The beholder’s eye

Shoving the vacuum into its home in the hall closet, I stifled a groan. A half-day of housework behind me and I still wasn’t ready for the out-of-state company expected any very soon minute. My four small children whirled through, leaving a wake of toys, crumbs, and stray shoes scattered across the recently trackless carpet. 

And then I saw it: the sliding doors of the family room. The ones I had washed and scrubbed earlier that morning. Generous finger streaks and tiny nose prints mottled the freshly polished glass panes. And that looks like... Frowning, I stepped nearer and bent for a closer inspection. Why it is! Peanut butter and Oreo cookies smudged all over. Those kids! Near tears, I plopped onto the couch and grabbed the jangling phone. “Hello?” I growled. 

“Hello, dear,” gently answered my mother from her own couch a state away. “Are you busy?” 

“Oh, you have no idea!” I said, exasperated. “We’re expecting guests, and I just can’t seem to get all the housework caught up around here, and the kids...” 

“That reminds me,” she interrupted. “I should do some of my own. Housework, that is. The mirror above the couch is smeared. But, you know, every time I look at the sweet baby prints your little ones left there last month, I can’t bring myself to wipe them away. In fact, I’m still showing them off to my friends as ‘priceless artwork’!” 

My gaze ping-ponged around the room. A half-eaten cracker here, wadded socks there, tilting towers of picture books in the corner. I grinned. Crowning it all was a hand-painted masterpiece on the patio doors. Unnumbered. One-of-a-kind. My own piece of priceless artwork. 

- Carol McAdoo Rehme

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