Noodles on the Refrigerator

There was a noodle stuck to the side of my refrigerator this morning. A sign of my life…crazy, out of control, a little silly at times. Noodles do not typically belong on refrigerators and at some people’s homes, I am sure it would be a strange sight indeed. At our home, it seemed completely natural. In fact, it seemed such a natural part of the landscape of our home, instead of wiping it off right away, I left it there. In fact, it’s there right now, a vivid reminder of our family meal yesterday. A meal which contained dialogue like this…

“I don’t like this dinner.”
“I don’t like this kind of shrimp. I like FRESH shrimp.”
“Stop complaining right now or you’re going to have a timeout without any dinner.” (Had to retract this when my kids seemed happy, not threatened.)
“Get your feet off the table.”
“How many more bites?”
“Twenty five”
“I can’t count that high.”
“Good. Keep eating…”

What is it about these days of having young kids when noodles on the refrigerator seem perfectly normal? When a clean kitchen is more noticeable than a dirty one? I remember the days when I loved to entertain. I would set out my fine china and light candles and serve a gourmet meal that my guests raved about, whether they liked it or not. That’s the nice thing about guests: they eat their food and say it is good. Now I have to coerce, bribe and threaten my “guests” to eat the simplest things with little to no kudos in return. And no one appreciates gourmet. Last night’s meal was titled “Fancy Shrimp Fettuccine.” I should have known better. Now there are no pristine table settings fit for gourmet meals. It’s more like rice all over the floor, hands in cups fishing out ice cubes, spilled drinks, and stinky toes creeping up onto the table.

I know one day I will be able to go back to serving gourmet. To having guests over for candlelight dinners and fine china. But I know when that day comes I will miss these days. It will feel strange and new to not have to coerce anyone to eat dinner. I will miss those little toes on the edge of the table. And I will look at my pristine fridge and remember those noodles from the past…and I am sure I will miss those too.

Dear God, help me to live here. To live now. Not in the yesterdays, not in the tomorrows, but in the todays. No matter how messy they may be.