There was a time when quiet was all I had. The place where I hung my hat was spotless. Everything had a place and was in its place. My fortress was well-provisioned and ready to stand bold against any natural disaster, civil malfeasance, or unforeseen catastrophe. I’ve been accused at times of being obsessively clean and organized, typically by less disciplined curmudgeons that insist on a spotless and detailed presentation when visiting a hotel, restaurant, or supermarket but lack the gumption to reach that same high standard in their own domain. I flourish best in a neat and clean home, truck, and workplace, and I don’t mind using a little elbow grease to achieve and maintain that.
Children, by nature, are not orderly, considerate, or responsible. Their job, it would seem, is to be messy, disorganized, and do illogical things like picking their noses with no forethought of where their treasure might go once liberated. Any nearby surface may fall victim, be it a car seat, a pillow, garment, or treasured object. And the same short-sightedness, I’ve observed, is the cornerstone by which most of their decisions are made.
With three of them working passionately from bell to bell at being kids, and me offering little more than a beleagured spattering of lightly-sifted effort to stay ahead of the daily onslaught; our precious cherubs have succeeded at dominating the ambiance of all we hold dear. Ours is a neat and clean home, but like the wind-whipped Sahara, the landscape can evolve dramatically throughout the day.
To call it a defeat would indicate a contentious spirit felt toward the tender souls God has bestowed on us. It’s not like that at all. I prefer to consider it a course in humility. I have relinquished absolute control of my environment to accommodate the development of my children as they grow and blossom.
But there are times when the batteries run low and I could use a minute or two of solace to gather my thoughts rather than express them. At those times I daydream of crisply folded clothes, perfectly squared stacks of fluffy clean towels, gleaming kitchen floors, and spotless countertops with everything in its place.
The beach is my favorite spot to decompress and recharge, and as I stood there yesterday pondering the beauty of God’s creation, a truth filled my heart.
I saw the ocean churning and building into thunderous waves that crashed onto the shore with a mighty force that tossed mountains of sand and all manner of things onto the beach, only to retreat and take part of the coastline with it. There were clouds billowing violently, torn by the winds and painted by a burst of fiery colors as the sun passed through only to drown raggedly into the horizon. It was unpredictable, wild, and chaotic. And it was breathtaking.
And then it hit me. Amidst the disorder, emotions, mayhem, and chaos that Cadence, Emma, and Cole bring to each day, I have been blessed with the unconditional love and loyalty of my children. They hold nothing back be it alligator tears, the cutest belly laughs, or excited hugs and kisses when I come home. I have been granted three lives to shape, protect, strengthen, and love. Tiny hand marks, scattered toys, unidentified stains, and dried boogers are simply reminders, but not of what’s been lost. They are reminders of the treasure and honor I have been given to be their father.
And that is everything a man could ask for.