Embracing the Challenge

Today, I am grateful to my son for providing me with a challenge to my mindfulness practice. This gratefulness comes upon reflection, as I did not have the presence of mind (nor the superpower) to be grateful in the moment. The moment kind of sucked. And lasted all day.

The superstitious part of me wonders if I brought this upon myself by having the audacity to plan my day. From 9-12, the babysitter would watch the kids while I worked out and bought the cat his special food to keep him from peeing on everything. At 12, we’d eat lunch, then I’d put the baby down for a nap, my daughter and I would practice flute and reading, then I’d start dinner so it was done in time for us to eat before soccer practice. During soccer practice, I would blog.

Instead, my son wouldn’t let me out of his sight while the babysitter was here. I don’t know if he’s teething or getting a cold or just having some delayed-onset separation anxiety, but I chose to stay at home rather than leave him crying frantically. So from 9-12, the babysitter and I tag-teamed the kids. I kept the baby from falling down the stairs while the babysitter and my daughter played hide-the-basketball-in-the-yard. Then the babysitter kept the baby from grabbing the flutes while I helped my daughter practice. And in the middle of this, I noticed that something smelled like smoke and discovered that I had not put enough water in the pan when I set the beets steaming. I also did a load of laundry. I am grateful the smoke wasn’t coming from the laundry. Those who know me may remember that I had a fire in the washing machine once.

Lunch went off without a hitch.

The baby refused to fall asleep after lunch, so the kids and I went together to the vet’s office and then stopped for gelato because, frankly, it’s been that kind of day. I drove all around trying to get the baby to fall asleep on the way home, but he wouldn’t relinquish his kung-fu grip on consciousness. So, we stopped at a new park and spent 30 minutes wearing out the one-year-old and gathering sand to strew about the house.

On the way home from the park, the baby fell asleep.

During the 40 minutes he slept, my daughter and I opened a package that came in the mail that contained gifts for her, her brother, and for me. She and I opened ours, and then she spent the remaining 35 minutes trying to convince me that she should open the baby’s presents, too. After the baby woke up and watched his sister open his presents, I spent the next hour making dinner and explaining that the gifts were brother’s and that, while she could play with them, she could not push him down when he tried to play with them.

While my daughter was helping me mix up the corn muffins to go with our soup, I gave my son a wooden spoon and a bowl with a small amount of flour in it to keep him from trying to climb the stool behind his sister and help at the counter, too. I trust I don’t need to describe what my kitchen floor looks like that this point, but at least my son sustained no head injuries during the mixing of the corn muffin batter.

As I was putting the muffins in the oven, my husband got home. He took the kids into the other room and shut the door so I could do the dishes and clear the table for dinner.

This was the point at which the gratefulness began to set in.

And now they’re at soccer practice and I’m blogging.

Things I did well today:

  • I expressed my needs and obtained the assistance necessary to meet these needs.
  • When plans changed, I took a breath and let them change.
  • I let go of my desire for a clean(ish) kitchen in favor of the happiness (and safety) of my family.
  • I invited my children to join me in tasks when they wanted to help.
  • I Assumed Positive Intent and was, for the most part my Best Self.

Things I would like to work on:

  • I would like to get better at recognizing that “why me?” voice inside quicker and pausing to breathe and put things into perspective before the negative feelings snowball.
  • I snapped at my husband when he let the baby in the kitchen while I was doing dishes because he opened the door to ask me about something unrelated to my attempts to remain sane. I would rather calmly express my need to focus on one task (or I guess it was three tasks) at a time and thank him for keeping the children occupied while I got everything ready for dinner.

A month ago, a day like this would have involved a lot of yelling, a lot of crying, and a big old pity party for myself at the end of the day. While I wouldn’t describe the day as “fun,” there were moments of happiness in the midst of all of the chaos: watching my son dance and clap while my daughter played her flute, watching both children’s expressions as they tried different flavors of gelato and sorbetto, playing outside on a lovely not-too-hot day. The fact that I’m able to recognize anything but the difficulties is proof that I’ve changed, at least a little.

And now I’m looking forward to going to the gym to listen to This American Life while running on the treadmill. (Well, actually, I’m looking forward to listening to This American Life, and I’m looking forward to how I’ll feel after running on the treadmill. The actual running part I’m pretty neutral about.)

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