I keep a stash of toothbrushes in various colors, styles and sizes in a pretty tin in the bathroom. Along with toothbrushes, there are assorted soaps, spare bottles of shampoo, extra tubes of toothpaste, and other minor necessities of health and hygeine. I like to have everything handy in case something wears out or runs low. It's my job to keep everyone looking sparkly and smelling fresh and I take it seriously.
When my children's toothbrushes are looking a bit worn, I toss the old one and replace it with a new one. I try to find fun colors and special features, like tongue scrubbers and gum massagers. I never tell the children when I replace their toothbrushes. I like to leave them, quietly, like the toothbrush fairy, in each place, waiting patiently to be discovered. My children are always thrilled by this little treasure. The lucky child will exclaim over the purpleness of the purple handle and the brushiness of the bristles and magnificent suction of the suction cup that makes it stand upright on the side of the sink.
I find immense joy in their immense joy over such a mundane object. How could I not smile a bit when a child is so exhilerated by his good fortune at receiving a 25 cent plastic stick with nylon attached? When he simply must remove the plaque from his teeth this instant. He has the overwhelming need to become acquainted with his new possession, to indulge in the experience of this new thing. An ordinary rote action is magically tranformed into something new and special.
A task so small that I might perform it with almost no conscious thought has become a treasured memory. One that I will hold dear long after my children are grown, and one that I suspect my children might reflect on after I'm gone. "Remember how Mom would surprise us with toothbrushes? And we'd be so excited and she'd have us tell her all about them?"
Like the scent of pansy flower baby wash and the feel of my baby's breath against my neck are indelibly printed in my memory, I can easily picture myself walking down the aisle at the pharmacy when I'm old and gray and shedding a small tear of remembered joy when my eye rests on a dolphin shaped toddler toothbrush.
Every small task that we perform for those we love is an opportunity to express that love. By embracing my mundane chores, I can embrace my children.