Five weeks into school, and I am beginning to feel comfortable in our new rhythm. Maeve has moved (or been moved) to one nap a day. Our afternoons have some rubbery structure -- homework is mostly done before dinner (leaps and bounds above my rushing Silas through homework sheets at the breakfast table!!); sometimes we do science on Thursdays; Tuesday's and Wednesday's I have an hour with each kid while the other is at a class. There are still things to figure out -- like how and when and what to make for dinner... My sense of overwhelm at being responsible for my kids' spelling and fluency in addition and subtraction tables that left me ranting after Back to School night has even softened.
I've learned an important thing about myself recently. I love latching on to a new routine and resolution: we will drink smoothies every morning from now on! Every Tuesday we will go to the library and research a nonfiction topic! Every week the kids will have these chores and put stars in the grid on the fridge!
But the fact of the matter is, as soon as I staple us into a strict routine like that, I buck it. The IDEA of living these resolves makes me feel safe -- or, really, makes me, for the fleeting moment of drawing a magic marker grid and buying star stickers, feel in control.
One step into it, though, it's instantly clear that I'm not in control and may even be missing needs by pushing a rigid agenda. But it does work well when I have, not family rules, but a thoughtful bank of ideas to draw from -- -- we could go to the library and research a nonfiction topic (we haven't ever done that); we could make green smoothies for breakfast; we could have a list of brainstormed chores on the fridge we all have to get done.
Yesterday a friend was talking about the constant busyness she feels taking care of three kids. She said even though they're all in school now, the demands are constant: the dog needs long walks, she wants to help in kids' classrooms (now three), someone needs new pants for a performance, the grocery list demands trips to three stores, someone needs a non allergenic mattress cover to stop coughing all night long, the soccer ball has no air in it and practice is today, bills are due online -- where is my time -- how can I do this better?? I could just stop trying to do it right...
I was struck. Yes, how much pressure do we carry around trying "to do it right," to do it ALL right. And how much time do we spend trying to present our "right" lives to the world -- instagram, blogs, facebook, twitter...
I lock into resolutions -- rules, really -- for the relief that, YES, this will make me do it RIGHT. In my house, kids shower every night!
But then the kids don't shower (again), and I realize for the zillionth time that no matter how much structure I try to give us, it's not going to make me do it "right."
Sometimes the floor is just filthy.
Sometimes we have no fruit or vegetables in the house at all.
Sometimes I curse when I can't find the hairbrush, and I have to do Eden's hair in the morning.
Lots of times I yell when people can only find one shoe and the bus is coming in 3 minutes.
Yesterday I yelled so loudly about a sweatshirt and Eden cried so hard that I couldn't put her on the bus and had to say sorry while I drove her to school.
But the good news is that I am showing up and doing it. As I let that impulsive resolution-junky quiet, there is freedom. Pinterest-perfect "right" is not really the goal (though so lovely and aesthetically pleasing). The goal is putting down my phone, looking at their eyes, smiling instead of sighing with exasperation, saying sorry, slowly learning. It's good news when all I can think about is falling onto my bed and staying there for days and instead I'm answering questions about rainbow loom bracelets, about how to spell "said," about what's for dinner even when I haven't the faintest idea. It's good news when instead of ignoring him and moving on, I attack Silas crawling across the floor under a blanket wanting to be laughed at, or dig through Eden's closet to help her lay out an outfit even though she's violently rejected my last four suggestions. Today, I am standing on the good news.