After church Clay and I were chatting with a friend. We were talking about a party we’d been to the week before, telling him about who was there, the scope of it, and how the boys had handled it.
“Really,” Clay said, “they were pretty good. There wasn’t anything for them to do, but they behaved alright.”
“Well,” said the other gentleman, reaching over to squeeze my arm, “that’s because they’re parented well.”
I laughed, my eyes fixed on Raphael, who was trying to squeeze behind a row of chairs, attempting to fit his melon of a head in a lemon sized space.
“Thanks. I’m afraid I’m always watching for behavior that needs to be addressed, so I miss the good stuff.”
This evening some friends dropped by. I was in the garden, studying the cantaloupe vines and trying to guess when one particularly plump bell pepper would be completely orange and ready to eat. Tracey made her way out to say hi while her husband Richard stayed behind to talk to Clay. I gave her the tour of my garden, biting back every other apology for its disheveled state.
“Sorry, it’s a mess. I’m so behind on the weeding…would you like some tomatoes?”
She admired every plant, even after she realized we were standing far closer to three beehives than she had realized. And every time I apologized she graciously waived away my concerns.
Soon we were all standing in the yard. Tracey and Richard’s little girls gingerly tossed balls for Carmi. Richard and Clay talked about lawns and water usage. I looked at Tracey, tomatoes cradled in one hand, the other clutching a small spray of lavender from the side of the house. I was busy chastising myself for the state of the yard, and worse still, the state of the house. Things were worse than usual in there, a chaotic mix of Sunday mess and pre-school year piles of stuff.
In case you’re wondering, I’m not exaggerating. It wasn’t a bit untidy, it was embarrassing.
But as I stood there, in the afternoon sunlight, I decided to shift my attention. I shoved away the wince at the thought of the mess. I looked instead at the tomatoes, glowing red in the green of the back yard, at the little girls, prancing around my foolishly pleased dog. I smelled the lavender and listened to dear friends chatting in my messy home.
I don’t want to miss the good stuff.