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I recently ran across an unpublished column I wrote when my children were much younger. It’s funny how some things change yet stay the same. Now that my kids are in middle school and high school, I’m still a trash collector –  just different things – sports equipment, random bottles of nail polish and school papers. But just as before, I am so thankful for my role as a “trash collector.”

It’s time to share this piece …..

I sometimes think my job as a mother resembles that of a trash collector — up at the crack of dawn and picking up after people all day.

First, there’s the breakfast mess. There’s the sausage and waffles with syrup. Each tiny square of waffle must have syrup on it, or it’s not good enough. Syrup makes a fine mess on the table and on the floor and usually on the pajamas, too. My daughter’s bowl of Frosted Flakes ends up more in her hair and on the floor than in her mouth. On weekends, my husband likes to get donuts. And of course, kids only eat the kind with sprinkles. Tiny little green and red sprinkles scattered across my once clean kitchen floor. And to top it all off, there’s usually a spill. Orange juice and apple juice specks all over the room.

After breakfast, the p.j.s are thrown off and scattered in different rooms in the house – some in the living room where my son watches “Sponge Bob Square Pants.” Some in the sitting room, where my husband likes to dress the kids. Some in the bathroom, where Pull-ups are left on the floor, wet once again from the night before.

Then, it’s outside to play with the trucks in the mud. Shoes on, please, I yell for the tenth time. Then it’s in for a snack with a muddy Tonka truck driven across the floor. Pretty soon, it’s lunch and the food mess comes again. Clean the table, sweep the floor for the second time before noon.

The toys and the books slowly spread throughout the house as the day progresses. The swords and the balls and the action figures, too. Then it’s time for supper and more food and more sweeping.

After supper, it’s craft time — crayons and Legos, and I cringe at the requests of Play Doh. My daughter loves to color but only after she breaks each crayon and bites off the tips. My oldest son loves to make snowflakes and leaves a pile of scrap paper under his chair as he joyfully cuts away filling our windows with décor. Like any good mother, I try my hardest to keep only one color of Play Doh out at a time. But it’s so much more fun to get out the whole rainbow and mix them together and divide them up into tiny little balls all over the house. We once had a toy vacuum cleaner covered with tiny chunks of Play Doh. It was very creative, I have to admit.

By night, all I feel like I’ve accomplished that day is picking up toys and crumbs and debris – just like a trash collector.

But then I think, what else would I be doing if I wasn’t picking up things? I’d be sitting there wishing I had three kids. Three kids who love to play with toys and be creative with mud and with Play Doh and scissors. How boring my life would be if all I had to do was sit around with nothing to pick up each day.

A trash collector’s job isn’t so bad after all.

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson is a writer, a mother of three children and farm wife living in South-Central Nebraska. She puts her creative skills to use as editor of Nebraska Family Magazine at and helps non-profits and small businesses share their stories in her public relations business, KRJPR.

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