Just as I get started writing each evening the baby wakes up. and then wakes again. and another time too.
As soon as I sit down for a sip of hot coffee there is a puddle of spilled milk to attend to.
Once the floor is swept the baby pushes the cheerios off the tray and the toddler reaches for the flour off the counter… and… smash.
Just as I think we are all ready to go; Diapers- check, fed- check, ergo- check, change of undies- check. It hits her, This is the WRONG jacket, Mama! and… back to the drawing board we go. This time thirty minutes late instead of fifteen.
It is in each of those moments that I have to make a choice: be overwhelmed or be moving forward (however slowly I move).
If you were to drop by my home you would likely find it cluttered. Toys and crumbs littering the ground, laundry unfolded on the couch, piles of outgrown clothes thrown at the end of the bed, and glitter- so much glitter. But you would also find this: spot on girls. Little ladies who are wide eyed at all things Christmas. A toddler mystified by my abilities to “cut a snowflake from a nothing” and who turns nearly everything she can into sprinkles (candy canes, pinto beans, rice, sand, etc.) for decorating. A baby who grins at her sister, wrestles/crawls and rumpuses with the best of them. A toddler who is stretching my patience and forcing my growth in all the ways I need it most. And a baby who is changing everything I thought I knew about babies.
Sometimes if you were to drop in you would see me choose overwhelmed. Calling Charlie for reassurance, praying out loud for patience and breath, crying hard and answering Nolie’s questions about “how’s mama feeling?”. But, more often now than before, you might see me choose forward. Choose to say yes to nearly everything I can, no matter the mess or time. Choosing to slow down and give up and in- to abandon the cleaning in favor of playing, to forgo the phone call in favor of crafting, to lavish attention and touch on a toddler who thrives when given the time.
We have hit this season hard. Being three years old is intense. Gently, lovingly, mothering a three year old is almost as intense. But instead of starting each day believing I will be overwhelmed, I am picking one fun activity and calling it good if we get through the day and are still laughing and loving. The house can go, the crafts be half done, the cookies filled with an egg-shell or two, but if at the end we are still loving; I am calling it a win.
A couple of days ago things were rough. Nolie and I were seeming to work in opposition. The more I said no, the more she pushed; And the more she pushed, the more I wanted to say no. Everything felt like it was so big and unending (I imagine we were both feeling quite the same way)… I was holding onto the end of my very frayed rope and I yelled “I am just so frustrated!” (I don’t yell often and it yielded an immediate halt in Nolie). She looked up and said, “you probably need to talk to God, Mama.” and she was so very right. And after that I needed to apologize to her, again and again each day it seems.
After my blood began to cool and we fell back into activities I sat at the table with a big mug of tea. I am far from perfect, and I have big emotions that Nolie is very privy to, but I am doing this well. Her reaction to my freakout wasn’t fear, wasn’t anger, wasn’t to run away… it was to call out for help. Even if I am failing on the house front, the organizational front, and the getting dressed every day front, I am doing something right. And thank God for my tiny little sponge for being a reflection of that good even in the toughest moments.