As Sherry looked at the red stain, she smiled as her mind went back to the day the stain happened. With five kids all under six in the house, even a quick bathroom break was a rare treat if her husband wasn’t home to help with the kids. That’s why she had been so happy that all five children had finally fallen asleep at the same time for a nap. As she slipped into the bathroom, three-year-old Kevin and five-year-old Daniel got out of bed, snuck into their mother’s room, and pulled something off of her shelf.
The scene that met Sherry when she came out of the bathroom brought her to tears. Kevin and Daniel had gotten into her fabric paints, and they had painted a section of the light blue living room carpet red. The carpet was fairly new, and Sherry knew that they were not going to be able to replace it. Since they had used her fabric paints, she was also pretty sure that the paint was not going to come out of the carpet very easily either. She didn’t look forward to the time it going to take to attempt to get any of the paint out of the carpet. Yet, she also knew that she was really the only one to blame for the red mess on her living room carpet. If she had put the fabric paints somewhere out of the reach of her children, she never would have had to worry about the mess that was now on her floor.
“Mommy, why are you crying?” Kevin asked her in that innocent voice that let her know that her son had no idea that he had done something wrong.
“Don’t you like our flowers? We made them just like you make,” Daniel told his mom proudly.
Sherry looked over at the mess on the floor. The red spots did look a little like some sort of flowers. She realized that her sons were only trying to do like they had seen her do. Of course, she hadn’t drawn the flowers on the living room floor, but she now understood that they had thought this was something that would make her happy.
“They are beautiful,” Sherry managed to choke out even though she still felt sad about the portion of the carpet her sons had destroyed. “Next time, though, make sure and ask before you borrow Mommy’s paints.”
Now, twenty years later, the red stain on the carpet was still there as a reminder of so many things. It was a reminder of what life was like having five young children. The stain was also a reminder of the pure, unharmed love of children. They had only meant to make her happy when they had painted the carpet red. The stain was a reminder to her of how important it was to cherish those days, because they don’t last forever. Now, instead of five young children of her own, she had five adult children, two sons-in-law, three daughters-in-law, and seven grandchildren.
“Mrs. Anderson, we’re ready to bring up the carpet,” the man who had come to install new carpeting told her.
“Just a minute,” Sherry responded.
She leaned down and touched the carpet one last time. The red had faded over the years until it was now a pinkish color. Yet, it looked as much like a flower now as it did that day twenty years ago. The memories of that day and lessons that came of the experience had not faded that much. She now knew that childhood was a precious gift that needed to be treasured. She understood that the small mishaps of life often led to the greatest rewards. She was glad that she had decided to not try and clean-up the mess that day. The happy look on her sons’ faces had been worth having those spots on the carpet for years.
“Is there any way that we can cut apart the carpet and save this little portion?” Sherry asked, pointing to her treasured flowers.
“Sure, we can do that,” the carpet installer responded, looking like he wanted to know more of the story, but Sherry just smiled, not sure if he would understand the significance of the story even if she told him.
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