Looking after a toddler can be very hard work. Heather Duckworth can certainly relate to that, as she raised four children with her husband, three of which were triplets. During their younger years, one of the kids stained the carpet blue, but 14 years later the mess still reduces his mom to tears.
A resident of Tampa, Florida, Duckworth is now the mother of five children, having also adopted a daughter. Her young sons are set to graduate from high school later this year, but in April 2018 she started to reminisce about their childhoods. The memories were seemingly triggered when she faced down a sticky stain on her floor.
“The other night, I was scrubbing up some slime that my daughter had let ooze through her fingers and slip onto the floor,” Duckworth wrote on Facebook in April 2018. “The slime craze is big in our house, and it often leaves behind a sticky, gooey mess.”
“My daughter had cleaned up most of it, but I was scrubbing the grout where the slime was stuck and I was starting to get slightly irritated with this mess,” Duckworth continued. “It felt like slime was everywhere! But then all of a sudden I remembered another time in my life when I was cleaning up a big mess many years ago, and the memories came flooding back.”
Around 14 years ago, Duckworth’s triplets were two years old, while her oldest son was four. With that in mind, she really had her hands full, looking after a quartet of very young children. As a result, the mother didn’t have much time to herself and often felt drained at the end of each day.
However, that didn’t seem to bother her at the time. “Every second of my day was tending to their needs, and although I was completely exhausted, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Duckworth recalled on Facebook. “My hands were full, but so was my heart.”
One night in particular, though, proved somewhat challenging, as the boys prepared themselves for bed. After eating dinner and taking their baths, the quartet were then summoned into their playroom, as Duckworth wanted them to clear up their toys before going to sleep. However, within a few minutes, things had taken a turn for the worse.
“I was quickly putting toys away, anxious to get my crew in bed so that maybe I could have a few minutes to shower,” Duckworth explained. “When all of a sudden, I heard one of the boys say, ‘Uh-oh.’ I turned just in time to see blue ink spraying all over the carpet as a pen exploded in the hand of one of my triplets.”
Facing an incredible mess, Duckworth sprang into action. “I gasped as I saw blue splatters across the floor and a thick pool of ink sinking into our carpet – our brand new carpet,” she wrote. “I instantly felt so upset as I grabbed my son and took him to the bathroom to clean him up, and my husband started scrubbing those bright blue stains on our carpet.”
However, despite her immediate feelings of anger and frustration, Duckworth refused to blame her son for what happened. Instead, she took accountability, telling herself that she shouldn’t have left the pen near the toddler. After cleaning him up, the mother then joined her husband, and they tried their best to remove the stain.
“We scrubbed that stain for an hour that night, but yet it remained,” Duckworth continued. “The next day, we had the carpet cleaners come out… and they treated it several times, but that stain didn’t even fade… it just glared back at me, bright and blue.”
To Duckworth, the ink stain represented a big failure on her part, as she continued to blame herself for what happened. “I hated it,” she admitted. However, a few weeks later, everything changed for her family, after they received some truly heart-breaking news.
“The next month, my sweet son, the one who splattered blue ink all over our carpet was diagnosed with cancer,” Duckworth wrote. “Two years later, he passed away. My son was gone, but that blue ink stain? It was still there… and now… it was a constant reminder of my son.”
With that in mind, the mother and her husband found ways to hide the stain using their furniture, but it never went away. Indeed, whenever Duckworth went about cleaning that room, she often came face-to-face with it, bringing back memories of her son before his passing.
However, despite the pain that it caused her, the stain came to encapsulate a heart-warming mantra of Duckworth’s. “It reminds me that life is messy,” she wrote. “But those messes? They come from living and loving and growing and learning. They make me feel grateful. And they are a blessing in disguise.”
“And you know what?” Duckworth added. “I would have a million blue ink stains on my carpet if it meant I could have one more day with my son.” Fourteen years later, the heartbroken mother was faced with a different stain on her floor – and it stirred up some incredibly powerful emotions.
“Fresh tears streamed down my cheek as I cleaned that slime with a new perspective – finding the bless in this mess – and thanking God for the whisper to keep my heart thankful and focused on what is important in life,” Duckworth’s post concluded.
Duckworth posted that heartfelt message on a Facebook page that she’d created, named Love, Faith & Chaos. Titled “The Blue Stain,” her words have earned over 1,000 likes and as many shares from users on the social media website. But the story’s popularity didn’t end there.
Indeed, “The Blue Stain” was soon re-published on websites such as Love What Matters, earning thousands of additional likes and shares. Duckworth’s words clearly resonated with an online audience, and she continues to produce content on her Facebook page that celebrates the intricacies of family life.
In April 2018 a bittersweet memory came flooding back to Heather Duckworth. However, despite the sadness that it evoked, the story of the blue ink stain still has an encouraging message behind it. As the mother herself so succinctly put it, “Life is messy, but that’s what makes it worth living.”