Thank Heaven for dirty dishes

I have been dying to post this ever since it happened. Here is this week’s column, and possibly the best mommy memory of my life.

“You know, sometimes there’s nothing like a good undeserved pity party to brighten a girl’s mood. Like when you stand around thinking about how much they’ll all miss you if you get hit by a bus, or die from a case of lethal Mastitis.

As a disclaimer, I’ve got to say that since number four has come along, my man has really stepped up his game. When he’s home, he’s my right hand. It feels good to depend on him and know that he’s willing to take a turn with the baby at 4 am when she’s ready to be social. He’ll change any poopy diaper in the house, take the kids twilight hiking just to give me some space, pick up dinner if I’m freaking out–I have no complaints, only compliments.

That’s the logical response. But we all know that I’m neither logical, nor particularly careful with my responses these days, so I’m going to go ahead and tell you how ungrateful and horrible I am.

Last night my man had to miss dinner for work. Unfortunately I had a houseful of company over and kind of wanted him here, but an undisclosed work situation detained him. I smiled and played supportive, knowing he well deserves a good, understanding wife.


Tonight was a repeat situation, only this time he got held up an extra hour and a half with the Scouts. They were doing a Ropes Course and it took longer than expected. The other leaders all had to leave, so Jason stayed so the boys could finish. Good, honorable servant of the People.

Me? The last two nights have wiped me out. Not only did I throw a dinner party for nearly a dozen people last night (WHAT WAS I THINKING??), but tonight was equally difficult. Stuck at the soccer field, both baby girls stinky, the five-year-old ready to do a number in his own pants, me far from the car and further from home–by the time we walked in the door all Hell had broken loose and was doing the Bunny Hop on my kitchen counter. I spent an hour listening to my starving baby scream her head off while I tried to feed and bathe and bed down the tribe. Tragic.

As I finally made my way back to the kitchen, I suddenly thought of my husband, with his big secret fancy job, and his “service” calling that consisted of things like water skiing and rock climbing. In a fit of angst, I turned to my seven-year-old, Harrison.

“You know,” I said, “Just be glad you’re a boy, because that means you get to grow up and be a dad, not a mom.”

“Why’s it better to be a dad?” he asked.

“Because dad’s get to have cool jobs, and drive cool cars, and go hiking and have fun. Mom’s? Mom’s don’t get to do anything.”

“Well, why don’t you just go with dad?”

“Who’s going to take care of the kids? Who’s going to clean the house? No, mom’s get to stay home and work.”

(Yes, I’m a horrible person.)

I stomped around the kitchen, furiously wiping counters and trying to keep from crying.

“Mom?” I heard my boy say, “Would you teach me how to do the dishes?”

I spun around and looked at my little seven-year-old, standing at the sink looking up at me with nothing short of concerned love all over his face. “And maybe the laundry? I could do laundry…”

And in that instant, I knew there wasn’t a job on this Earth that could take me away from these children. My poor sweet husband, away at work, missing out on all the love. Because that’s what I saw, looking into my child’s eyes, love. Love for me and my chosen profession, enough to tie me to this wonderful bit of life for as long as the Lord will let me live it.

Thank you, Heaven, for dirty dishes.”


  1. Annie, that is adorable.

    • annie valentine says:

      Katie, I was just thinking about you yesterday! I can’t seem to get to your blog and don’t know why, but it’s great to hear from you.

  2. That little boy is what we call a tender mercy. Such an awesome story. I was feeling it all with you.

  3. Can I adopt him? At least for a little while?

  4. Annie- kiss that boy for me (okay- kiss him for you, but know that if he were mine I would kiss him for sure)!

    I so totally feel this post. I can’t even begin to tell you just how much this hit home with me. Thank you!

  5. Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this message. It’s easy to focus on ourselves (what housewife doesn’t enjoy a good angry pity party once in a while?), and forget to ask help from the little people, who really do love us, even if the messes they leave and the way they scream when we comb their hair makes it seem otherwise. “Suffer the little ones…”

  6. Wow, that made me tear up, and I want my kids to say that to me one day…. 🙂

    Good job for doing all that you do. Dinner party for 12?? Amazing, girl. I could never do that, even WITH my hubby there.

  7. I love it, brought tears to my eyes. Well written, excellent, I can’t say enough. Your editor is lucky, lucky, lucky!

  8. And that is why we are blessed with children. Loved this post! (And I love little boys.)

  9. You made my eyes leak! This is a tender sweet story, thank you for sharing!

  10. Such a sweetheart! I hope you taught him how to wash dishes and possibly even mop the floor? Thank heaven for little helpers, they grow up to be BIG helpers, then fantastic husbands!

  11. That is possibly the sweetest thing I have ever read.

  12. What a darling little guy! Here’s hoping he makes it through the teen years with that same attitude:)

  13. {tear}

    What a sweet kid. I can so relate to this.

  14. Crying…

    I totally needed this!

  15. I said “Awwwww!” when he offered to do the dishes, and teared up when he went on to the laundry! What a thoughtful little man, and what a blessing!

  16. Oh my sweet heavens above that is so loving and wonderful!

  17. I’m crying. And I even hope it isn’t hormonal.

  18. I’ve been laughing at blog posts all day today, and now I’m crying! (Darn hormones!)

  19. This is my favorite post. What a boy you’ve raised, Annie. Well done. 🙂

  20. If you need me I’ll be the one in the corner with day old mascara running down her cheeks.

    And strike while the iron is hot. Kid labor is cheap! 😉

    And thanks for letting me hold the baby last night. I am pretty sure I dropped the last 3 million eggs out of my ovaries while cuddling her.

  21. It takes a really special blog to tear me up and this one did.
    PS. I have my 5 yo scrub the bathtub.

  22. That was so perfect. What a perfect moment.

  23. That kid is a keeper.

  24. This one made me cry, Annie. What a great lil’ dude you’ve got.

  25. Yup, cried when I read this post.

  26. And thank you heaven for little seven year old boys who remind us of why we chose to do this in the first place!! What a boy!! It always amazes me how some kids seem to know intuitively just what to say to melt your heart.

  27. Yes, indeed, thank heaven for little boys. Thanks for sharing.

  28. I see a career as a polygamist in his future! He’s going to have women all over him!

  29. no insightful comment today – I just loved it enough that I could go away without saying so.

  30. Isn’t it nice to be their favorite girl at least for a little while?

  31. I teared up, too, Annie. One of my favorites ever. I could just feel the love spill out of the screen when he asked that sweet question.

  32. What an awesome kid. I had that same type of conversation with my kids the other day. I think they all just rolled their eyes, and then kept destroying the house.

  33. Well you did it . . . . . you made my eyes well up with water!!! Nice one Annie.

  34. That is just the sweetest story ever. What a sweet little boy.

    I was so remembering and living the moment with you trying to bathe the kids, get them all settled, tired, screaming baby in the backgroud……
    Like that country song says….and ok, fine, you probably don’t listen to country music

    He says “you’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back, time goes to fast”

  35. I’ve just informed my daughter that arranged marriages are now in vogue. And younger men are better for her.

    Just let me know when and where we can meet to get the contract in order!

  36. You raising an awesome man right there. I wanna give that Harrison a hug.

  37. As I am facing #4 in weeks, I am terrified. And this just reminded me that you’re right. I CHOSE this, and I’m happy I did.

  38. Wendy Castle says:

    Annie, That was the sweetest blog,I had to go find a kleenex! We all feel like that sometimes, and what a sweet tender mercy you had with Harrison ! Thank heaven for little boys (and girls).

  39. This one broke my heart too. But, daddies do get to have more fun I think.

  40. Dude I seriously got all weepy. For you, feeling all stressed and me wishing I lived closer to help you. And of course because of that sweet little angel if yours. You and Jason are clearly doing several things right!
    Love you!

  41. Wow! Terrific post! This is so my life, nearly every day, because my husband is not just creative, but also kind-hearted and altruistic. And a scoutmaster. 🙂 How often I forget that my half of the responsibility is not some sorry lot, but the better half — by far. Thank you for sharing your beautiful perspective.


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