On why I did not shower today.
I am looking at a one of those Willow Tree statues. You know the ones. In their earth tones and antiqued textures, they capture life’s most valuable moments. To be honest I used to not really care for those statues. But, just like becoming a parent makes you change your perspective, you learn to appreciate things like Willow Tree statues.
The piece I’m looking at has a mother with a infant on her knee and a child by her side. Her arms are around both of them. The baby’s head is turned in towards mommy, and the young son, standing by her side, is looking up into her face. The mom is leaning in, holding, loving, enjoying her children. Is she looking away? Is she distracted by some kind of duty? Is she cleaning something? Is she looking at the clock? No, she is completely tuned in with her kids.
This statue brought up some feelings of what happened to me today…
This morning I woke up before the alarm, and the pressures of the the day, the week, were already trickling into my sleepy brain. I looked at the time, rolled over and tried to to get in those last 15 minutes . . . but I couldn’t. My thoughts started to fester and a haphazard list of my duties started popping into my head like those talking bubbles in a comic book: “Have to make 50 of mom’s homemade rolls for early Thanksgiving Dinner this weekend…. have to finish washing the clothes from the camping trip…..it’s like a never ending mountain…have to get the dryer fixed! …Have to hang out all those clothes to dry…maybe I should just burn them….have to rearrange conflicts in schedule this weekend…have to clean the kitchen….I swear I JUST mopped that floor….have to make more food…..that apple pie takes 1 1/2 hours to bake but it’s Jeff’s favorite….and mine….why did I sign up to make Grandma’s famous stuffing?….no it’s not stuffing it’s dressing my mom would say….you don’t stuff it in the turkey, it’s on the side….whatever, it’s still a lot of work….have to exercise!”
These were just some of the things going through my head. These were the “Have To’s.” Then there were the other things. I promised Chunk #1 that he could ride his bike to school today. Then there’s Chunk #2’s music class that she loves. These things took time: Chunk #1 needed my company as he is only in 1st grade. And then Chunk #2’s class was clear out in Summerlin.
I didn’t want to face the day. I let the alarm ring at 7:00, 7:08, 7:16 and then, after really not sleeping, I rolled out of bed to face my duties and attempt the juggling act. Then something started repeating in my head: “I’ve got to get all my ducks in a row. I’ve got to get all my ducks in a row.”
That’s a funny phrase. Why was I saying it? I don’t know, but I kept repeating it like a broken record (or for my younger readers, a damaged mp3 file).
My brain was overwhelmed with this haphazard list of “To Do’s”. I needed clarity. I needed to stop festering. I needed to just start doing something. I tackled the kitchen while Chunk #1 bathed. I brought in some clothes off the line and hung the next batch that had been waiting since last night. I groaned at the idea of really having to finish the mountain of laundry this way. All the while, my brain kept repeating, “I need to get all my ducks in a row.”
“Shut up!” It was only 7:30 and I was losing my mind.
So I stopped right there in my family room, dropped to my knees in front of the couch, and started a prayer. My spastic pleading had words like “help” and “organize” and “slow down time” and “maybe while all this gets done could you please finish the house?” and then more “help”. I closed my clumsy prayer and immediately the thought came: “Just enjoy it. Just love it all.”
Enjoy hanging out laundry?
Enjoy making rolls and stuffing/dressing for 50 people? (and not just any rolls or stuffing. These are moms special recipes. They need to taste like hers did. THAT’S A LOT OF PRESSURE!)
Enjoy trying to juggle these things while trying to make life fulfilling and happy for my children?
The answer was “Yes. Just enjoy being a mom.”
So I did it.
I got up from the floor and I put on my running clothes. While Chunk #1 rode his bike, I’d run Chunk #2 in the stroller. #1 gets the joyful experience of being a big boy and riding his bike to school and I get to exercise. Two birds. One stone. Yay.
Ok what about #2’s class? I needed to shower! …Or did I? We got home, I changed, cleaned up best I could and then plunked a turquoise flower headband on my head. It looked fabulous. This would be my happy flower. And away we went.
I was especially aware of my attitude change the rest of the day.
After music class we ran to the grocery store. I complimented Chunk #2 on her big help rather than saying “walk faster!”
Later, since Chunk #2 had such a good time in music class she was content to draw while I started the rolls and pie. Once I got going and she was bored with drawing, I slowed down to let her work the appler/corer/slicer/peeler. A real treat. She added the ingredients to the Apple Pie. She felt big. I relished the look on her face rather than rushing through, thinking, “I could do this so much faster all by myself.” A thought I am guilty of on many occasions.
Other dilemmas arose. The rolls had to be shaped before I went to get Chunk #1 so there would be enough time to run there and let him ride his bike. The dough wasn’t rising fast enough as I could hear the clock tick. What to do, what to do? Drive there, tell him he can ride home another day? It would make life easier, and yet, how could I make this more fun for all of us?
Of course. My bike almost called to me “Hello! I’m right in front of your face!” It’s true, it sits right in the courtyard in front of our Blue Bungalow. I beat down the dough in the trusty Bosch and hoped it wouldn’t overflow by the time I got back. I pumped up my tires while answering a phone call (needed to make cookies for this Sunday…the proverbial rain was pouring here), and hooked up the trailer. #2 and I rushed out the door and headed for the school.
Why was I doing this for the boy? I’ll tell you why. It’s because I say “No” so much to my kids. Why not create more “Yes” opportunities when possible?
I especially enjoyed running and riding behind my son today because I felt like those moments were a bit symbolic. Him, eagerly moving ahead, Me, trying to keep up, yelling directions on where to go and when to stop or suggestions on handling the busy road. All I could do was hope he was listening to me rather than the noise and traffic of the world.
But I digress….
As we walked in the door I could see the bread dough over flowing from the Bosch. Great. “Enjoy it” returned the thought. Yes, it was funny. Sticky, but funny.
The kids helped me make the rolls, I almost lost my patience….but I didn’t. El Jefe got home just in time. Just in time for what? Oh ya, did I mention that I forgot I had Visiting Teaching? “When will I shower!?” I thought. More importantly, “What will the family eat for dinner?”
My VT companion picked me up. I shouted out baking instructions for the rolls as we ran out the door and got in her truck. Just as we were about to leave I saw #2 standing on the sidewalk crying for mommy. Again, I vacillated between annoyance and enjoyment. We were in a hurry, but no. There is time to console my sad daughter, my daughter who loves me and doesn’t want me to go. I carried her into the house with kisses and squeezes, showed her to El Jefe who didn’t know she left and looked at the clock.
“Oh no! I have an hour til writing class!”
“What?!” says he.
“I’m sorry, the day got away.” Meanwhile I’m figuring the dinner menu.
“Well, just go. Don’t worry about us.”
I bounded down the driveway for a second time and jumped into the truck. Away we went. We refilled our spiritual cups for about 45 minutes. Refreshing.
I came home, burst through the door to find my husband unloading warm rolls onto cooling racks. What a man. Seriously. I didn’t tell him how much in love with him I was at that very moment. As I gathered up my purse and pen and saw #1 and #2 savoring a roll, I announced, “Warm rolls and cold cereal for dinner!” Perfect.
Actually the day was not perfect at all. As I sit in this class, reflecting, I realize that I didn’t finish cleaning the kitchen, in fact it got worse. I didn’t figure out my schedule conflict for the weekend. I only hung out a few more loads of laundry and only folded half of that. I didn’t do a LOT of other “Have to’s”. But what’s a “have to” compared to my kids and their experiences today? The Chunks will remember #1’s first bike ride to school. #2 will remember “Going on a Bear Hunt” and “Albequerque Turkey”. My kids will remember my positive reinforcement (though sometimes given through gritted teeth) of being such wonderful helpers. Have to, Shmave to.
Thank goodness for stopping to pray. Thank goodness for for my positive reinforcement from up above (is it, too, given through gritted teeth?) as this child learns her place as a mother. Thank goodness for this writing class so I can pause, reflect and write about how I enjoyed being a mom today. And no, I never did shower, but, in case you’re wondering, the turquoise flower in my hair still looks fabulous.