Beautifully Messy

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Time to tuck away another year of laminated construction paper books, Froot Loop mosaics, feathers matted down with too much glue to be considered feathers any longer, and the sweetest love notes I’ve ever received (Dere Mom, I miss you. I’ll see you after scool. Love, Noah). The keepsakes of another school year ended. Somehow, impossibly, it is here. Those challenging days that dragged on endlessly as I went through them (wasn’t it just January last week?) are nearly done.

I have circled in red the last day of school for the year and I know our summer will be filled with swimming, sand castles and visits to the zoo. I look forward to taking a hiatus from the relentless germs our children seem to collect like Lego pieces. I hug myself with Julie-Andrews-esque glee when I think about not packing lunches for three glorious months.

But I quickly forget it’s also the end of another precious year of my children’s ephemeral youth, and damn it! I’ve done it again. I’ve wished away these last few weeks rushing headlong to summer vacation. My mom is always warning me about that. “Don’t wish your life away,” she says, but I have. I forget to revel in the monotony because even that is a gift.

In my defense, we are crawling pathetically to the finish line. Both Noah and Luke have been sick this week with another nasty cold. I’ve all but marinated their bodies and painted our home in a mixture of Lysol and Thieves oil this cold and flu season. It is beyond reason that they are sick AGAIN, but here we are, two more days out of school! It’s been a rough year for the Torosian crew. Nothing more than your garden variety coughing, sneezing and G.I. illness, but still enough to leave me feeling a little frayed around the edges as we limp along. It’s easy to forget to be grateful even for the sickness as I scoop up another armful of snotty tissues or wash a set of sheets for the third time in a week.
Still, if I had to guess what God is trying to pound into my thick head, it’s not to take this beautifully messy life for granted.

Last night, Luke had gotten sick to his stomach from his incessant coughing. After I calmed him down and spread a towel out on the couch with a bowl next to his head, I asked him if he wanted me to sleep on the couch with him or would he sleep better if I went to my room. With his eyes closed and a peaceful smile on his lips, he said, “I don’t care. Your choice…Mom?”

“Yes, Luke.”

“Thanks for always taking care of me.”

And there it was. Along with an instant lump in my throat, my reminder not to rush through the grisly stuff. I’m blessed to be able to do it.

Summer vacation will be wonderful and it won’t be hard to remember to take mental pictures of the firefly nights, sticky with S’mores and scented with bonfire. But it’s just as important to tuck away these messy, less-than-ideal days. These are the ones that teach us more about ourselves and what we’re made of. They show us that despite the challenges the days can bring, our patience, our faith and our love are stronger. We’re not fair-weather-families. We are families who are close through the tough times, too. These are the lessons our kids will take with them as they grow up. Treasure it all.

I saved Noah’s charmingly imperfect booklet from his first grade poetry project and it will make me just as proud as his high school diploma. Is one more valuable than the other? To this mom, no! I love it all. We shouldn’t

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Noah showing his self-published book at the Poetry Cafe

underestimate the importance of modeling appreciation of every little thing our days bring us. Our kids are always watching us.

This is how they will persevere in life. They’ll watch us smile through the hard times and hopefully will see how we stayed positive through them. We didn’t complain or rush through the icky parts. We are grateful for it all.

Luke’s last day of kindergarten is tomorrow. Noah’s last day of first grade is next Thursday. I’m going to do my best to savor all of it until that last bell rings.