I messed up. I knew to stop. And I didn’t. I just had to keep going.

Yesterday Husband came home early to lime, sow, and fertilize the pasture. I knew he’d be coming home early. I had a list of things I really wanted to accomplish for the day prior to his arrival. I wanted to watch him ride the tractor and make a good Monday Night Football spread. I wanted to show him thanks for his daily work plus the extra work of caring for the horses.

Towards the end of the children’s Quiet Time, I went online to try and figure out how to download free public domain classical music for our classical music study. That led to Tim Hawkins videos with the kids. And then of course, facebook. Next thing I knew, it was about 330p and I had not touched the bathrooms…I’d originally thought I’d do them during Quiet Time.

So, I grabbed the cleaning bucket-like thingie and donned blue non-latex gloves and started scrubbing sinks, toilets, showers, tubs. I did get carried away in a few spots like pulling out the little water-stopper-upper thingies and scrubbing them to a sparkle and then taking apart the faucets where the little screen-y thingie is to scrub it. Not sure why, but I did. But wow… five clean bathrooms. And I do mean clean.

Husband was still out on the tractor and the kids, who had not completed lessons nor pretty much listened to anything I said past 1130a (surely due to my lack of direction), were out on the playset having a large time. It was nearly dark and I had one thing I wanted to finish. I wanted to vacuum the master bedroom and then our suite would be clean and neat and back where it had not been in a week since I failed to remember vacuum bags. So I vacuumed. And then…

And then I thought, “hey! I’ll vacuum the girls’ room. It looks like just clothes on the floor, I’ll just make a pile and then move it as I need to.” Well, that was somewhat the beginning of the end. No. There wasn’t just clothes on the floor. There was shredded-by-hand paper scattered under the layer of clothes. There were the Ferbies (colored pencils) scattered under the deck, despite many pleas not to let them leave the lesson area. There was a hotwheels plastic container with the little hotwheels wells filled with water. There was a stack of saltines barely recognizeable for their crushed and mushed state. And then I looked under the bed. Never look under a bed at 5 o’clock in the evening.

Under the bed were survivor jackets that didn’t even belong to the room’s two inhabitants. There was a stool with a child’s name on it that does not live in that room. There were pieces of who knows what puzzle(s). There were three shriveled apple cores.

Under.The.Bed.Of.A.Child.Who.Will.Swear.She.Does.Not.Eat.Apples. There was more and more and more paper. There were more and more and more pencils. And there was at least 50% of the teeny tiny foamy pellet thingies that go inside wrap-around-the-neck travel pillows.

I did not yell. I did not curse. I did not even speak. I did not call the children in. It was dark outside. I could hear them joyfully playing with Husband on the deck. I did not do anything. I sat. I sat in the middle of this disaster of a space which was completely cleaned and detoxed less than two weeks ago and I cried.

I bawled. Not loudly. Not for anyone to hear. But quietly with tears streaming down my face. I cried  because I have failed my child somehow. I have failed her so deeply that she has no respect for me, for her father, for the work that provides the space for her, or even for her own things. I cried because the wee-est one is soaking up how to treat a room like this. I am failing her, too.

So I began to clean. Quietly. Tearfully.

After that room I went upstairs to the boys’ room. It really wasn’t so bad. Mostly LEGOs and air soft pellets. If there were ever a case against air soft guns, it wouldn’t be the guns. They will be used against others. I am certain that every target labeled Kelly Mae, Rebekah Anne, Sawyer, and even Laura Lea has been hit. I am certain. But that isn’t even the case against them. It is the pellets. Those damn pellets. They just roll, roll, roll. Sweeping doesn’t work. Vacuuming doesn’t work. A shop-vac would work. But that was all the way outside the bottom floor door and would have to be swept and such  before I allowed it in the house. Nope. I’ll vacuum in vain. I had the energy.

I went army style on my belly under that bed and picked up, oh, I don’t know, maybe 2000 LEGOs. I threw away trash. Are my kids hoarders? At some point in the process of working on that room, my eldest daughter came upstairs and played, “My Favorite Things” and “Ode to Joy” over and over and over again on the piano. I know she was playing it for me. I thanked her.

I picked up who knows how many pieces of crap from football games, air shows, casinos, etc. I don’t know. I know that when I finished with that room I had three and one-half full size grocery bags filled. This room was spit-shined by me and eldest within the last month. And the children were in the basement on the wii.

It was 730p. No one had asked for dinner. No one had asked when dinner would be. No one had asked if we were going to have dinner. In fact, no one had spoken a word to me. Nor me to them. Except for thanking my pianist. I did not scowl at them. I did not yell. I did not stomp. I was even past crying at this point. And so I went to the third room. The only room with a single person responsible for her own messes.

And it was easy. I did fill the last half of that fourth bag. Again with mostly paper. But it was easy. And quick. By a little after 8p, all of the bedrooms in our home were clean. At the same time.

I called the kids up from the basement and in from the football game. They ate peanut butter and grape jam sandwiches. With celery and water. I didn’t say much. I didn’t complain. I didn’t fuss. I didn’t even admonish in any way. They knew. Not only did they understand about the rooms, they were grateful for the food. In fact, I think it was the first time in my parenting that a child was grateful for a PB&J. They ate, groomed, and went to bed.

After cleaning up the kitchen for the day, setting up the coffee, setting out the supplements, and running one last load of blankets recovered from bedrooms, I showered. And crawled into bed. I was tired. But I was more than anything sad. Tears were flwing again as I thought about how horrible the clean rooms were.

Yes, our home had clean bedrooms. But it wasn’t a home right then. It was just a house. All evening I had ignored what makes it a home – our family.

The wise woman would have seen that the day had escaped her (by her own fault) and would have bagged any attempt to clean bathrooms. Just push them to tomorrow’s list. And then go about the business of making dinner, tidying the house, and preparing for Monday Night Football. I wasn’t wise. I failed.

I failed at the beginning of the day. I failed when I made a list rather than a plan. I knew Husband was going to be home early. I knew it was Monday Night Football. I knew these things. And yet, I failed at all of them. Even the rooms are failures. I cleaned them. The kids should have.

So I have to look for the good in the experience and learn from the failure and understand how I can improve. The good is that I never raised my voice or said anything for which I must apologize. That’s a big deal for me. I was measured in my words. I was not measured in my actions.

I should have stopped. I should have stopped before I started. I need a plan, not a list. And I need to watch the time. And when Husband is coming home to do something special for me (sow the pasture that we have  because I wanted horses), I need to make even more effort to thank him by truly stopping and being with him. And feeding him. His heart and his stomach. I understand what I should do. I will work harder and more earnestly to keep my eye on the prize and follow through. I messed up and I am sorry.