Motherhood is hard, y’all. With each new day, there are a few inevitabilities I just know will come my way (and ultimately stress the heck outta me). My kids will start bickering around dinner time and someone will end up crying. The playroom will get trashed and there will be a battle royale over bedtime. Seriously, it’s maddening. But Heather Duckworth of Love, Faith & Chaos wants to remind all of us moms that we really shouldn’t sweat the small stuff — though she admits it’s a lesson that took her years to learn herself.
In a heartbreaking Facebook post that is quickly going viral, Duckworth shares the story of a time she got upset over a blue stain on her carpet. The mother of four explained that her son Jacob had managed to break open a pen with indelible blue ink one day, and no matter what Duckworth did, that stain just wouldn’t come out.
“Tears of frustration stung my eyes,” she wrote. “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.”
Yup. Been there. I wouldn’t blame any mom for flipping out over something like this, but it’s at this point in her story that Duckworth shares something more — something that offers a profound shift in perspective that honestly left me in tears.
You see, that blue stain never came out. Not even after Jacob was diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma, a very rare and aggressive type of cancer, when he was just 3 years old. Jacob, who was born a triplet, courageously battled his way through 28 months of chemotherapy, nine major surgeries, and numerous complications; but he passed away just after turning 6.
Duckworth was recently reminded of this heartbreaking chapter in her life 14 years ago when her daughter made a mess with slime.
“I still find myself getting flustered with messes sometimes — just as I did with my daughter’s slime mess!” Duckworth tells Babble. “But I always remember that blue stain on the carpet when I start to feel frustrated with the messes. When you lose a child, it changes your perspective on so many things in life.”
She’s totally right. How often do I find myself wanting to yell over broken toys or stained clothes? My three kids are wild, and sure, it’s definitely tough to keep calm all the time; but my wild kids are also growing up super fast. Shouldn’t I savor this time that I’m blessed to have with them?
“Our hearts were forever broken that day and we miss [Jacob] more than words can express,” Duckworth tells Babble. “We are painfully aware of his absence every single day and wish so badly that he were still here — growing up with his brothers. It is always an honor to share Jacob’s story, our faith, and our grief in the hope of helping others.”
Duckworth’s personal experience and emotional words really put the mundane of day-to-day child rearing in a new light. She’s also intimately aware of what parents with sick kids in the hospital are going through, and says that if she could tell them one thing, it would be “to make sure you take time for yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help!” And also, to “always savor the good days with their child and to cling to hope.” After all, Duckworth says, “Hope gets you through many dark days!”
It certainly does.
Today, that stain serves as a constant reminder that “life is messy, but that’s what makes it worth living,” Duckworth wrote in her post. “[It’s] 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.”
Because at the end of the day, “I would have a million blue ink stains on my carpet if it meant I could have one more day with my son,” she shares.
Raising kids is a super tough job and moms and dads definitely have moments of wanting to snap. But Duckworth’s simple story about the blue stain on her carpet also serves as a heartfelt reminder to us all about how fragile and fleeting life can be.