One of my biggest flaws as a parent is giving my family the leftovers. Not leftovers from past meals - those leftovers are gems - but the leftovers of myself. The bits of me that are left over after a stressful day. The dribs and drabs of mom that didn't get taken by colleagues or customers or even the bank teller.
As I progress through my day I often find my joy dwindling. It is almost like I only have a certain amount to give and then I become weary. Of course I want to be kind and courteous to those I work with and work for. They don't need to see the weary Jen I tuck away. And, most assuredly, I want to lift up my friends who are struggling and share in the joy of their victories. I am kind to the bank tellers and grocery clerks. I am friendly with the people I pass on my run or at the gym. I wave to moms on the way to school. I chat with teachers and girlfriends. I respond to emails in exclamation points and happy faces. I smile, I laugh, I delight, I grow weary.
I sing and dance in the kitchen while I make dinner and I go through the motions to clean up the dishes. I ask my children to get their showers. They resist. I say, "Please." They ask, "Why? Can't we just have five more minutes?" And, then I am done. I start my count, "One! I'm at two!" I never get to three and I am ever so thankful. I have no idea what happens at three? Do they lose electronic for a day? Do they have to clean the bathrooms? I really need to develop a plan for "three!"
I thought it was just that my kids knew how to push my buttons - and they do! But, mostly I see that I am frustrated because I am spent. I have given so much of myself away during the day that I have very little good bits left to offer the people that mean the most to me as the day closes. My patience is thin for sibling wars and procrastination. My kids are being kids but I sometimes forget what it is like to be 7 and 9 years old.
Kids doddle because they see the joy. They know it is fun to sing in the mirror even if Mom has asked them to shower four times. They know it is crazy delightful to jump on the bed even if they are supposed to be getting their pajamas on. They love to irritate siblings even if they have been told to brush their teeth. Kids are kids. Attention spans are short. Shining objects are distracting. And, mud truly beckons their attention.
I catch myself every time my fuse is short. And I get angry at myself. Why was I so nice to the lady at the pizza parlor and am so frustrated with my children? Why do I spare so little joy for these little people that are my biggest gifts?
I try hard to pick my battles. I don't want to wig out over mud tracked into the house - but I also wonder why these beautiful little beings can't wipe their feet? I will count to 10 before I asked them - again - to pick up their shoes and sweaty socks from the living room. I will smile and say, "I love you! Now, I really need you to hop in the shower."
My goal is to open a reserve in my heart for extra joy. I need to store it away during the day so I can release it to my family as the day closes. I need to say, "Yes. You can have five more minutes." And, I need to embrace their childhood. I need to cherish the chaos instead of weeping over my stumbles as an overwrought parent. I need to realize that in the scope of world, mud on my floors is minuscule. I will save good portions of Mom for my kids each day. I won't promise to be perfect because I know I can't walk on water. But, I will try my hardest to save the top-of-the-line Mom qualities for my kids each day. And, my poor husband! I need to remember that I am not just a mom but a wife as well.