Well Lived

"Well lived" by Ann K. Frailey (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Pixabay.com (2018), CC0 Public Domain

My youngest son decided to reorganize his room today, and when I went to check, I saw that he had piled a stack of box springs and mattresses on top of each other to rival something out of The Princess and the Pea. He called it King Sized. Yep. I’d say so. I swallowed and merely asked him not to fall off in the middle of the night and break himself into Humpty-Dumpty pieces. He assured me he’d be careful.

I had a sudden memory of the first time one of my boys climbed a tree, reaching what my mother’s heart considered dizzying heights. I knew at the time that climbing trees was a normal pastime for kids — I had climbed plenty in my day — but still, I had the urge to ask him to get back to earth. An urge I resisted.

Later as I plodded up the steps with my umpteenth load of laundry, I noticed that my formerly clean counter was now hosting what looked like a rather odd science experiment involving toothpaste, shampoo, and baking soda. I didn’t even ask. Just waved my hand in a “You know what you’ll be doing when you’re done — right?” attitude. “Please don’t spill it all over the floor” didn’t even need to be verbalized.

Sometimes I wonder what a stranger might think if he or she wandered into our home on any ordinary day. It’s generally quiet, though the piano is played quite a bit. Holidays and birthdays are celebrated in style with a cleaning frenzy right before. With laughter.

But more often than not, there are piles of books here and there. Pencils and papers scattered about. Drawings half-finished on the couch. Knitting projects proudly ensconced on a living room chair. Woodworking projects clutter the basement floor. Broken floor tiles skitter underfoot. Light smoke from the wood stoves tints the walls. A couple door handles are loose.

It is a well-used house. The kitchen sink is practically never empty, even though I (and the kids) do dishes the livelong day. The washer and dryer have given us their hearts and souls several times over. Footsteps patter upstairs or down the steps constantly. A door opens and shuts like a heartbeat.

We are not living in a magazine. Nor would I want to. The kids learn from taking their room apart and building glorious beds. They see new heights from the tops of trees. They practice drawing a face … or a landscape … a hundred times over and scatter the results everywhere. Birdhouses are built and hammered on posts outside. The birds come, lay eggs, and their lives join with ours.

There will be a day when the footsteps will fall silent. When the beds are made to perfection and the counter will stay clean for days on end.

I do not forward to that day. I am content with reality right now.

Our lives may not be perfect, but they are well lived.

Copyright 2019 Ann K. Frailey


About Author

Ann Frailey home schools and maintains a rural homestead with her children and their numerous critters. She is definitely outnumbered. She is currently writing short stories, a HeartBeats series, a new science fiction novel, and a historical fiction & science fiction blend. To check out her novels and stories or find information about her other work, please visit AKFrailey.com.


  1. A beautiful reflection on “this old house” in the well-worn, well-lived motif. I still kick myself when my daughter at age 6 (she’s now 12) came feverishly running into the backyard carrying all the scrap pieces of wood from the basement. She wanted to build a fort underneath the deck of our new house. (I did not want to start hammering into the beams.) And I remember her sigh. She was deflated. Her new neighborhood friends were coming over…and they were all set to build a fort!
    Somehow we got passed that. (There’s a big trampoline in the back yard now). But at the time, I ached with the reality principle stifling my child’s creativity and imagination.
    I am glad for all the times she shows me her drawings and things she does online since then. And I know, like your article, there will come a time when I will miss that and remember it as much as I remember that day she brought all that wood out of the basement.

  2. Thanks, Jay:) It’s always a struggle to know when to allow…and when to put a hold on a project. But such is parenthood…a juggle of herculean efforts, love, and imperfections. That’s undoubtedly why God must be in the equation for anything to work out well. I can hear His sigh echo mine many days. But I suspect that He’s smiling.

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