Written Wednesday, August 7th, 2019:
Today we cleaned the kids’s bedrooms. We spent most of the day and it was really the only thing we – I – wanted to get done. James worked on his own with a list of things to accomplish and did a pretty good job I must say. I helped Anna most of the day because she had more work to do. We sorted and organized almost every. single. thing in her room.
At the end of the day I asked how she felt about her clean room and she said she was sad. Sad that everything was put away and she couldn’t see it or find anything now. Oh my.
We’ve talked about how James and myself are more similar – we prefer things neat and tidy, and Anna and Kenny prefer things out in the open where they can see where everything is. But I’ve never before heard Anna voice being sad because everything was cleaned up.
All evening I’ve thought about that – during our fun dinner and movie night – our reward for a hard day’s work. I felt awful that she was so sad while I was so happy. At bedtime I laid on her bed to talk – something she always wants me to do but there’s never room for me with all of her clothes and toys on the end of the bed. I told her that I was sorry she was sad about her room. And she said, “Why?” I replied, “Because I’m the one who wanted you to clean your room and now you can’t find anything.” Sweet girl proceeded to tell me all the reasons why it was good that she learns to clean her room – so we can walk through and not hurt ourselves or break anything, so she knows how to clean up for when she’s an adult, etc. She started looking around her room and then said, “And I do like that I have more room in here to play, and I can find all my books, and my dresser is cleaned off. Actually, I do kind of like it and it makes me happy.”
Oh Anna girl. We’re learning together, you and I. Thank you for teaching me my way isn’t always the right way. I’m learning to let go with Anna’s room – she tidies a few times a week, we clean it really well several times a year, and the rest of the time, I’m learning to let it go. I don’t want her memories of me to primarily be about cleaning her room. There’s so much more to life than a clean room.
It’s been a few days now since we cleaned Anna’s room and I’ve seen a change in her. She’s enjoying it clean and is working so hard to keep it that way – making her bed everyday, picking up regularly. One day, though, she read the entire rest time instead of playing. When I asked her about it, she said she wanted to play but didn’t want to pick up afterwards so decided to just read. We had a long talk about not giving up her playing – that’s still so much more important than a clean room. James overheard us and offered his suggestion of what he does: after he plays with legos, he puts the legos away before getting out hot wheels. After he’s finished with hot wheels he puts them away before getting out a book. I was so thankful for his sweet words offered in brotherly love – Anna looks up to him so much.
I’m thankful for Anna and her sweet personality that’s so different from mine. I’m thankful for her seven year old wisdom that challenges me and makes me a better person. I pray that in the coming weeks Anna finds a balance between playing and cleaning up that’s just right for her.