In July, my parents were visiting my dad's parents, so that my parents were only a little over an hour away.
It was glorious.
Impromptu visits--four or five of them--gave me a little taste of what I've always wanted: my parents living in close proximity to our family. It was great to have them in our house, eating dinner with us, playing with our children and talking to us late at night.
But my dad did something on one of those visits, something so selfless, that I will never forget.
And it has to do with a toilet.
If you have been reading my blog for a year or so, and if you ever read my Facebook statuses, then it will be common knowledge to you that I have serious issues with the way two little boys (i.e., mine) use (abuse) bathrooms. Particularly mine.
There was this persistent smell. Like someone had peed on a piece of cardboard and then hid the piece in the wall. I'm sorry to describe something so gross, but I'd like you to understand the extent and grossness of The Smell. My parents knew that it bothered me. They heard my same refrain every time they visited: "So I've cleaned the boys' bathroom top-to-bottom, thoroughly and with powerful cleaners, and it still stinks...I'm sorry. Feel free to use the master bathroom."
Well, this last visit, my dad was on a mission. He wanted to help us with anything that needed helping-with. Shampoo the carpets? Done. Buy some food? Done. Carry something heavy to the garage? Done and done. Whatever it was, he did it. So on this night, I was reading to Jaxon and Reed as they fell asleep. And looking down the hallway, I realize that my dad is on his hands and knees, scrubbing around the toilet in the boys' bathroom. I walk in, almost panicked, and say, "Oh Dad, you don't have to do that! It's SO GROSS!" Everything short of "Please for the love of everything fragrant STOP!"
But he looked up, a huge smile on his face and said, "Hey, we're all in this together. I'm happy to do it." I asked softly, "Because you can't stand using that bathroom?" And he answered, "Not at all. Are you forgetting that your mother and I raised seven children?" And I understood that he wasn't doing this to make me feel bad--or even because he was just sick of it--he was doing it because he wanted to help me find a solution to a really annoying issue. He simply wanted to make my life a little easier.
I said sheepishly, "I'll let you, then, I guess...." And he thanked me. So what did I do? I tried not to cry. I know it might sound silly, but it struck me so. I understood that he really DOES have my back. He really does want to make things easier and he really does KNOW how hard the daily stuff of life can be.
"Dad, this is the equivalent of you washing my feet."
"I'm happy to do it."
Not only did my dad find the source of The Smell (people, unscrew your toilet lid from the bowl and look under those hinges....and I won't be offended if you DON'T thank me....), he removed the top shelf of the dishwasher so that we could wash the offending object (okay, I guess I'll just SAY OUT LOUD that we PUT THE TOILET SEAT IN THE DISHWASHER....) completely sparkling clean.
It's hard for me to ASK for help with some of the really gross aspects of my life, but I know I often need the help, and my dad's show of solidarity convinced me that the old proverb rings true--and might I add a twist? It takes a village to raise a child (and to make a little boys' bathroom smell good) .