So I try. Everyday when I wake up I think, today is going to be better than yesterday. I am going to be positive. I am going to be joyful. I will be a great wife, role model and friend. I will be the Mom that I am called to be. And then. It happens.
It could be anything. Anything that sends me off course. If you have read my blog before, you know chaos is our normal and so we all adjust. Somedays I just am not that into adjusting.
Like, for real, can the cat just please pee inside of the litter box. I mean, she does, but just enough pee dribbles down the stairs (yes, we are blessed with a spaceship like dome, that I have the privilege of cleaning once a day, just so the dog doesn’t get her head inside and offer to eat the cat poop) because she is too lazy to go fully into her amphitheatre to do her business. I mean, I am trying to find the thankfulness in this experience but I have to say tonight, I am struggling.
I just did a load of wash that appeared to house a Lego city. Is it really that hard to check your pockets before your clothing ends up in the laundry bin? Also a product of this particular laundry experience, candy wrappers. Evidence that solved the open case addressing why the caramels in the dish in my office were dwindling. Oh, and as an added bonus, several wadded up tissues that are now stuck in the tiny holes in the washing machine, requiring me to dive head first with my feet in the air to clean them out with a toothpick. Struggling. Trying to rid my voice of aggravation as I force myself to whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for my washer, Lord, full of snotty Kleenex and all.
Once the washer is sanitized I am greeted with the wet towels that can not seem to make it to the towel hooks. Although night after night I ask these children that live here, “Where do we put our towels after we shower?” And it must be some sort of conspiracy because everyone knows the answer, “On the hooks in the bathroom!” They look at me as if I should put a gold star on their pajamas and then I ask them where they towels are currently living as I point to the empty hooks. Blank stares and some less than heartfelt renditions of “sorry” are followed by a mad sprint to scoop the sopping mess off their bedroom floors.
Oh yes, please let me try to clean that spot where the floor varnish has disintegrated due to the moisture of said towel, because I so enjoy cleaning. So much so that God gave me an opportunity I couldn’t refuse last night. A man knocked on our door, in the middle of a thunderstorm, saying he is our neighbor, whom we have yet to meet, and his cat is missing. Granted its dark and the eve of Halloween, so why don’t we just open the door and say, come on in!! He explained that the last time his cat went missing it was found in our backyard, when the old owners were here. We welcomed him in, he and his muddy cat search party boots walked through the house and back again. Sadly no cat was found, but me and my mop got pretty friendly well after bedtime. Struggling. “At least you didn’t lose your cat”, says the voice of a sweet wise child of mine. “Yes,” I say, “you are right,” as I thank God I did not lose my patience or my lovely lemon scented Pledge.
While mopping I was still struggling with the days events. Struggling to see that the “better than 20/20” vision of Child #2 was a blessing, after dragging four kids out in the pouring rain, for a totally unnecessary eye appointment. She really just needed a $5 trip to Claire’s because, you see, she faked failure on the eye exam at her physical because she left her fake glasses at Mimi and Pop-Pop’s over the summer and has yet to get them back, so she thought this would score her a new pair. Did I mention me and four children in the eye doctor waiting room for a 5:20pm appointment? A very fine line we were walking, of hunger and meltdowns, from me and the kids alike to find out she can see better than the hawk I hit with the van that afternoon, incidentally carrying his freshly caught rodent entrée. I kid you not.
So, I guess what I am trying to say is that the dishes that are staring at me from the sink as I write this are making me never want to bake from scratch again. The sheets that are lavender fresh and warm in the dryer are making me angry that I ever stripped the beds because it’s almost that time and I will need to muster the strength to Humpy Dumpy the heck out of the bedrooms. The double lined target bags sitting next to me on the counter, waiting for my routine scooping of the litter box is, Lord forgive me, wondering how bad the lost cat situation could really be? I’m kidding, but no, I’m not. I’m just being honest because this struggle is real.
It is real tonight as I look at the list of things that have to be done in order for tomorrow to run, a-hem, dare I say, smoothly? Ok, I will settle for a morning where nothing smells like its burning and I don’t have to clean of vomit, from child or animal or be a referee before 8am. This feeling floods over me because today I ignored all the things. We chose to sleep in, have breakfast together, go to church and for lunch at my Mom’s house, followed by an afternoon hike, a failed shoe shopping trip, home for a quick dinner and then out for groceries. It was a day of togetherness, of unbelievable noise, of kind words and some not so kind ones. It was real and exhausting.
As we sat on the floor putting new laces in some hand me down converse to make them feel like their own, it occurred to me. The thing we read over and over in parenting magazines. The unsolicited advice we hear from others about what really matters, what our kids will remember. I looked around at the three little ladies lacing sneakers and thought, this is it. This is the first and the last time for so many things that we don’t even know, we don’t realize. We have become numb. I have a list of chores on repeat each evening but tonight was the first and last time I taught Child #3 to tie her shoes. Her pride and grin as we both yelled, I/YOU DID IT!! The looping, swooping, pulling, the bunny ears and the rabbit through the hole, they all came together in one swift motion and she shifted. A little more independent and a little further from me.
As fall creeps in and the seasons change, we hunker down. We feel a need for stillness. We aim to stock pile the necessities and slowly prepare for the coming months, just as nature intended. As we travel the mothering road each phase has its seasons. We can not stop the falling leaves or epic snowstorms, but we can be sure we are choosey about what we stockpile. I realize I need to let go of bitterness over the burden of responsibilities and expectations I put on myself. My children aren’t noticing the dishes in the sink, but they are seeing my face as I wash those dishes with sheer contempt. They aren’t noticing me changing their sheets and hanging up towels, just that I have left the room as they call out for me.
Mama’s, I feel your weariness, I do. But when it comes time to hibernate, I wonder, what necessities have we left our little ones with for when they wake? Have we shown them what it is they need to do, have we taught them alongside of us? Like throwing brand new laces on the floor and saying let’s get to work together and then, remembering not just the skill, but the feeling, the connection. The gift of time and clarity that God has given during the struggle. I find the mental to-do list being replaced by a victory to round out the day, an enthusiastic child, a moment of warmth to store for a month when mothering is frigid and lonely, the energy to finish the job that needs to be done, to press on. There is comfort in knowing that the words my mind replays as I search for sleep whisper, tomorrow I will be mindful, tomorrow I will try to find the sparks within the mundane, to light a fire and shine, tomorrow will be better.