“Listen, guys. As soon as you get home tonight, we are doing homework, then dinner, and straight to baths. No nonsense. I mean it this time!”
I say this with a glimmer of hope in my heart. Okay, I’m lying. It is not even 7 a.m., and I know that tonight is going to be a complete and utter disaster.
I can’t help but blame myself for the continued chaos. By the time 5 p.m. rolls around, I am shot. My kids, on the other hand, are bursting at the seams. Add sports and teacher’s meetings to any given night and my blood pressure skyrockets. Am I too old to run away?
This is not how I envisioned our evening routine. I pictured myself as one of the 70s and 80s sitcom moms that I grew up with. I am willing to bet that Mrs. Brady didn’t have all these problems controlling her kids. And she had six of them! I don’t remember seeing crumbs all over the living room sofas or underwear on the kitchen floor. Then again, she also had Alice. Oh, and they were on television and playing pretend.
As a kid, I experienced the same chaos in my household. I survived. In fact, most of us did.
Recently, I decided to switch things up a bit. I made a promise to try not to stress and be calm with my words. Mostly, I just wanted to keep my blood pressure at a normal rate for a change.
The evening began with leftover pizza heated in the stove. I didn’t even remember to put on the timer to make sure it didn’t burn. I refused to feel nary an ounce of guilt.
Then I needed to put my five-year-old son in the shower. My beautiful baby boy constantly feels the need to bring every single toy he owns in with him. He needs the company, you know. I didn’t say a word.
Then something magical happened.
After turning off the water, the kid decided to give me a hiney dance. Yup, he just stood there and shook his butt. Usually, I have no time for shenanigans at 9 p.m. However, this particular performance had me laughing for a solid 10 minutes. My son was cute. He was also very funny. It was a great memory made at a very unlikely time. There were still clothes all over the floor. I even forgot to have a towel ready, so the poor child proceeded to run out of the bathroom naked. In spite of it all, I felt blessed.
As I passed my daughter’s room, I was met with the sight of more clothes tossed on the floor.
“That’s okay,” I muttered to myself. I am sure it was an oversight on her part. She probably just missed the nearest laundry basket by a few inches. She also had a large assortment of hair bows and necklaces sprawled all over the bed. We had just bought them the previous weekend.
“I am going to look pretty tomorrow,” she said excitedly.
I agreed. She will look beautiful because she is beautiful. I smiled. All of a sudden, the clutter didn’t matter anymore. She was happy and that was all that mattered.
Early on in motherhood, friends and family warned me not to blink. They assured me that it all went way too fast. I would often fake a smile and move on. Was this what the annoying people met? Treasuring these wonderful and fleeting moments?
I thought back to my own childhood. The happy memories were scattered. The happy memories even occurred while I was being mischievous. I am sure my parents were not thrilled at the time, but we can all laugh now.
In the past few years, I have thought about my own mortality. My mom died when I was only 25. Of course, I would like to live a long live, but the reality is harsh: Each day is not promised.
I am not going to lie and say this is an easy task, but I am learning to calm down about the silly and small things. I am learning to take that breath that I so definitely need. I am laughing more. I am not only doing it for my kids, but also for me. I deserve it.
And so do you.