FAMILY by Kristin Danley 6/4/2018
Being a mom means you’re pulled in a million different directions while cleaning up a gazillion messes. Kissable sticky faces, spilled apple juice, an endless stream of laundry — it all seems to pile up.
Some days you’re lucky enough to squeeze in a shower, let alone make an attempt to pick up and clean the house. Add in that Lego or Hot Wheels car you just painfully stepped on or the lipstick smudges you discovered on your bedspread and some days you want to lock yourself in the bathroom for just one minute.
Devoted mom Heather Duckworth fully understands those feelings. But she wants other moms to hear her story and to remind themselves to not become so absorbed in the day-to-day trials and tribulations, but to strive to find the joy among the messes.
Heather shared her special story in a Facebook post she entitled ”The Blue Stain” that has since gone viral. She was scrubbing up a gooey puddle of sticky slime that her little girl had accidentally let ooze through her fingers and fall to the floor when it hit her…
While her daughter had tried to clean up most of it, Heather felt she had to scrub the grout where the slime had clung to. As she became irritated with the mess, she paused, because she knew all too well that she couldn’t focus on this one little thing and let it consume her.
Fourteen years ago, it was bedtime. As the mom of two-year-old triplets and a four-year-old big brother, life was a whirlwind of diapers, messes, hugs, naps, playtime, smooches, and more.
Every single minute, she was chasing after and caring for the kids. But she wouldn’t change her life for the world.
“My hands were full, but so was my heart.”
The boys had finished up dinner and baths, and were picking up the playroom before tumbling into bed. They were dancing and singing to music playing on the radio to help make cleaning up more fun — it was the last time things would be this crazy-fun-normal for a long time.
That’s when Heather discovered it. The big blue stain.
One of her toddler triplets was clutching a pen that exploded and sprayed ink everywhere — all over the carpet, his pajamas, himself. Heather was exhausted, she was frustrated, and she let her emotions take over.
“I instantly felt so upset as I grabbed my son and took him to the bathroom to clean him up and my husband started scrubbing those bright blue stains on our carpet. Tears of frustration stung my eyes. I was just so tired. And mad. Like really, really angry. I wasn’t mad at my son – who was as blue as a Smurf – but upset with myself for leaving that pen out where my toddler could reach it. We had only lived in this house for six months and now the carpet was completely ruined. We scrubbed that stain for an hour that night, but yet it remained.”
Even the professional cleaners could not get that carpet stain out. Every time she walked by it, the stain made her emotions boil up all over again.
“It made me feel angry and it made me feel like such a failure for leaving out the pen where my young son could reach it. That blue stain was just a big fat negative in my life. I hated it.”
The stain taunted her daily, a reminder of what had happened. Until one day, the stain no longer was of importance.
The following month, the little boy who looked like a Smurf after spraying blue ink all over the carpet was diagnosed with cancer. Two painful and sorrowful years later, he passed.
He was gone, but the blue ink stain remained…
“It was still there . . . and now . . . it was a constant reminder of my son. It was a constant reminder of my frustration over something so trivial . . . something so unimportant in the scheme of life.
That blue stain was a constant reminder that life is messy, but that’s what makes it worth living. A constant reminder to not sweat the small stuff. A constant reminder that ‘things’ aren’t important, but people are. A constant reminder that accidents happen. A constant reminder to let go of the little things and hang on tight to what is important.”
That stubborn stain never faded, so Heather hid it under furniture. Every time she cleaned and uncovered it, “it would take my breath away,” a reminder of the loss of the little boy who made that very mess.
Heather wants to impress upon other moms that there will always be spills, random Goldfish crackers scattered everywhere, mountains of laundry, a pile of dirty dishes, fingerprints everywhere, and blue ink stains on carpet. But those messes are made by the most beautiful creatures God has ever created and has entrusted to our care.
She said they are “a blessing in disguise” and she would have “a million blue ink stains on my carpet if it meant I could have one more day with my son.”
So as Heather scrubbed the slime out of the grout, she reminded herself of the times where she cradled her sick child in the hospital, instead wishing she was home cleaning up a mess that he was instead healthy enough to make. Heather encourages all parents to find the “bless in this mess” and focus on what is important in life.
Yesterday, the tragic news broke that iconic fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead in her home of a reported suicide. She was 55-years-old.
All across social media, fashion lovers and other celebrity icons mourned the death of a beloved friend, designer, and influencer. Many women also mourned the death of someone they feel “understood” them through clothing and accessories. While Twitter and Facebook were filled with kind words and sentiments for Kate Spade and her family, one Facebook post stood out amongst the others for its powerful message.
Facebook user Claudia Herrera posted a photo of her Kate Spade bags, along with a sentimental and important message about mental health disorders that everyone should see and read.
My laptop bag is Kate Spade. My wallet is Kate Spade. The adorable cactus charm is Kate Spade. The purse my daughter carries is Kate Spade; I just got her a new one a couple of weeks ago, in fact. The phone I’m holding in my hand as I type this has a Kate Spade case.
Yet I had no idea this amazingly talented and creative woman suffered from depression. I know she went to ASU, which we just toured last week. I know that’s where she met her husband, who she left behind today along with her daughter. I know her brand story. Yet I didn’t know she suffered from depression.
Why is it any of my business or yours to know? It doesn’t have to be, of course.
But I knew when Patrick Swayze was battling pancreatic cancer. I know that Cynthia Nixon is a breast cancer survivor. I know that Selena Gomez has lupus and recently had a kidney transplant. I know that Dave Letterman suffers from heart disease. I know that Lance Armstrong is a testicular cancer survivor.
But I didn’t know that Kate Spade suffered from depression.
Or that Robin Williams did.
Because somehow society has made it more acceptable to talk about breasts and testicles than about the mind and the chemicals and hormones it releases and controls and the messages it relays.
Until depression is seen as an ILLNESS and not a condition that can be “cured” by being brushed off with a “try to be happy” or “just look at the bright side of life; you have so much to be happy about.”
Until anxiety is seen as an ILLNESS and not a condition that can be “cured” by being brushed off with a “just don’t be afraid of ____” or “get over it, freak.”
Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, etc. feed your mind the wrong messages. They tell you to be afraid of things you know you shouldn’t be afraid of. They tell you that you aren’t good enough and don’t deserve to be alive and that things won’t get better. They tell you that everyone is out to get you, that everyone is looking at you, that everyone is judging you.
And sadly, the last sentence comes with truth. People do judge those with mental illness. Yet would you judge someone with cancer? Heart disease? Immune disorders? A tumor?
Would you tell them to just “get over it?” As though people suffering from mental ILLNESS could somehow just wish it away? Don’t you think they would if they could?!
Until the stigma is removed from mental illness … until society truly, authentically accepts it as an illness … those suffering from these illnesses will continue to hide their condition.
In some cases they will self medicate with drugs and alcohol.
In some cases, like an old friend when we were in our early 20s, they’ll jump off a cliff in LA.
In some cases, they’ll hang themselves from a red scarf from their bedroom door in their gorgeous New York City apartment.
Depression is a monster. And if you don’t start realizing that mental illness is an illness and not joke fodder … if you don’t respond with love and compassion when someone does open up to you about it … if you know someone with these illnesses and make them feel they are weak because of them … you might want to ask yourself if maybe you are too.
Rest easy, Kate Spade.