The past several days in the kitchen has left me scrambling for substitutions: applesauce for oil, honey for sugar, and a knock on the neighbor’s door for an egg. I am out of milk too, so my mind wanders off to a country home with a goat in the pasture. “Yes, then I’d always have milk…” But then I remind myself that I’d probably be out of feed for the goat too.
While they are good in the kitchen, substitutions are not fitting for the task of raising children: full-time daycare in exchange for mom, “quality” time for quantity time, and regular drive-thru trips in place of lingering around the table at home. I was reminded of this fact by two things. The first was that I just finished reading Home by Choice, a book extolling the research on the significance of mothers raising their own children. It is a sad commentary that a book like that must be written, but today’s modern culture demands it.
The second reason I was pondering this idea was that I daily engage myself in the battle of… The Mess. With a houseful of children underfoot all day, the second law of thermodynamics is readily in effect all day long: Energy spontaneously tends to flow from being concentrated in one place to becoming diffused or dispersed and spread out. In other words, the house deteriorates all day long. The train mess in the living room diffuses to the hall and morphs into a greater mess on the floor in the kitchen. And then you find a train track in the dryer days later. If my husband were here to ask, he’d probably tell me that this isn’t the truest meaning of the law, but nonetheless, I think it’s an application a mother can put her brain around. Similarly, the first law of thermodynamics states that you can’t destroy energy. Any mother of a boy already knows this.
But I digress. Time is the only thing I have with my children. The Battle of the Mess will go away, and I will wish for it when I am old. (So the aged women counsel me.) There are no substitutions for time with my children. This morning while the older three were on break from school, they found a snail to rescue from the monsoon pouring outside. They made a home for him. They punched holes in his home so he could breathe, and gathered wet leaves so he could eat. They have given him the name, “Mr. Snail”, and they asked if he can sleep in the guest room.
For now, the Battle of the Mess will wait. I will sign off and find an extra good spot for Mr. Snail in the guest room.
Preferably a place where he can’t escape.
* Postscript: If you tell the kids that lunch will be served after clean up, your house will look spic-and-span in five minutes flat. It just won’t stay that way…