Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pluggers 'R' Us

Here's my latest definition of a parent: One who regularly utters/thinks the phrase: "I can't do this," and then, somehow, despite believing it rather impossible, DOES it.

I wish I had a dime for every time I've thought that I just couldn't make it through the day, like I'd just had it, I was too tired, I wanted to retreat to my room and lie down and sleep or read a good book while my children magically took care of themselves (note: don't get overly concerned about me. I'm fine, and I think I'm pretty normal). Or that I sure would love to call my husband and demand that he come home from work STAT. Or that I'd rather sit on the couch and watch The Office, while that sink full of dirty dishes just washed itself, since after all, I'd had a long day and deserved a break.

But guess what? You just keep moving, one foot in front of the other, one scrubbed toilet after the next, one sibling arbitration at a time. Or as Dory would say, you just KEEP SWIMMING. It doesn't matter what you can't do -- it has to be done, and so you DO. Until you find that it's DONE, and you DID it, and you're still alive and kicking, and the water has not claimed you after alll.

So this morning, I intended to write a lovely post about how the glorious time my children and I had at the GAHA summer kick-off party at the downtown sprinkler park. With gleeful photos, radiating summer-lovin' joy!

But we didn't make the party. Instead, my children learned from a logical consequence, that if Mama has to keep reminding you to do the same five things you're expected to do every morning (a.k.a. The Morning List), Mama does not have the energy to take you out for a special treat like that. A bummer indeed, but a rather rare opportunity to learn this lesson without hurting any friends' feelings by canceling a playdate, or wasting money by missing a class.

I am making a conscious effort, you see, to either dole out the logical consequences or allow the natural ones very calmly and consistently, rather than reacting emotionally to frustrating behavior. I'm working to notice and highlight, to actively seek out, their successes, however minor they may seem, and make a big deal out of THOSE instead.

Here's something that's helped us, in case you happen to have a high-maintenance child, or one with whom you find yourself engaging in more negative energy than you'd like: every night, at bedtime, each of you get to name a success from his/her day. The child reflects a moment he's proud of, and you point out a moment you noticed. "When your sister won that game of Go Fish, you didn't have a meltdown or stomp away. You held it together and let her enjoy the moment, and you even played another round. That was really good sportsmanship!"

It's easy to love parenting when you're snuggled up together with a nice picture book, or filling the home with tempting aromas from baked goods you've created together (both of which we ended up doing this morning). But those other moments? When you'd like to just check out and hand the kids over to a hypercapable nanny? They're all part of that same package -- and when you choose to homeschool, you sign up for more of both kinds -- more fun and laughter, more trials and desperate appeals for wisdom.

"In all these things we more than conquer through Him who has loved us." (Romans 8:37)


Jenny said...

Wish you'd had a perfect day...but from a selfish perspective glad to hear I'm not the only one who has "those kind" of days. Hope tomorrow is better!

Stephanie said...

It is so encouraging to hear another mother's tribulations and triumphs - thanks for sharing. Your tribulations remind us that we are not alone (or abnormal) and your triumphs inspire us to just keep swimmin! Grace to you!