"I'm coming!" I call as I change the baby's diaper and hear their feet following me from below.
"I'm coming, right now!" I say, as I run to the bedroom to get the toddler a change of clothes, and then notice laundry that needs to be put away, and also quickly scrub the sink.
I've started to wonder why my three-year-old daughter follows me around the house when I tell her I'll be right back. I'm coming, I say. I'll be right there. Of course, I never do really make it "right there," at least not in the near term or without carrying a bushel of something that needs to be folded, washed, cooked, or itemized.
Finally, one day last week, she cornered me. "Mommy, stay right where you are."
Surprised, I lowered my foot that was raised mid-air. "What? Why?" I was poised to race through the house. "Stay right here?" I asked, pointing to the ground.
"Yes," she said. She handed me a crayon. "Color."
I looked nervously around the kitchen.
"Yellow," she clarified.
I saw a crumb on the floor and my hands began to twitch for the broom. I could hear the dryer timer beeping from the basement. I had no idea what we were going to have for dinner. I suddenly felt that I needed to go grab a cookbook and chop something. But she was resolute, her hands on her little hips. "Mommmmy!"
"Okay, okay." I grabbed the crayon and sat down. I started to color the mermaid's hair red. I stayed in the lines. That was fun -- so neat and tidy. I decided to blend the red with the orange to give the mermaid highlights, and I found that to be fun, too. We decided that the mermaid needed a blue fin, and my daughter wanted her to have purple arms. Why not? The toddler came downstairs and gave her a black mowhawk with his gigantic toddler crayons. I laughed. Out loud. It felt good. "See, Mommy!" My daughter looked at me approvingly. (Is she three, or fifteen?)
We talked, we laughed. She told me about her day. That crumb is still there, on the floor, right next to the chair. I've swept the kitchen four dozen times since then, but perhaps I feel I need to leave that crumb as a reminder of the Afternoon that Mommy Colored and Had Fun.
I'm reminded that I serve the God who came down, the God who got dirty. When Jesus tried to climb a mountain for solitude and the crowds came after Him, He didn't tell them to go back down. (AAAAGHH! Climb faster! I want to shout as I read the Gospel account. RUN!) But He didn't tell them to go back down. And He didn't lock Himself in the bathroom in hopes that they would give up and go away (I might be guilty here). He turned around and taught them. I wonder if Jesus would like to see me color.
And so I put down my broom. Again, and again, and again.