A House Full of Gravel


In my house, I sweep up gravel on a daily basis. It’s at the front entrance, the back door, and the areas in between. It’s in the kitchen, the main floor bathroom, the laundry room. It’s everywhere.

And I’m fine with it.

The gravel comes in by way of my two boys and my husband – and sometimes even from me. It hides in our pockets and clings to our clothes. It coats the underside of my camera bag. Its favourite stowaway place, though, is the kids’ cleats. In addition to being stuck in the bottom of their shoes, there is a surprising amount inside them. When they pull their feet out, the tiny stones rain down with a noise that signals it’s time to sweep again.

And I’m fine with it.

Both my boys play baseball, and my husband is an assistant coach on both teams. At the height of the season, there are games and practices nearly every night and tournaments nearly every weekend. Many of these events take place out of town, so our car is full of gravel, too.

And I’m fine with it.

I’m fine with it because my kids are dedicating themselves to a sport they love. They’re getting quality time with their dad, who lives and breathes the game. They’re being active, they’re learning physical skills and they’re spending time outside (as evidenced by the never-ending trail of dust, dirt and red infield clay).

I’m fine with it because they’re learning about sportsmanship, dedication, commitment and work ethic. They’re working alongside teammates through the ups and downs of a season. They’re absorbing their coaches’ wisdom. They’re learning what it means to give an all-out effort – to keep trying when others might fade out.

And if all of that means a little gravel in my house, so be it.

Sometimes it’s a case of the more gravel, the better. When the boys arrive home from a workout, turn their shoes upside down and pour out an extra-hefty helping of dirt, it’s like a point of pride for them. It means they’ve been diving after the ball, making the plays, being tough, working hard. It means they’ve given their very best. It’s hard to imagine them getting the same exhausted satisfaction from a video game or electronic device.

That’s why I’m fine with it.

I realize that it won’t always be this way. Eventually, my young ballplayers will grow up and move on to other things. They may pursue another sport or have other responsibilities like a part-time job. When that happens, my front hall will be a lot cleaner, but my heart will be wistful.

In your house, maybe it’s not gravel that covers your floor. Maybe it’s grass or mud or bits of turf. Maybe you’re constantly washing sweat-soaked jerseys or taking skates to be sharpened or folding Lycra tights. Whatever it is, take a moment to feel good about it. It’s a sign that your family is active and involved in something positive. It’s a lot of work, but it won’t last forever. And it’s worth it.

That’s why I’ll never complain or gripe about sweeping up gravel. I’m fine with it. In fact, bring it on.

Picture of Kristi York

Author: Kristi York

Kristi York is a freelance writer and mom of two sports-loving boys. She is a regular contributor to ParentsCanada magazine, Running Room magazine, and the ParticipACTION website.

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