Sunday evening, I stood over a sink of dirty dishes and my eyes welled with tears. Manning, Jordan and Marjorie were playing in the living room. Giggles and happy squeals filled our house with noise. Happy noise. In that one moment as I stood over the kitchen mess, everything was good. Everything was normal: a dirty kitchen, loud children, toys scattered and a momma with a massively happy heart. I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the ordinary, the messy, the chaos.
When you get married, pregnant or even hold your healthy baby for the first time, no one tells you that it can all go away in the blink of an eye. Happily ever after doesn’t exist. But to be honest, I’m glad it doesn’t. Without life’s trials, I would not cry over dirty dishes. I would not realize how absolutely incredible the ordinary is. I would be caught up in cleaning my house to perfection that I would forget to leave the sink and play with my babies. I wouldn’t realize that dirty dishes will always be there, but my babies will not. They will eventually grow up and leave the nest.
Because I have spent countless nights praying over my baby in a hospital, I can’t help but cry every night when I quietly rock her at three in the morning.
Because I have held her fine baby hair in my hand as it fell out and felt her slick head, bald from chemo, I can’t help but nuzzle my nose into her fuzzy baby head a million times a day.
Because I have vanished from my son for weeks to take care of my girl, I can’t help but squish him with hugs and kisses every time he goes to school in the morning.
Because there were countless days I didn’t get pick him up, I cry every day when he sees me from a distance in the school yard and runs over squealing “Mommy” like I am his whole world.
Because I have laid lifeless on my bathroom floor, overdosing from diet pills and bargaining with God to let me live until morning, I can’t help but soak in every sunset as if it might be my last.
Because I spent half my life at war with my body, I can’t help but smile when I look in the mirror and appreciate and genuinely love the woman looking back at me.
Because my eyes have seen so much and my heart has felt such pain, my soul can’t help but be overwhelmed in something as simple as dirty dishes. I will never take the seemingly ordinary for granted.
So yes, I cry over a sink filled with dirty dishes because it is so much more than what it seems. A messy kitchen means a house that is lived in. A house that is lived in is a house that is filled with love, laughter and most of all, a house that is filled with LIFE.
McCall Dempsey is founder of Southern Smash and mom to two beautiful children. Her organization, Southern Smash, is dedicated to raising awareness of eating disorders. In May of 2015, 7-month old Marjorie was diagnosed with cancer. You can follow along and read her amazing story on her blog here.