One morning last week (read: smack dab in the middle of the kid's winter break! A break in which we were all forced to stay indoors due to dangerously cold temperatures, making everyone a wee bit stir crazy!) I hired a babysitter for three hours, packed up my stuff, and planned to drive to the nearest Starbucks to carve out some time to read and write.
It was a good idea. In theory.
I tend to be a nicer person if I can quietly sit for a short period of time in a given week and write down a few thoughts or read a book on writing. It's one of the things that fills me up, reminds me that I still have a brain, and helps to recenter me as a mom.
You should know that "in theory" I was going to have the kids completely fed and cleaned up for the babysitter. I would be dressed and ready to go when she walked in the door at 9:30 (thus making the most of the time I had). Their lunches would be made to make things easier on her. She's a younger sitter and I know that managing all three of the girls can be a handful at times, it is for me and I'm almost 37!
What actually happened is this...
I did pack lunches for the girls. We packed them in their school lunch boxes, which was kind of fun, because they were not being used for the week-- bread and butter, turkey and cheese slices, juice boxes, pre-made rice krispie treats, goldfish crackers and fruit, all tucked away and ready to go.
I also managed to pack my own bags and have them ready by the back door (for a quick exit, of course!).
And just about the time that I sent the girls upstairs to get dressed (after finishing their breakfast), and I was going to run up and get dressed myself (so as not to scare the sitter with my completely crazy hair and not so chic, shabby "pajamas"), Aubrey decided that her sister's leftover yogurt parfait, which was sitting on the counter, looked very, very good.
A yogurt parfait that Scott had artistically crafted with perfectly structured granola and fruit layers in a see through drinking glass earlier that morning.
A glass glass.
In a very short period of time, as I turned my back on her in the kitchen to put something away in the fridge, Aubrey crawled up the barstool to the counter and started to eat that leftover parfait.
At first I thought, Ok. She likes the yogurt, it's keeping her quiet, I'll finish up what I'm doing.
She's crawled up the barstools before so that wasn't alarming in the least. Though, I will confess, I feel like a bit of an idiot for not considering the glass from which she was eating.
Wouldn't you know, in a split second, she pushed the entire thing off the counter and onto the floor, where it shattered into a gooey pink mess of glass, fruit and yogurt.
"Aubrey!!!" I screamed (a very normal occurrence in our house, which is probably why she hardly flinched), as I scooped her off the stool before she could get down and step in the dangerous mess.
After locking her behind the child gate on our stairs, where she continued to stare at me dumbfounded by my reaction, I stood in the kitchen all crazy haired with a wild look on my face wondering where I could find a clean up committee to make the mess disappear while I hid myself in a closet until the babysitter showed up.
Oh right, I am the clean up committee...
Coming to terms with the fact that hiding was not an option when there was a pile of glass and yogurt on my floor, I grabbed a roll of paper towels and a plastic bag and got to work trying to find all of the small bits and pieces of shattered glass that flung themselves across the kitchen floor, all the while thinking something along these lines...
It's no wonder I feel like I've lost my mind...grunt.grunt.grunt...I have lost my mind...grr.grr.grr...It's no wonder I finally get to a coffee shop with high hopes of writing a beautiful poem or fabulously crafted essay and find myself staring at the wall and up at the ceiling admiring the light fixtures and wondering what my name is.
It's Linda, right?
Oh, sorry, I mean, Loise.
Eventually, the yogurt mess was cleaned up, I got dressed and turned the t.v. on for the sitter (our television situation is a complex network of boxes and buttons that requires a training course for its users!) so the girls could watch a show. I also put a pile of crafts, coloring books, and games on the table to assure the kids and the sitter had no shortage of things to do (knowing how nutty things can get with Aubrey).
I finally walked out the door feeling like all was taken care of, and took a deep breath as I looked forward to the quiet time I would have for the next couple of hours.
Ten minutes later, as I pulled into the Starbucks parking lot I got a phone call from the sitter's phone.
Uh-oh, I thought, she doesn't usually call.
It was Ella. Sobbing.
My first thought was that someone was hurt. Very, seriously, hurt. And needed to go to the ER.
"Au-b-rey...sniffle, sniffle...br-o-k-e my ma-g-net. She s-ma-sh-e-d it...snort, snort...on the fridge...and...sniff, sniff...now I don't have ANYTHING to PAINT!" Ella managed to get out in sniffled sobs with a crescendoed wail of frustration at the end.
Good grief, I thought, picturing the small plaster magnets I had left behind for the big girls to paint.
I finally talked Ella down off of the precipice of a full fledged meltdown. I assured her I had another magnet that I could give her later and apologized for Aubrey's poor behavior, reminding Ella that she is, after all, not even 2.
After a ten minute phone call she resolved to accept my offer to receive another magnet later (which she, of course, completely forgot about!) and decided to go paint on paper instead.
Almost 40 minutes later than originally expected I finally sat down at a table in Starbucks and stared blankly out the window with a warm cappuccino in hand...wondering what my name was (;
I listened to a podcast on home management. Somehow it seemed like the most appropriate thing to do at the moment.
I then attempted to write two blog posts, both of which were inevitably deleted. One on the dreary weather and another on how I was done blogging for a while because...
But the weather is the weather and every time I think I'm going to stop blogging for a while I realize that it's part self-therapy and so I must go on. It has also served as a "memory book" of sorts for this crazy parenting journey that can leave you so breathless sometimes that it is hard to remember what you did in a given day, week, or month. I'm not a big scrapbooker, but we do take oodles of photos (that I will organize someday!) and I write-- in journals, on scraps of paper and in this little blog space.
Some days I wish my writing efforts and this space were something more...more consistent, more impactful, reaching more of an audience, but I'm practicing being content this year, and being content often means being ok with less. Or, simply, with what you have right in front of you.
What I have in front of me is an incredibly loving and supportive husband, three healthy and super busy children, one house that has loads of quirks, but is ours and keeps us warm, lots of chaos and mess during the day that I am learning to become more and more at peace with (it's that whole sanctification thing that God is working out in my life), and really lots of other blessings that are far too numerous to count.
I have this blog. And this little bit of time. And these words. And sometimes a really yummy cappuccino in my hand that I didn't have to make (:
I'm often reminded of the Lord's prayer, the part that says, "Give us this day our daily bread."
God does provide rest, resources, and extra amounts of resiliency to tired mommas-- it often comes in small, daily bread kind of moments-- two hours at Starbucks, an encouraging text from a friend, a husband who comes home on his lunch break and helps clean up the kitchen because you are at your wits end.
Sometimes I can tend to overlook those things, the bits of bread in the middle of the chaos, but today, as I continue to practice contentment, I am thankful for them all. Those little moments are sometimes all you need to persevere, to keep running, to keep on keeping on.
The little moments, that help you to take a big breath, plant your feet and manage the next round of crazy, sacred, chaos.