I began my day at the bakery with my children. Before the young girl behind the counter could offer them each a reasonably sized Italian cookie, the kids and I had sized up giant sugar cookies littered with rainbow sprinkles. As soon as I paid for them, I presented one to each excited child and we were off to the car.
The cookies were crumbly and messy, and it seemed like as soon as we crossed the bakery threshold, one sprinkle yelled “abandon cookie” and they all began hopping off into the stroller and a few minutes later, my car.
If I’m being honest, it’s not my car, it’s my minivan. Shocker, right? I drive a minivan. Probably a fairly predictable car for me to have. But, for me, my minivan is like the sweatpants of cars, not at all sleek or sexy, but comfortable and functional. Now, let’s get back to my story.
I took a second or two to reflect upon what was about to happen to my car as I loaded my cookie crumb covered kids into their car seats. I knew I had options, but I wasn’t going to hang outside the car until the cookies were finished, and I certainly was not going to take the cookies away from the children.
So, imagine that you took many many cookies and deliberately crumbled them over the floor and seats of a minivan. Then, if you added a bunch more cookie crumbs and threw in some cheddar and pretzel Goldfish crackers– this is probably close to an accurate picture of the mess that was my car. And as I looked at the back of my car, when I was unloading the kids, I felt shame. It was messy and unkempt and looked like I don’t value my things, or a thousand other shameful thoughts.
I decided that the sprinkle cookies were my tipping point, and the next weekend, I had to clean my messy car. I was too embarrassed to take the car to the car wash, so, my husband and I wiped clean each surface and vacuumed up every morsel of food and speck of dirt we could find.
As I was climbing in and out the world’s boxiest car, someone made a remark that I might try to keep the car neater in the future.** And then I began to think about how I am in life. No, the car probably wouldn’t be much neater. I could absolutely see myself, six months down the road, cleaning and wiping the exact same messes. It was then that I felt my shame dissolve.
When I thought about it, a messy car was nearly inevitable for me, especially with children. Because when given a choice between sprinkles or not, in life, most times, I choose sprinkles. Sprinkles are fun, colorful and sweet. And sprinkles are messy.
**It must be said that the person who made the remark was not my husband or a family member.