Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Fingerprints on the Wall

By Katie Romano Griffin

“Don’t touch the walls! The oils on your hands will leave marks!”
—Mamá Romano

For most of my childhood, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. She focused on managing our household and raising two rambunctious children with passion and verve. And our house? When I think back to those years, two scents come to mind: Garlic cooking on the stove, because all good meals start with garlic, right? And bleach, because nothing is truly clean in the house unless it has met with bleach. When she wasn’t corralling my brother and me or magically making pennies stretch, we were just as likely to see my mom salsa dancing with the fridge—celebrating life while making dinner—as we were to see her using bleach to scrub a fingerprint only she could see off the wall.

In a kitchen, a mother with an iPod and headphones dances and sings while her teenage daughter also dances.

My household has never been the tight ship my mom ran, but my walls were somehow fingerprint-free until the pandemic hit. My oldest son moved home when he lost all of his jobs in one day. My youngest was suddenly taking online school and we parents were working from home full-time. Within weeks there was chaos in the house. Fingerprints were everywhere, dust bunnies materialized in corners, missing socks multiplied, and I had to relearn 10th grade history between zoom appointments.

One night I was sipping on a glass of Malbec and staring at a fingerprint on the wall as the boys were having their second (or third?) post-dinner snack. In that moment I realized how much I cherished that fingerprint. As challenging as this time has been, it has also been a gift to have both of my children together. As they get older, it seems harder and harder for us to be together in the same place. So I’m leaving the fingerprints on the walls, even as they return to their jobs and busier lives as things reopen. I’m also salsa dancing with the fridge as I prepare each meal I get to share with them at home as we lean into these times together.

Prayer

Spirit of Life and love moving in us and through all things, remind me to release that which no longer serves me in my relationships so that I may be present to the joy of them. May it be so. Amen and Blessed Be.