It has been a very emotional day. It's never what anyone would call "easy" having my husband gone, but for the second year in a row, he is gone for Valentine's Day/Jamie's birthday. When she was younger, this wouldn't have been a big deal, but now she is old enough to feel the absence and really miss having her dad around for the "big" days. All of that kind of came to a head about half an hour after she talked to her dad on the phone--I guess it made her realize 'for real' that he wasn't here and that he wouldn't be here tomorrow either. Whatever the reason, we had a meltdown that left us both in tears. Plus, I won't lie; I'm a hopeless romantic who is married to someone who is hopelessly un-romantic, and yeah ... I need to let go of the expectations, *especially* when he's out of the country for the one holiday of the year that celebrates romantic love. Let's just say I'm emotional today and get on with it, shall we? Thanks.
I have a nightly routine of de-stressing in a hot bath. I've done it for the last ... uh, almost seven and a half years. I don't need a whole bunch of "me time", I don't really enjoy "going out with the girls", I'm really just a homebody type who only needs a few minutes of peace, quiet, and steam mixed with bubbles to sit and, well, stew. Today, I **REALLY** needed it. So, after I'd finally calmed everyone down from the multitude of meltdowns, put everyone to bed, and fed the critters, I just left the dinner dishes sitting in the kitchen and retreated to my happy place. Grabbing a towel and the first washcloth I could dig out from under the cat that was asleep in the linen closet, I headed toward the bathtub and jumped into my steaming cauldron of bubbles. Unfolding the washcloth to drape across my face, I realized that I had grabbed not a "plush", matches-the-towels washcloth, but rather a ten-for-five-bucks cheapo dishrag. Ooops. And it wasn't exactly what we would call "clean", either. Well, okay, clean? Yes, it had been washed. But definitely stained. Badly. See?
It's kind of every color in the rainbow. In fact, this was the rag I'd used several months ago to clean up the girls after they'd had a rather spirited paint-fight in the backyard while painting rainbows and pretty fall trees to hang on the refrigerator for decoration. And it's ROUGH on the face, I'll tell you that much. I should probably just throw it away, right?
Um, NO. In fact, after my time sitting and stewing in the tub tonight and having time to contemplate, meditate, ruminate, and pray, I have come to the conclusion that this very rag is going to be washed, dried, and put up in my closet with a note to myself to realize that the messes in my life are the very thing that MAKE my life. I was practically moved to tears with that rag up to my face tonight, realizing what those stains mean to me. In that messy rag I can see all the green my Shelby used to paint her green rainbow so her turtles felt at home. I see the little dots from Danica's brush and know that she doesn't like to water her paint down; she prefers to "dry" the brush off instead of rinse. I remember that Jamie made very little mess at all, because she was too busy making sure that everything was perfect to bother with the business of being messy. I notice all of the pink on the rag and remember how Morgan tried to paint her nails with it ... and failed miserably, with half of that paint winding up on her face. And when I look at the gray that seems to overtake the rag, I can remember very fondly how Kasey wanted to combine all of the colors to be more effective.
Those aren't stains; they're memories. Why would I *ever* want to throw that away? Why on earth would I want to trade in all of the bad days, that were still chock full of wonderful, messy memories, to replace them with pretty, clean, well-put-together "good" memories?
The "bad" portions of life aren't something we need to forget; they aren't stained rags that we need to hide from the world and toss in the trash because we are embarrassed by them. Those stains, those hard times, those sins that have been forgiven and washed clean are all what make us who we are. No, we shouldn't be "proud" of the stains and the messy portions of our lives, but we can certainly celebrate the masterpiece that was created while the mess was being made. If we can't do that, isn't our entire life just a worthless, dirty rag?
What a shame that would be.