I’ve been a mother now for almost eleven years. I’ve been homeschooling for six years. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, grown and changed immensely since my first little pink person was put on my chest. I’m wider, more wrinkled and wearier but I’m also more confident, happier and wiser than I ever was before having children. Since we began our family, I’ve learned that everything changes. Babies grow, people die, houses get sold, jobs get lost and new, better ones found. Sometimes you have to stop everything, switch gears, regroup and go a different direction.
With all this talk of lessons learned and wisdom being gained, you’d think I’d have some vast piece of knowledge to bestow upon you, right? Well, you’re wrong…because I got nothin’. I don’t have anything figured out and my parental acumen is sadly small. I have three kids that know how to use the toilet, but do you think I know how to potty train a kid? I have no idea.
The older I get, the more I realize that I really have no control over anything. What I want and what will happen are usually two entirely different things. I’m so dense that I still believe day after day that I will be able to wake up and somehow get everything done. My kids will be clean with their teeth and hair brushed, the house will be cleaned and school work done my 2pm. My babies will nap and I will lovingly tutor my older children at the kitchen table while I simmer a delicious and healthy meal on the stove. I will have everyone in bed by 8:30pm and be able to have a couple hours of quiet time before bed with no interruptions. I will devote one hour to writing, prayer and reading in the morning before the kids wake up. It’s never ending mental dialogue that I run with myself and each day, I find myself more or less disappointed that another twenty-four hours has come and gone without the perfection I so desperately seek.
What Could Be
I’m an optimist. I’m always seeing what could be in everything – people, houses, art work, dirty carpet, old furniture. I look at myself and my home each day and see what could be. More often than not, this causes me to be hard on myself and disillusioned with the good things I actually do accomplish. On a recent particularly crazy morning where by 8:30am, the dog had barfed twice on the rug, the baby had crawled through said barf, I had burned eggs and the four year old had dumped $5 worth of raw milk onto the floor, I found myself turning circles and wondering what the crap was going on. All I do is struggle and spin my tires every day and nothing ever seems to progress.
I saw piles of laundry in baskets everywhere, art work and paper piles all over the counters, a sink full of dishes and dirt an inch thick in the corners of the floors. Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t live in a den of filth and things are relatively sanitary – it’s just messy as all get out.
I had an epiphany. While my children are young, I won’t get everything done. I.just.won’t. On many more nights in the future, I’ll go to bed with the floors unswept and the dishes dirty. Laundry will pile up on the couch in the living room. I won’t have quiet time when I want it.
Make a List
So, I sat down and started a list of things that won’t change – things that have been a fact of life since we started having kids. Things that I’ve got to let go of so that I can focus my energy elsewhere…like enjoying my kids while they’re little because I’ll blink it will be over.
Turns out, making this list of “hills that I don’t need to die on” proved to be cathartic. Writing them down and making peace with them cleared my head and made room for more important issues. It also reminded me to be thankful that I have these little annoyances in my life. They are reminders of the fact that I have these little people who God blessed me with that make my life purposeful and meaningful. They give me a reason to try harder and do more each day.
I highly recommend making a list of “crap that doesn’t really matter” and hanging it on your fridge.
The laundry will never be done.
There will always be dirty dishes. (because let’s face it, they never stop eating)
The counters will always be piled with art work, school work, school books, sports equipment, craft supplies, dishes, toys and personal hygiene products. (Unless we have someone coming to stay with us, in which case this list is null because I will fiendishly run around cleaning for a week before they arrive and attempt to make it appear that my house is always clean and orderly)
The floors may go up to two weeks without being swept and/or mopped.
There will always be shoes on the porch and in the floor directly in front of the door.
There will always be fingerprints on the appliances (as well as dents and dog slobber) and a mass of art work on the fridge that moves when I open the door and paper goes flying everywhere.
There will always be something splashed on the cabinets that has crusted and will need to be chiseled off.
The bathroom mirrors will always have a gob of toothpaste and/or soap squirted on them and there will always be an unflushed turd in the toilet.
Areas that are hidden or too tall for me to see such as on top of the fridge, shelves and behind the TV will always be thick with dust.
The couches will always have opaque white smears of unknown origin on them.
There will always be rogue socks.
The kid dish cabinet (floor level cabinet so they can get their own dishes and put them away) will always be a mess as long as there is a child under age two in the house.
The windows will always be dirty. There are several reasons for this; a dog has licked them, a human has licked them, the rain that shot sideways and up in the recent storm made them spotty, a toddler “washed” them with a used diaper wipe or someone wiped a booger on them.
The comforter on our bed will always be questionable.
I will never finish my summer reading list.
I won’t get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis as long as we still have children under age 5.
I won’t get quiet time, personal time, bathroom time or shower time on a regular basis until the youngest child is at least 7.
The kitchen table will always be crumby and the highchair will always be just a little funky.
The trashcans will almost always be overflowing. As long as it’s not with poop diapers, then we’re all okay.
Children and husbands will always want to eat three or more times per day. (I only have one husband, so I’m not sure why I pluralized that)
I will always have to hide in the pantry to eat spoonfuls of Nutella for the rest of my life.
Photo credit: www.everystockphoto.com