I’ve discovered this totally awesome thing about dirt: it doesn’t age. Better yet, most of it doesn’t mold, spoil, or flit away on other errands. Once it lands someplace, it pretty much stays put without even a “pretty please.”
Dirt rocks. Because I can totally ignore it, and it’s not the least bit offended.
Here I’ve spent the past four years of Little Friend’s life anxious about whether or not I’ve given the dirt in my house enough attention. I didn’t want to hurt the dirt’s feelings if I played too much with the new baby. I didn’t want to miss out on any new things the dirt might be doing while I was preoccupied with dirty diapers and teething drool and tickly tummies. I didn’t, under any circumstances, want to give my poor dirt an inferiority complex.
So I felt guilty all the time. If I was playing with the baby, I wasn’t cleaning up the dirt. If I was cleaning up the dirt, I wasn’t playing with the baby. I just couldn’t find the perfect balance of happy for all of us: me, the baby, the dirt.
And then something unexpectedly amazing happened: The baby changed into a kid. And the dirt stayed…dirt.
Yeah. Dirt pretty much rocks.
The dirt in my house looks just like it looked yesterday. And four years ago. In fact, when I’ve put forth effort and whisked it away, it always comes right back home like faithful old Lassie. It hasn’t learned any new words, given me hugs lately, or brought me gifts of dandelion flowers. It’s just biding its good old time waiting–stolidly, messily waiting–for me to turn my attention back to it.
I plan on giving my dirt attention in, oh, five more years.
That whole “cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow / for babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow” thing? I feel a thrill of freedom when I declare that my cleaning and scrubbing will officially wait for many, many tomorrows.
For now, I’ll clean house enough to be livable. To be hospitable. But as soon as I hit the bare minimum of happy and welcoming in my house, the rest of that dirt can just snuggle in and make itself cozy for the long haul. I’ll reaquaint myself with it some day when the echoes of little feet running to catch the school bus fade from my front porch.
Maybe then, and only then, will I finally get to the small handprint smudges on doors. Then again, I know something about dirt–it will stay around for awhile. And I know a thing or two about those little hands–they won’t. So maybe even later, the dirty handprints will be the first thing to welcome you at my front door.