A Beautiful Mess
Yesterday, I scurried around the house doing laundry, picking up the odds and ends scattered everywhere by the riff raff who live with me, clicking through my to-dos, and reminding myself the clock was ticking till the kids got home. I HAD to get outside and enjoy the gorgeous, sunny day. Finally, after much internal cheerleading to power through my chores, I got myself out the door.
I walked my way around the neighborhood, singing along to my tunes, soaking up the sunshine, and stopping to chat with neighbors. Refreshed from the exercise and being outdoors, I returned home, ready to tackle the next load of laundry and the return of the kiddos. As I walked up the stairs inside my house I felt a drip, then a drop on my head. I looked up; there were more drip, drip, drips. What in the hell was going on? Suddenly, I heard a rhythmic splish-splash coming from the guest room around the corner. I peeked in and saw water seeping through the can lights and the fan. Wide-eyed and panicked, I called my husband, certain there was a break in the water line. Surely, some major faulty plumbing issue was causing this wet mess.
Up the stairs I ran to locate the source of the indoor storm. There I found water puddling on the hardwood of our foyer and into the laundry room. I threw the door open and immediately spotted the cause of the deluge. Water was pouring out of the utility sink. The sink I put Jack’s stained baseball pants in to soak. The sink with the faucet that I never turned off. Ugh. My stomach dropped. It wasn’t a water line that burst. It was my memory. It was my fault. I flooded my house.
Immediately I felt ashamed and embarrassed. What had I done? How could I have been so careless and forgetful? Was I losing my marbles? Oh, I didn’t want to call my husband. Was I going to get yelled at? Was he going to hold this against me? Was every purchase I wanted to make for the next 50 years going to be thrown back at me with a, “Well, maybe if you hadn’t flooded the house we could afford that…”? I was taken back to my youth, and the mistakes I made as a child: my mess-ups, accidents, and sometimes plain old bad choices that had landed me in trouble and on the tearful end of harsh words, punishments, and worst-of-all, the unknown, from my parents or teachers.
All of those thoughts and emotions rushed through me, yet, at my ripe-old-age of 41 and 11/12ths I also knew I had to take responsibility. There was no blaming the dogs, kids or a random stranger (yeah, there were lots of randoms who happened to steal missing things like books and clothes when I was a kid). I had to take whatever anger, frustration, or cost there was to bear. I knew that. And I accepted that.
Luckily and gratefully, when I called my husband, he was shocked and certainly not happy, but he wasn’t angry. He didn’t scream or give me the silent treatment. As I apologized profusely, accepting all of the blame, he simply said, “What do you want me to say to that?” He was right. There was nothing more he could say after telling me that it was okay and that accidents happen. Berating myself and shouldering guilt would only make me and everyone else miserable.
With this gentle reminder from my husband I snapped back to my burgeoning philosophy that even with all of my faults, I am worthy of love, forgiveness, happiness. And, while this moment in time sucks—a lot—I pretty quickly realized that my goof-up didn’t mean I was a terrible, stupid person. I was unfocused and forgetful, but not worthless. I was too busy worrying about what was next and not what I was doing. My younger, less-enlightened self may have dwelled on the cost, inconvenience, and embarrassment of it all. Not now. Obviously, I didn’t want to leave the water running or flood the house. Clearly, I’m not going to like paying the deductible to have our guest room reconstructed and our floors torn up and replaced. But it is what it is. No matter how much I shame myself, the outcome is the same.
Lessons learned. Mistakes happen but do not define me. Forgive myself. I am not perfect. Let go and move on. Be present in the moment. I may be a mess, but I am a beautiful one. And always, always, always, turn off the water faucet.