It was a comment that stuck in my head like a song you hear at the grocery store—one you’d never play at home like the theme song for Titanic. Near, far, wherever you are you can’t get it out of your head.
We were eating dinner and one of the boys asked me what I’d done that day. “Clean the house,” I said.
“Nice,” they replied in unison.
It was a rote response. They weren’t saying it looked nice. It was simply an acknowledgment that I’d spoken. Shaking my head I laughed. Before I could tell them what was funny one of them changed the subject.
I let it go. Dinner didn’t need to be ruined by a guilt trip from me. I was frustrated though. How is it that when the soap scum, toothpaste, and fingerprints mysteriously disappear they don’t notice. Or when the wastebasket overflowing with trash is suddenly empty they can’t tell. It’s mind boggling.
My sweetie would say the house is always so neat and clean they can’t tell the difference. That’s simply not true. It’s not ALWAYS clean. That’s not possible with two teenage boys that leave a bigger carbon footprint than an SUV.
Flash forward a couple weeks and I was back at it—cleaning their bathroom. Feeling uninspired by a task I assumed would go unnoticed again. Granted this is something I should have them do, but I value preserving the finishes in the house more than their labor. There are lots of other things they do that don’t involve cleaning products. Mow, rake, set the table, clear the table, etc.
The more I scrubbed the madder I got. That meant the bathroom was cleaner than ever. I was like a white tornado sweeping through. I had so much momentum going I didn’t even see the penny lying on Luke’s bedroom floor. I had to step on it to find it.
When I crouched down to pick it up I heard the voice in my head, I attribute to the Holy Spirit say, “They aren’t ungrateful they’re just distracted. Stop stewing about it and remind them.”
No, I thought. I prefer being angry about it. “No,” the voice responded. “Remind them.”
Since the voice ceased to be a passing thought, with penny in hand I went to the computer and wrote them a note. I tried not to make it too preachy. That never works.
When Luke came home from tennis he noticed it right away. I was in the kitchen and heard his bag drop, his size 13 feet come flying down the stairs and when I turned around he hugged me and said,
“Thank you very much Mom.”
Chase heard the commotion and came upstairs. “What’s going on,” he asked.
“Go upstairs and read the note,” insisted Luke.
“You’ll see,” Luke said pointing the way.
A minute later Chase was back in the kitchen offering his thanks. They both looked a little sheepish.
“I would just like to be noticed,” I said. “I’d like you to SEE what’s right in front of you.”
Luke the older of the two spoke first on their behalf, “We do Mom. We just forget to tell you.”
Flash forward another two weeks. Luke comes home from working out, goes to his room, notices the sparkling clean mirror in the bathroom reflecting back at him and calls down to me,
“Mom, thanks for cleaning. Everything looks really nice.”
“You’re welcome,” I said. “Thanks for noticing.”
Later I heard him mention it to Chase who then made a point to stop what he was doing and thank me.
Lesson learned it seemed, but what about me?
Every day I wake up to a beautiful sunrise over the Mesa. Light shines through the darkness so that I can see. Water from the mighty Colorado River waters my lawn. Birds feast at my feeder like I do at my table which has somehow never run out of food.
God’s presence and provision are everywhere in my life. But, like my own children I take it for granted. I’m not ungrateful I’m just accustomed to it. So much so, I forget to thank the hands that make it possible.
Thank you Lord.