My two youngest children are away at camp, and this reprieve from the usual melee that goes on at my house has allowed me to reflect on those things that kids do, and that use up equal measures of time and patience in ways you wouldn't realize unless you had kids, and then suddenly they were gone. Allow me to explain:
• Being grateful when I walk up the stairs to my house, and open that front door, arms laden with groceries, that I won't be accosted by stomping feet and grabbing hands who empty out select items in the grocery bag (cookies, fruit chews), without actually helping to put the groceries away. In fact, I find myself having to put away the opened bag of cookies from the family room about a half hour later. What a treat to walk in with groceries, carefully lay them on the kitchen table, and quietly and efficiently put them away, unfettered, and un-assaulted by comments like "Can you actually buy some good food the next time?"
• Doing laundry once a week and having it stay "done." No clean, folded shirts taken out of the basket just to be evaluated for "wear-ability" and then subsequently folded on the floor; no pants that need to be washed every day because they only fit properly right out of the dryer. No accusations from the 10 year old of "Who took my swimsuit?" (Because we all like to hide each other's swimwear just for something to do, and I'm pretty sure those trunks won't fit me anyway.)
• Getting up, having a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast and leaving for an appointment. Without having to stop to pull a moldy sandwich out of lunch bag to replace it with one which will likely face the same fate, search for the one white shirt for the choir dress rehearsal (really? They need a dress rehearsal?), break up a fight about who gets the last bit of "good" cereal, break up another just as annoying fight over who gets to pick the morning cartoon while studiously ignoring the silent glare of your husband as he insists you didn't tell him today was the day you needed him to put the kids on the bus and didn't he already take out the garbage and terrific I just got mold and sticky cereal stuck to my only clean blouse.
• Not acting as a go-between for doorbell rings and phone calls from your children's friends that they do or don't want to talk to or see, depending on their mood and active level of engagement on Minecraft or SuperMario. Not receiving withering glances or eye rolls when ultimately the decision to force them to engage (or not) is the wrong one.
• Not having to entertain the "leftover" child guest who would rather talk to you than play the aforementioned video games. Particularly when you work from home.
Sometimes absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Or at least the hearth to grow cleaner.
Follow Kathy Buckworth on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KathyBuckworth