Like every mother I know, I spend a lot of time trying to perfect everything in my life. I organize. I clean. I put things in their place.
I grimace when friends drop by unannounced to find a pile of laundry in the living room or a large mound of Play-Doh that has been crushed into the carpet beneath the kitchen table. At times I find myself scrubbing down the kitchen counters, which are never really all that dirty, instead of sitting down and playing a game with my daughter, or complaining to my best friend when I´m sick and run down, yet never taking the time to stop, get into bed, and rest.
At times I find myself as obsessive as Bree Van de Kamp, though I have to confess that I can´t remember the last time I polished the silverware or prepared homemade bread to give away to the new neighbors. (Okay, actually I´ve never prepared homemade bread, but you know what I mean).
Tonight I was browsing a bulletin board in which working mothers were giving tips on how they juggle their work and home life. This seems to be a constant struggle for all moms, those holding down a full time job with a company or within their home: We want to find balance, and yet if you do the math, balance is truly unattainable.
We want something that we can never have, and yet we spend so much time chasing it that sometimes we forget what is important.
One mother out of the group had a different attitude. Her advice? Don´t worry about the dust.
The tip really hit a chord with me. Sometimes I forget that life isn´t about getting it all done: It is really about finding the time to spend with the people that you love.
My daughter doesn´t care if there is dust on the TV, though she will point out a clump of cat hair if she finds it on the floor. My husband doesn´t care if my clothes are color coordinated in my closet or the junk drawer in the kitchen has been organized. And in reality, I love my daughter´s tiny little fingerprints on the mirrored closet door. They remind me that she is fascinated with staring in the mirror and making faces at her goofy, silly self, and that image always brings a smile to my face.
The lady´s advice reminded me of the essay written by Erma Bombeck entitled "If I Had to Live My Life Over." The lines always catch in my throat and make my breath stop for a moment.
Life is delicious.
Yet sometimes I need to stop and read this essay to remind myself of that fact.
When I reach the golden years and I´m looking back at my life, it isn´t the sparkling floor I´ll remember, but my daughter as she stood in front of that mirrored closet door and made goofy faces at herself.
And that´s what will make me smile.
So today I´ll share Erma´s poem in hopes that it will remind you of the important things in life. Take some time for yourself. Invite your friends over. Ignore the pile of toys in your living room.
And remember: Don´t worry about the dust.
IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER
by Erma Bombeck
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more “I love yous”.. more “I’m sorrys”.. but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…….look at it and really see it.. live it.. and never give it back.