It’s been a rough couple of weeks coming off the holidays. I haven’t been at my most organized, and I’m getting discouraged at the normal challenges of leaving the house with a one-and-a-half-year-old and a three-year-old. I didn’t check the preschool schedule, and my son was the only one who wasn’t wearing his PJs for pajama day – big mommy fail! (To put this in perspective, 75% of school mornings the biggest challenge is getting my little guy out of his PJs because they’re his favorite thing to wear. Oh, the irony!) This morning we went to open gymnastics, where I spent the hour frantically trying to keep an eye on both boys as they zoomed from one end of the gym to the other, alternately disappearing into the bottomless pit of foam cubes and hiding in the hole of the foam mattress that effectively covers my older son up to his chin. My friends, who all only have one mobile child at this time, chatted together and socialized as they easily kept an eye on their solo children. I, on the other hand, was the picture of chaos: “Silas, don’t hit. Gentle hands.” “Thanks for pulling up my son’s pants when they fell off.” “Silas, don’t hit.” You get the picture. We followed gymnastics with a brief visit to my grandma’s to deliver lemon bars where, in the space of twenty minutes, they managed to smear chocolate donut all over her kitchen table, knock over (but thankfully didn’t break) her glass end table, and make multiple escapes out of her apartment. Let’s just say that I am not winning parenting these days.
And to complicate matters, my husband and I were supposed to have a sorely needed date night tonight that we had to cancel due to bad weather and icy roads. When we had to cancel date night, it was like my last hope for sanity fled, and I resorted to eating large amounts of Brie and obsessively checking Facebook to help me cope until he got home after 7pm, clocking in a 12-hour day. By the time he got home, the boys were planted in front of the TV and I opted for flat out honesty: “I’m discouraged today. I just don’t have it together.”
A lavender Epsom salt bath had me feeling much better until I got out and immediately had to tackle bedtime. Our over-tired boys ran in circles while I failed at corralling them into bed. I finally said, “Fine! Put yourselves to bed!” and stomped back to my room where I fell face first into the pillows next to Ned. In two and a half seconds, both boys were on top of me, yelling, “I found you!” over and over again. I hadn’t even realized I was hiding.
I retreated downstairs, leaving Ned to deal with getting the boys to sleep. I do it 95% of the time, so I didn’t feel too guilty. I was just about to sit down and begin a blog when the pitter patter of little feet alerted me that my three-year-old was on my trail, and without thinking about it, I crouched behind the chair in the corner of the living room where he couldn’t see me.
I thought I was in the clear. Jonah came down and quickly swept the room without seeing me, so he ran back upstairs, announcing loudly, “Papa! I couldn’t find Mama!” But then I heard Ned at the top of the stairs, “OK. We’ll just play downstairs until she shows up.”
So there I was, crouched behind our chair, very obviously hiding from my family, when all three came down the stairs. I weighed my options, but before I could make a choice I giggled nervously and Ned spotted me. He instantly assessed how everything had gone down. He started to laugh and proudly declared, “Mama, I found you!” Which, of course, Jonah and Silas immediately joined in saying.
If there is something that gives me hope during the hard days, it’s my faith that it’s life’s challenges that will ultimately bring you closer to your truest, most authentic self. No matter how desperately I wanted to run away from bed time (Hey, everyday crises, right?) it’s in those moments of reaching your limits and then having to reach just a bit further that we find ourselves just a bit more each day.