By: Terra M
Fingerprints everywhere. On everything. All the time. Today, it's sticky fingerprints. Tiny fingerprints belonging to my youngest. Tomorrow, prints will probably appear somewhere else, of a different size. Always fingerprints. Everywhere.
I remember a time without fingerprints. Life seemed simpler then. Newlyweds, I attended school while Raul worked. My list of responsibilities consisted of much less - keep the house clean, do my school work, work a few hours a week, cook, and keep my husband happy. We had no expectations or have-tos. We did what we wanted, when we wanted, how we wanted; our lives were our own.
Our lives were incomplete.
I have always dreamed of children, lots of children. As a child, I loved those smaller than me and dreamed of becoming a mother. Baby dolls, loved and cherished, each had a name and an identity. My aunt, shortly before she passed, told me that I was meant to be a mom. She had always pictured me barefoot and pregnant, all the time, so had I. Reality, however, told a different story - a bleak future absent of fingerprints.
Reality was I couldn't. I couldn't have my dream. I couldn't be barefoot and pregnant all the time. I couldn't be a mom. I once told my husband that I felt broken. A woman's job is to have children, and as badly as I wanted to, my body wouldn't allow it. He argued, of course, but it hurt him as badly as it hurt me.
Friends’ homes began to fill with the squeals of children and fingerprints as they achieved our dream. Fingerprints covered windows and mirrors, the sight of which broke my heart. These fingerprints, the reminders of my broken body, began to alienate us from those we loved. Reality became Christmases spent in tears as my nieces and nephews unwrapped coveted gifts. Mother’s Day every year I spent locked in my room as my church celebrated those blessed with the joys of fingerprints on the walls; Father’s Day the same. As we looked around our home, once filled with so much hope, we now began to see blankness and emptiness. The clean windows and mirrors were missing something, something we never realized we would miss.
Through the pain, we continued to dream and to plan. Everywhere we went, reminders of parenthood seemed to glare at us. We held on to each other, and we trusted our God. Trips to Wal-Mart became filled with “when we finally”’s.... When we finally have children, they won't dress like that. They won't act like that. Can you believe they allow that child to throw that fit? Ours won’t do that. We won’t ever take our child out in unmatched clothing, mussed hair, and a dirty face. They won't’s… We won’ts... None of that...
At long last, our dream became our reality. Our first child, with her stubborn cry and big brown eyes, meant fear as we began our new journey, and awe in what, or rather who, God had provided. We finally understood why our parents had always told us “there is no love like that for a child”. Filled with overwhelming thankfulness, I remember the shock when we experienced some heartbreak. No one had warned us about that. Shortly after bringing Lizzie home from the hospital, my hormones raging, I realized that they had not done her footprints, nor her fingerprints, in her baby book. Growing and changing every day, those prints I had longed for had no existence. I burst into uncontrollable tears, as my husband calmly wrapped his arms around me. My mother, in all her wisdom, found some ink and carefully pressed the fingers of her first grandchild, given to her by her first born, into the ink, then the paper. There they were. My dream. My reality.
With this small bundle of blessings, came the fingerprints. Not just the ones that her grandmother lovingly pressed onto paper, but fingerprints as the tips of her fingers reached to touch the television screen with her beloved Dora speaking through it. They appeared on mirrors as she delighted in discovering herself and the front door as she waited anxiously for Daddy to return from work. Each week, I would carefully wipe clean the traces of fingerprints left around the house.
Overtime, Lizzie’s complete opposite, my sweet Gabi with a heart of compassion, was born. With the addition of the second child, the duties of mom become more difficult to manage. Now a teacher, I would rush my children to daycare, go to work, and return home again to take on the role of mommy. I had dinner to fix - children to bathe - a house, now full of two precious sets of fingerprints, to clean. They were still pressed on the mirror where they now delighted in making silly faces in order to make each other laugh. Prints materialized on windows as our daughters sat, watching and waiting for their daddy to return home. Fingerprints of white, left behind on the kitchen table, evidence of Lizzie’s masterpiece painted with diaper rash cream. Chocolate syrup prints on the floor of the kitchen as Gabi discovered a woman’s true love. With a sigh of frustration, I would scrub each of these prints away.
The littlest and most stubborn Aryanna Rhayne completed our family. Anna balances out the Lizzie’s intensity and Gabi’s compassion with her love of life. And now, fingerprints truly exist everywhere. In the play dough I find pressed to the floor all over the house. Dirty smudges marr my beautiful yellow walls of the once pristine new home. Orange, Anna’s favorite color, streaks her white bedroom walls, traces of her favorite snack. Their bathroom is filled with prints of different colors from trying Mommy’s make-up. Traces of my children still cover the mirrors and windows, along with every other surface of my home. As I strive to erase the fingerprints left carelessly behind by little fingers, I no longer sigh, but scream in frustration at the never ending cleaning and housework that comes with the honor of having three young children, and I begin to dwell on my reality.
The reality is my children have altered our plans. The house will never be spotless again. They won't wear has become a plea for my children to put on matching clothing, while Lizzie, 9 going on 16, tells us that she has nothing to wear. We have become the family running into the store with dirty faces and hair everywhere because who has time to clean when you are having fun. Let’s face it, Gabi at 7 attracts dirt like a magnet does metal filings. And the fits - not my child? Oh yes, it is my child. We never stopped to think that “that child” could have other issues other than being a spoiled brat. For now, my child who has so much volume, strength, and stubbornness, my tiny four-year-old Princess Änna with severe anxiety can cry uncontrollably at a high volume for no reason whatsoever.
Life is no longer simple, or easy. The fingerprints, once longed for, have become a chore. Everywhere I turn, something needs doing and cleaning. My days now revolve around being a teacher, a wife, a maid, a mother. WIth these come interruptions of children arguing and a dog barking. These annoyances disappear, forgotten as my children run into the room - Anna simply to tell me she loves me, Gabi for a kiss, and Lizzie to perform her new “show”.
Reality had become a chore, but my children’s enthusiastic interruptions remind me that my dream has come true. This realization stopped me in my tracks. My children, whom I longed for, are not chores but blessings. Now those fingerprints that I have wiped away, I wish I had back. The ones that make me scream in frustration also make me sigh with relief and contentment. I have my dream, my world. When it seems as though life is crashing down around me and I can't go on any farther, I can because I have tiny fingerprints. Everywhere.