January 20, 2006

Worth the Mess

5:15 a.m. I'm awakened by the sound of my youngest son coughing. He's coughing loudly, and can't stop. It's a painful sounding cough. In fact, it sounds like it stems from the same sore throat that I myself have had most of the week. My wife, who is also sick, gets out of bed to tend to him. They both return and crawl into bed, but by this time our other son has awakened. We take care of him and then go back to sleep.

6:15 a.m. The boys can't sleep any more. Go to the other end of the house, we tell them. And unlock the front door for Stephen and Spencer.

6:45 a.m. Stephen and Spencer arrive, as they do every morning. Instead of getting up and helping the kids get ready for school, I pull the covers over my head. Maybe I can just sleep until Saturday.

7:00 a.m. Stephen walks into our bedroom. "Do you guys have any ground meat?" "Look in the freezer," my wife mumbles.

7:20 a.m. I say to my wife, "Are you going to get the boys ready for school?" She says no, so it's up to me. I fumble through getting dressed, washing my face, and make my way down the hall. As I do, I notice a smell coming from the kitchen. I turn the corner at the end of the hall and I see:

a 16 year-old in an apron---yet another miracle in our house

And my first thought is, "Who's going to clean up the mess he's making? I know he's not, because he has to leave for school shortly." But I look again, and I see more than a messy kitchen. I see an act of love. I go get my wife out of bed ("Stephen made breakfast for us!"), and as we take our seats at the dining table and eat the breakfast that has been prepared for us, I smile, and say to myself, "You know, the mess really isn't all that big; and besides, this is worth the mess."

And then it strikes me that that's what parenting is like: It's a mess. But in the end, you realize, it was worth the mess, and that the mess wasn't really as bad as you thought it was.

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