I walked into my 8-year-old son’s room and found chaos. 

I found broken LEGOs everywhere, making it hard for me to cross the room without cursing. 

I found 12 different socks with no matching pairs.

I found his underwear, lying racing stripes up, awaiting my arrival. 

I found a perfect imprint of his dirty little body on his sheets that could easily be mistaken for a crime scene. 

I found pointy weapons carved out of wood everywhere. Good to know we have something to defend ourselves if an army of zombies were to attack.

I found the clean clothes I asked him to hang up a few days ago exactly where I left themon the floor.

I found his dirty clothes hung upside down in his closet. How he did it, I have no idea.

I found endless amounts of trash in shoeboxes stacked neatly under his bed. 

I found boogers. EWW. So many boogers. I can’t write that without gagging.

I found a pile of 10 soggy towels that had collected a musty, bacteria smell and were possibly harboring tiny creatures.

I found an unraveled toilet paper roll by his bed, disheveled by attempts to listen to my advice on putting his boogers in their rightful place. 

I found old candy wrappers under his pillow, in his pockets, and inside his pillowcase. He’s getting smarter. 

I found his chore list we made together that lasted a few days crumpled up in a corner. 

Then. Then, I decided to look a little deeper, under the chaos. This is what I found.

Also on his dresser, I found a dried-up hummingbird moth in a mason jar we found together a few months ago. 

I found his rock collection consisting of 200 different rockseach carry a memory he remembers vividly. 

I found LEGO creations I couldn’t even attempt to make that he built in a few minutes. 

I found all of his books that spark his imagination and make for incredible conversation starters stacked neatly under his pillow. He sleeps on them.

I found crumpled up pieces of paperhis unsatisfactory attempts at drawing a house for the girl he has a crush on at school. 

I found the picture of a dragon I drew for him on his sixth birthday taped with scotch tape above his pillow. It falls down every time he gets in bed, only for him to stick it back up.

I found his collection of materials to look at under his microscope, including a sample of his blood he got after getting a paper cut, a dried-up raisin (hopefully), and a piece of our cat’s claw that shed off at some point. 

I found a copy of The Great Men of Scienceno really, he read the whole thing. 

I found the shoebox that carried the little, helpless, baby bird we found fallen from a nest. I found his tear-stained pillow that captured the tears that fell after I told him the baby bird didn’t make it.

I found a hanging owl he made out of wood in kindergarten that one time we lived in Germany. 

I found a giant piece of wood shaped like Mjölnir, Thor’s weapon, that we found by a lake this summer, along with petrified animal droppings, dried up dragonflies, and fossils.

After I looked deeper, my anger about his messy room subsided. Amongst his chaos are so many treasures that embody who my son is and all of the sweet memories he holds dear. That I hold dear.

He’s the bravest, most adventurous, creative, sensitive, most beautiful soul I have ever met. 

If I were to only glance at a messy room, I would miss the mark as his mom. If I were only looking for his missteps, I would neglect his heart.

But seriously, son. Go clean your room. 


Hillary Gruener

Hillary Gruener is a wife, mother, and musician, and writer for her lifestyle blog Word From The Bird. Her family is her everything, and she spends her free time outside gardening.