We’re Worth It

By Diane Stark

I woke up early to a gorgeous July morning. The sunlight was already streaming through my window, and I knew it was going to be an absolute scorcher. As I padded down the hallway to the kitchen – and the coffee pot – I could hear my children discussing what they were going to do that day.

“Let’s have a giant squirt gun fight,” suggested my younger son.

“No, let’s get out the Slip-n-Slide,” said my daughter.

The littlest one started to whine. “No, not the Slip and Slide. Remember what happened the last time?” She rubbed her right knee, which still had a scab on it from her slip off the Slip-n-Slide and the subsequent slide through the less-than-forgiving crab grass.

“Maybe we can get Mom to help us fill water balloons,” my daughter said. My oldest son shushed her as he saw me walk into the room.

Ever the negotiator, he sidled up to me and said, oh-so-casually, “So, Mom, what did you have planned for today?”

I didn’t need to consult my To Do list to answer his question. All I had to do was look around. The overflowing laundry hamper and the empty refrigerator told me all I needed to know.

“I’ve got a mountain of laundry to do, and I desperately need to get to the grocery store,” I said with a sigh.

“Oh,” said my son with a sigh of his own. “We were hoping that maybe, you know, if you weren’t too busy, that you might be able to fill up some water balloons this afternoon.”

I shook my head. “Sorry guys, not today. If I don’t make it to the grocery store, I don’t have a clue what I can fix for dinner tonight.”

The kids’ eyes lit up. They knew what that meant. No grocery shopping that afternoon meant pizza for dinner that night. If they could somehow lure me outside, they not only got out of a shopping trip, but they also dodged tuna noodle casserole in favor of pepperoni pizza. It was a win-win for them, and I almost hated to dash their hopes.

With yet another sigh, I assured them that we were, in fact, going to the grocery store that afternoon. The kids shrugged and figured they’d better go have some fun while they had the chance. They threw on their swim suits and headed outside.

I, on the other hand, began slogging through my To Do list. I threw a load of clothes into the washing machine and then started on the pile of dishes in the sink. Through the kitchen window, I could see my children playing. Despite the youngest one’s protests, they had gotten out the Slip-n-Slide and were taking turns running and diving down the yellow plastic mat. I could hear their laughter, and I envied them for just a moment. But, as always, duty called.

I finished the dishes and grabbed my To Do list. My fancy, pre-printed pad of To Do lists. Yes, they were a gift from my mother, as she is the only one who can truly appreciate my slightly neurotic obsession with lists of all kinds, To Do lists in particular. Each sheet on the 365-sheet pad – good for a whole year – has an inspiring quote printed at the top followed by the usual blank lines and check-off boxes. Today’s was a quote by Johann von Goethe. It read, “Nothing is worth more than this day.”

Very inspiring, I thought, as I perused the list to see what else needed to be done. Dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, all of the usual suspects appeared on my list. I tried not to roll my eyes at the monotony of my days as I grabbed the Pledge and a dust rag. I wiped down the furniture and the ceiling fans and then moved on to the window sills.

Through every window in my home, I could see or hear my children fighting the heat in the wettest ways they could find. They had decided to try to fill up the water balloons without my help, and it wasn’t going well. As my sons struggled to get the mouth of the balloon to fit around the garden hose, my daughters tried to tie the tops into a knot. They squealed as the water squirted out all over them. I laughed, and the youngest one heard me and looked up. Water dripped into her eyes as she grinned at me. “It’s really fun,” she mouthed. The other children then spotted me and motioned for me to come outside.

I sighed and looked around at my still-messy house. I remembered that I needed to hit the grocery store or my good friend Papa John would be making dinner. I looked at my nowhere-near-complete To Do list. And that quote caught my eye again.

“Nothing is worth more than this day.”

Surely this day – this practically perfect, without a cloud in the sky day – was worth more than dishes, laundry and grocery shopping. This day was worth water balloons, squirt gun fights and making memories with my children.

And not just the day, but we – my kids and I – were worth it too.

So you know what I did next. I put down the dust rag and put on my swim suit. I grabbed some towels and sun screen and headed outside. My children cheered when they saw me, especially when I told them the pizza delivery boy would be stopping by around 6 pm.

But really, weren’t we worth it?

About this writer

  • Diane Stark Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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