairs and looked down at my two boys. "Sure! You can go outside, but only if you clean your bathroom first. Toilet included."
It was time for some good, old-fashioned bribery. You wanna play? You gotta pay.
I braced myself for complaints. Tears. Yelling. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. Calls of, "MOOOOOM! YOU'RE SOOOO UNFAIR!!!"
But the tears? They did not fall. The yelling? Was silenced. There was no wailing. No expensive dental work was gnashed.
They looked at me and simply said, "Okay Mom. Can you show us how?"
Yes, they have jobs around here like cleaning their bedroom, the playroom, and clearing the kitchen table and wiping it down, and the occasional vacuuming, but the bathrooms?
Why that wonderful little nugget of a job belongs to yours truly. (And occasionally Bill, lest I don't give the hubs full credit.)
But mostly me.
And I hate it.
The other bathrooms in our house I can deal with. But the jack-and-jill bathroom that sits in between the two bedrooms shared by my three little men? I have no words.
Actually, I take that back. I have words. But they are not pretty words.
Atrocious comes to mind.
The state of their bathroom most days of the week is just a skosh above a gas station bathroom.
Just a skosh.
"So Mom, what do we do first?" my 8-year old said as he snapped the yellow rubber gloves on his hand like a surgeon about to perform his first-ever splenectomy.
I am their Obi Wan.
"Well, first, clear all this stuff off your sink and put it in the drawers. Then, wipe all these globs of toothpaste off the sink and counters."
I stood there at watched my boys diligently scrub the sinks, and I waited for it. Because I knew it was coming. "MOM! This toothpaste is like IMPOSSIBLE to get off this sink! IMPOSSIBLE!"
Yes, I have gently used a putty knife for the job before. No, I was not about to suggest they use it, lest they scratch the surfaces.
Keep scrubbing with those washcloths, boys. And remember this golden A-HA! moment.
Toothpaste on the sinks and counters globs up and hardens and is difficult to remove.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Move along, because the toilet awaits, my cherubs.
"Make sure you wipe down the whole seat AND the floor underneath," I instructed when we moved onto the throne room.
"The floor?" one of my boys asked innocently.
The floor. Of course.
They don't even realize that their floor has become an extension of the toilet.
Lovable, little, oblivious scamps.
There was triumph and joy when the job was finished.
Mostly from me.
Because I? Am a genius.
I should have taught them this forever ago.
It is now Wednesday, and the bathroom is STILL clean.
Mostly. It's not like I would eat off the floors or anything, but you get the idea.
I am free of their bathroom.
What a milestone.