Once upon a time, I had three little kids, ages 5, 3, and 1. I also had a dining room that was carpeted and a tiny galley kitchen that was too small to eat in. My mother came over one day, and for some reason, asked where my vacuum went. The vacuum that stood proudly in the corner of the dining room.
“Where does it go?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” I responded, confused.
“Where do you put it away when you’re not using it?” she clarified.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying…away…not using…what?”
One kid and a few houses later, and I should be able to put my vacuum away. Yet I don’t. You can come over and find it parked somewhere, still plugged in, ready to be used in a heartbeat. Oh sure, I can say it’s because the one dog sheds a tiny dog’s worth of hair every day, and both track in dirt. But it’s also because we’re still in the “discovery” phase with Maura. The “if left to her own devices, it may look like a hurricane blew through here” phase. The “I swear, I just vacuumed, what the heck kid? That was a full box of cereal. Why do I never have a dog that’ll eat cereal?” phase.
Luckily, I now live with hardwood and laminate flooring, so when Maura dumps milk across the table and onto the floor, it can all be easily cleaned up with a towel, and the cereal and dog hair are easy to vacuum up.
If I stop to over-analyze it all, it could become very depressing, being stuck in this phase of development. Luckily, I know that with Maura, one shouldn’t look at the broad picture. One looks at what’s happening in front of us, the little things that are big. Like she was able to button a button herself – huge for a girl with bendy fingers and wonky fine motor skills! Or the other night, without prompting, she took her plate to the kitchen. Sure, she scraped it all off into the sink, but she’s now equal to her siblings on this particular task. If she spills the proverbial milk, she will grab a kitchen towel and do her best to clean it up.
I may never be able to put my vacuum away, but I don’t see that as a loss. Instead, it’s a reminder that we’re still winning. We’re still moving forward, even if it’s in baby steps. It means that we have more important things to do than unplug the vacuum, wind up the cord, and put it in a designated place. In a weird way, it’s a symbol of development in my house. Progress is messy, people, but we’re prepared to handle all that comes with it.