Leftovers :: Scars, Party Napkins, and Other Remains

Leftovers :: Scars, Party Napkins, and Other Remains | Houston Moms Blog

I try not to take it personally—I’m not known for my cooking prowess or adventurous nature in the kitchen.

It’s certainly not why he married me.

But as my children leave half of their lovingly prepared breakfast {a feast of scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, and assorted fruit–the extent of my powers}, they don’t give one precious thought as to the love it took to break that egg, frost those buns, and pick out the least squishy blueberries.

I think about fussing. Reminding them that we DON’T WASTE FOOD IN THIS FAMILY, KID, and other impressive things I typically throw out in the presence of unrelated guests or restaurant gawkers.

At the very least, I should put those little hands to work, scraping the burnt egg off the pan. They’ve had enough practice removing dried out play-doh from various appliances. 

But this isn’t going to be the battle I choose today. It’s way too early for such a defeat. And my reflexes and comebacks are more impressive after my second latte. 

Instead, I let them go. It’s 9:30 AM and the sun is calling. I’ll let nature babysit for awhile. 

I reach into the tupperware drawer. Because this kind of clean up requires a lid. And I’ve learned to not dread the parts that they leave behind. 

The leftovers. Food or otherwise. 

Leftovers :: Scars, Party Napkins, and Other Remains | Houston Moms Blog

They spend the next few hours in and out of the house. Occasionally, running into their playroom to continue the never-ending battle between the Paw Patrol pups and a random assortment of Little People {why do we own seven Rapunzels!?}. Dad offers to take them on a bike ride and I volunteer to stay behind and make sense of the playroom slaughter.

I look in the room. I attempt to make a plan. Do I pick up the six large Transformers and place them in their box or would it feel more satisfying to throw 15,000 legos in one well-trained swoop? Does their arsenal of Peppa Pig merchandise deserve its own storage or can we still manage to make it work with the basket normally reserved for My Little Ponies?

I locate a puzzle on the art table. I take an embarrassingly long amount of time to put it back together and place it on the appropriate shelf.

I live off of that satisfaction for at least two minutes.

I look around this room that they have brought to life. Through the clutter, I allow a smile, as I look at what’s in front of me. 

The leftovers. 

The remains show me that they were playing and imaging together. Sometimes, a rare occurrence among siblings. But one that is clearly evident with the different size legos used to build their forts {my youngest doesn’t shine with the smaller blocks}. They’ve also built two houses facing each other. Neighbors. 

There are scattered crayons and paper, of course. I can see where my oldest was going with his picture, although my arms aren’t that long and I’ve never worn a purple and red polka-dotted crop top without pants. I can tell that was the only way he could get his mom stick figure to hug the kid stick figures. Her smile, so big it falls out of the lines. Lopsided hearts surround her.

I love the way he sees me. 

I add a few tear marks. 

I can even tell who won the latest round of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Because I know their favorite colors; and Red did not play around. I also know, because his sister still struggles with this game, that he let her win. Because sometimes, big brothers DO adore their little sisters. Just not when other people can see. 

And I know exactly which child played with the cars last, due to their color-coded line up and perfect placement. And I know he gets that from his dad. 

I take a moment to marvel at their minds. 

Then I clutch the picture my son drew and decide I’ll challenge my daughter (the reigning champ) to Hungry Hungry Hippos this evening. I’m thankful for what was left behind; a glimpse into their world when I’m not around to organize or plan for them. The leftovers of an adventure or two. 

Leftovers :: Scars, Party Napkins, and Other Remains | Houston Moms Blog

We have a birthday party in the afternoon. By the grace of God they have both been invited to this one and I don’t have to bribe the other one to stay behind. We arrive at the indoor gymnasium, pink streamers and confetti balloons on point, and I plead with my children to greet the host and stash their shoes before heading off to the trampolines. 

It’s a typical 5 year old party, following the same blessed timeline :: play, sing, cake, leave. As my children start putting their shoes back on and looking through their goody bags, I help gather up loose items and put away our mess. I want to do more. But I barely know the broad and she seems to have an entire gaggle of family members to help gather the necessities {presents} and trash {15 unfinished pizza slices and an assortment of straws}.

Still, I look at her. And I know exactly what she sees as she looks around at the conclusion of the party. 

The leftovers. 

Her exhausted, albeit extremely happy, daughter. The grand accumulation of shared joy, unplanned laughter, and mismatched napkins (once all lavender, now coated with rainbow frosting). The exhaustion from dealing with a well-attended spectacle {which she prayed for} to celebrate the person that means more to her than anything :: her child. It’s the reminder that her baby is getting older and smarter and one day, she won’t be the first person on the guest list. 

But she was the hero today. And as her daughter runs up and throws her arms wide for another hug, she smiles brightly and obliges. Then reaches for a napkin to wipe the leftover cake from her daughter’s lip.  

I’m sure there were moments of frustration and worry :: How many cupcakes are enough? What if no one shows up? Do I need to watch every moment so no one gets hurt? What if I did too much? What if I did too little?  

But after it’s all done and clean up commences, what’s really leftover is the peace you feel, your child’s gratitude, and the relief that all is well and all is over and you don’t have to fill another helium balloon for at least a year. 

Leftovers :: Scars, Party Napkins, and Other Remains | Houston Moms Blog

After we have said our good-byes, we head home.

Time for dinner, a bath, a story or ten.

Unfortunately, the sun is being rude and decides to stay up for as long as possible. The kids notice and rage. But we’ve been parents for almost six years and aren’t easily distracted. Plus, we’re on the last season of Schitt’s Creek and that demands attention. 

We divide and conquer; my husband takes our curly-haired daughter and I’m left to stare down our defiant son.

I finally get him into his bed. He’s promised an endless supply of cuddles, back scratches, and star-gazing.

I finish the second book. 

He’ll stalling. He’s thirsty, no wait, now he needs to pee. AND… Have I checked for monsters? Why do I get to sleep next to daddy and not him? Also, maybe we could read just one more story because we haven’t read The Lorax in sooooo long and wouldn’t it be nice to read it again tonight? Huh, mom!?

I lay back down. His arm reaches across awkwardly in an attempt to either bring me closer or keep me from escaping. Either way, I have no intention of leaving. Not, yet. 

I ask him about his day. He lights up. Talks nonstop for about ten minutes. Then passes out before he’s finished telling me about the second piece of cake he ate at the party. 

I wait the appropriate amount of time before slinking out of bed and replacing my body with an oversized shark we bought from Ikea. Basically, same.

I stare down, hesitant to go, now that I see what I’m creeping away from. 

The leftovers. 

Soft snores that end abruptly. A little drool on his hand. An exposed leg dangling out of a green blanket. Wet hair clinging to a Transformer pillow. 

There’s a little paint on his right temple–missed in the tub. 

Another blue spot by his knee.

He wants to be an artist when he grows up. So, I suppose this is a look he will wear to bed fairly often. He’s dashing in blue.

There’s a bruise on his knee; visible only by the closet light. The remains of a short game of Tag with his father. He will speak of his victory for days to come. 

On his bedside table, a peacock feather. Found in our backyard, earlier today. He has plans to put it on a hat.

Now I have to buy a hat.

It was a long, wonderful day and that’s apparent by his slumber. Gone is the rambunctious child tumbling down a trampoline mat and chasing squirrels. 

What’s leftover is this gentle soul. Falling into blue-hued dreams. 

Leftovers :: Scars, Party Napkins, and Other Remains | Houston Moms Blog

It’s too close to midnight and I’m finally stepping out of the tub. 

The house is quiet. The lavender diffused from my bath still fills up the room and calms me. 

There’s moonlight. Always a plus. 

I lather my face with something pretty I found on sale at Target; it promises to hide wrinkles and disguise those suitcases under my eyes. 

I rinse it off. 

I glance in the mirror. I feel it before I see it. 

The leftovers. 

I stare at the body that didn’t believe it could ever carry a child, but has fought for the scars it now bears. My favorite, the one I call Ms. Monroe, sits on the lowest part of my belly. I gently trace the shallow line that was leftover from the miracle that produced my son. Then my daughter. 

My face has changed, because that’s what faces do. The wrinkles are new, but that’s what’s leftover after a few too many hard laughs. And constant smiling. A side-effect of small children. And a husband that can actually pull off a dad joke. 

I look closer and see tiny smudges of mascara leftover, even after scrubbing. Reminding me that today I wore makeup, a strange occurrence, and I felt pretty. There’s a nice curl through my hair; leftover from an intense braiding session with my daughter. It’ll be perfect for brunch with a friend tomorrow.

I don’t love everything I see, everything that is leftover from leading a full life with my family. For getting older. For giving up on some things. 

There’s a process with that, but I’m learning to embrace it all. 

Some days, that’s exciting. 

Some days, it’s overwhelming. 

Every day, I get to make a decision. 

Leftovers :: Scars, Party Napkins, and Other Remains | Houston Moms Blog

Today, there is a new brush burn. A slight dip on the scale. 

Leftovers from the choices I made. Good ones, I think. 

And as I’m turning away from the mirror, I catch a bit of blue paint right below my hair line. My own little mark, perfectly mirroring my son’s.

It’s my favorite leftover from the day. 

I decide not to scrub it off; it’ll give us something to laugh about over those reheated eggs in the morning.

Leftovers :: Scars, Party Napkins, and Other Remains | Houston Moms Blog

 


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Britany is currently lost in Houston, but not worried because she brought plenty of snacks. An avid traveler with a wild, squishy heart--she birthed one baby in New Orleans, the other, in Amsterdam. She recently bought a dog, named him Dragon, and brags to strangers about it. In a former life, she owned a wedding planning business; misses the free cake, the most. When she isn’t avoiding cooking AT ALL COSTS, she is trying to squeeze out some good words, hoping to make a living by using her imagination and pen to scare children (the next great kidlit series, they say). She prefers her drinks dirty. Is anxious. Kind of wishes it was Halloween. And will likely hug you a beat too long and make it weird.

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