My baby. (Don’t you dare tell me that he’s not a baby!) He began his day with some cartoons on the couch. Then we went for a run in the stroller. We stopped at a coffeeshop to get a treat and some coffee but he threw a huge fit because I wouldn’t let him have a cake pop so we left. We chilled at home for a while and had some fabulous cuddles and tickles before naptime. And I soaked him up. At three he is a crazy-headed little Einstein who loves to dance to what he calls “the baseball song” or Thrift Shop over and over. And over. He’s got serious moves. Always has. At bedtime he says, after more books and more water, “Iwannacuddlewityou” and we sing Jesus Loves me and the Barney song. He gets sad when his brother doesn’t kiss him as we drop off at school. He bosses people around like a boss. He bites when he’s excited– just little gnawing love bites like “I love you so much I want to eat you” or when he’s mad. He tries to cop a feel every chance he gets. I’m seriously working on breaking that habit. (Iron bra, perhaps?) He plays trains for hours. There are train tracks permanently taking up residence in our living room to prove it. I know someday they will be boxed up in the basement. But sometimes, I want my floor back.
This is three. So unspeakably adorable and cuddly and hilarious and cute and ridiculous and full of tantrums and unreasonable requests (every morning upon waking: “can I have a bar?” meaning a Cliff bar and the answer is no, followed by weeping and gnashing of teeth. Today he made a PB&J “by his own self” and I was a little surprised when I walked in the kitchen. He was making a mess, so naturally I grabbed my camera.
It’s funny because an hour previously I was on the phone with someone and we were talking about the Beauty in the Chaos and how when our kids grow older we are going to want to remember those moments of peanut butter smeared across the kitchen and toilet paper strewn down the hall and Legos on the floor. Legos. For. Days. It was a message I needed to hear (and see) today. Because today I felt like a failure. Because my house is dirty and the counters need wiping and the floors need mopping and beds need making and closets need sorting and I can’t make it to the gym three times a week and I didn’t harvest all the tomatoes and half of my farm share goes bad and I forgot that it was picture day on Tuesday for the pre-schooler and the fourth grader and the dog has fleas and I haven’t planned the birthday party yet and my email inbox is about to eat me alive and there’s permission slips that need signing and my brain just won’t shut off with all the “shoulds”. You get the picture. And I know I just hijacked my son’t birthday post, but I’ve just gotta get it out there.
See, I’m the mom who everyone expects to be late. I’m the one who forgets about parent night. I’m the one who writes down the ortho appointment in my calendar with a back-up on the phone and still might not remember until we’re already late. And I’m constantly fielding the messages the world, the enemy and my own traitorous flesh shout at me about my worth only being equal to what I can produce, or how I can keep up. Well. I can’t keep up. I surrender. And I’m telling you because I know that you’re not that different from me. Maybe somewhere deep down you believe you just have to keep all those plates spinning in order to be OK. The thing about being a stay-at-home mom (or a human) is some days you have a really kind, gentle, compassionate boss, and somedays she just piles on the unreasonable to-do list and cracks the whip and is downright mean. I was pretty mean today. And I just gave in to the lies. But then I stopped. And picked up my camera. And I could see better. Later, I basked in the gorgeous fall light at one son’s baseball game before the other one had to go to soccer and later I’m meeting a friend for hot yoga. And it’s OK. I’m Ok. And I asked God to help me see. This is the question I can barely type: “Father, who do YOU say that I am?” I told a friend I was feeling like a failure and she said (glorious freedom!) “You are a failure. AND a precious prize belonging to God. What are you believing you need to win at?”
I’ve been mulling this over for a while, the whole “how ARE you?” question. I never know how to answer. Tired. Blessed. Beautiful. Ragged. Sanctified. Sinner. Overwhelmed. Underappreciated. Overflowing with gratitude. Overflowing with complaint. Content. Anxious. Bored. Excited. Joyful. Saddened. All. At. Once. Yes, indeed, I am conflicted.
My friend and kindred spirit, Misty is spending this month blogging and starting a conversation and I think this might just be my first post in my own series. I can so relate to her fighting perfectionism. It will be real and raw and messy. And I know that something so personal is a bit…unexpected in this little corner of the interwebs, but I think it might be just what I need to unravel some of these feelings. And you? What about you? Will you please join in the conversation with me? I don’t know where it will lead, or if it will be an easy path, but I think it will be rewarding. There may only be one other person out there who will read these posts the next 31 days. That’s Ok. I’m viewing it as a month-long writing exercise. I would love your feedback if something hits you, convicts you, makes you cringe or smile or, especially, if it begins to smack of self-indulgent drivel.
Deep breath. Here we go.
One more thing. In case you are keeping track, and I worry that maybe some of you are, yes, we did just have another birthday in the house. No, I did not write a birthday blog for that child. yes, I do think someday he may suspect I didn’t love him as much. No, that’s not true. I did in fact take pictures on his birthday, but lost them in a freak hard drive accident, so there. I hope he can forgive me.