Sweet Defeat

by - June 06, 2011

I turn up the news and change the sheets at 6:30 in the morning because there isn't anyone still snug in beds here. My kids are at youth camp, chaperoned by their pastor-dad, and I don't have to creep around quiet in the dark while a family sleeps this summer morn. A family of five minus four leaves me and the dog oddly alone and unsure of what to do with all the tidy quiet.

I used to enjoy being left behind before children, when Mike gallavented with youth groups, to read, and think, and be still. But that was a decade and a half ago, and although I remember who she was back then, I don't really know her anymore. Distance measured in time made us strangers, surprising strangers.

I washed the dishes before I left for work: a saucepan from steamed milk for my coffee, two spoons, and last night's water glass. They looked lonely in the sink and I couldn't bear it, so I rinsed warm suds, and left the sink a stark empty. Victory.

My goal, every other morning, all day long, as long as I can remember, is to somehow win the battle of mounting dirty dishes in a perpetually cluttered kitchen. Today, there's easy victory before 7:30 am.

The chaos and clutter, my supposed opponent all these years, today surprises me as an old friend, one I miss seeing in my empty sink. I look around at my achieved victory, the kitchen table pristine, the quiet washing machine.

Victory is empty.

I never knew it would be.  I can't wait until my full life returns in stuffed suitcases, sunburns, and revived spirits to fill my home, my washing machine, with the mess that is my life.

I think I prefer defeat, full as it is, over empty victory—any day and every day.

I can only wonder if I will still embrace defeat and stop fighting the age-old battle once they get home. Somehow, I doubt it.

Lord, please don't let me get used to this clean house. Amen.

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  1. Thanks for this post--it's so poignant. And congrats on being featured over at The High Calling! Well-deserved!

  2. I honestly can say that I enjoy those moments alone thoroughly.

    But, I'm also glad to see them when they get home, so I know where you're coming from.

    It's good for you to know that right now, the life you are living really is the life you would choose.

  3. I'm glad I picked up some more printer ink yesterday while I was out... I will be printing this post out and putting in a clear cover on the fridge! (You know that is where all the really important stuff goes!) Sitting here in the midst of all my sweet defeat!

  4. Dawn,

    This stirs in this mama's soul. What a poignant story, and it reminds me to live in the NOW with these sweet girls of mine.

  5. I SO get this! My two kids are in Indiana for 8 weeks this summer, visiting their dad. The house is quieter than normal (my 2 step children are still here this summer, though on vacation this week with their mom), but I miss them terribly. The mess? Not so much. But the mess makers? You betcha!

  6. My daughter is working away from home this summer. I just wander through the house and wonder where the clutter went--where the noise is. Thankfully it comes back for the weekend. :-)


  7. You could always visit me; my house is never clean.


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