As I swing the heavy mop across the floor I could not help but feel frustrated – it seemed I was forever having to mop up muddy footprints. It seemed that I would just get the floor clean and those footprints would somehow magically appear again.
As I continued to mop in preparation of the birthday celebration we were about to host – the 23rd birthday of my 3rd daughter my mind began to wander. Where had the time gone that this little girl of mine was now a grown woman? Was it not just yesterday that I hear the back door slam as she excitedly ran into the house to show me her latest treasure? Was it not last night that I pulled out the bucket of hot water, got on all fours and washed the floor in this very same room?
As I continued with the task at hand… the mop suddenly became very heavy in another way. It seemed to be pulling away from me – moving backwards in time somehow, as if there was some force out there trying to re-adjust my way of thinking.
A little girl screaming through the house as her sister ran after her while between breaths of giggles and laughter trying to convince the elder one – it’s cute – it’s little – you have to see it!
As I lifted the mop to the bucket of water for yet another rinse my thoughts continued on. Another little girl with bright red hair standing in this very room, big blue eyes looking up at me with all the innocence only a child can give. In a voice as sweet as any angel she asks “Can we keep her mommy? She is so cold!” – shaking my head at the memory of that day a tear forms in the corner of my eye as I think about this little girl, her granny and the soaking wet kitten rescued from the barn. What a dear friend Suzy became to all of us!
The little boy with his soulful eyes and deep voice who can melt this mother’s heart in an instant, standing in the doorway needing a container. “It’s for my special rocks mom” – I cannot help but wonder what happened to those rocks?
As I turn the corner of the dining room towards the hall where not so long ago the bathroom used to be. I stopped and listened to the splashes in my mind.
This is the very spot that the old bathtub used to sit. It was here that I would kneel to wash away the remnants of a full day of play. It was here that I would carefully pour water over my children’s hair to rinse out the last of the soap. Chuckling I remind myself this is also the room where my girl stuff would disappear. How my eldest used to love to sneak into the makeup bag and experiment with the contents within. In such a hurry she was to be grown up.
As I look around the new hall I remember the old. The door is different now but in the same spot as it was years ago. The stairwell is now gone, and one can no longer see through to the living room that is now the library. How the ghosts of the past love to linger in this area! The wall lined with shoes, the school bags – and Taffy! I smile the knowing smile of a mother as I think of the flattened little teddy bear that my son still has to this day. The patter of little feet as they head up the stairs for the bedtime story.
As I finish up with my mopping I turn to look back at my work. The footprints of now are gone, left in its place are the footprints of then.
This old house has changed over the years, but the memory of my children’s growth is imbedded in the footprints of today.
It is raining again today, which means by tonight there will be more footprints on my clean floor, but somehow it does not frustrate me anymore … as I come to realize that the footprints I mop up tomorrow will be tucked away forever forever in my heart.
Originally Written 2005