Monday, May 20, 2019

What are We Creating in the World?

The other day started out like any other: Crazy-haired kiddos wandering into my room as the sun rose, sips of coffee in between flipping eggs and finding shoes and packing lunches, high hopes of what the day would bring, or rather, of what I would bring to it. 

I am creating joy today. 

I am creating laughter and presence. 

I am creating connection and belonging. 

I say these intentions to myself a couple times through, and then carry on with the hustle and bustle of a new day, three kids and piles of laundry. We make our way into the schoolroom and play with maps for a while…where is Germany? How about Japan? Ooo, who can find Egypt?! It is light and fun and I think to myself, “This is how learning should be! I’ve got this!”. I am nailing being a mom right now.

We move on from maps to writing, a historically challenging subject in our home. The kids get out their notebooks and review where we left off last, while I take a minute to check in with texts and emails. Later I realize, I should have stayed present and used those precious minutes to prepare myself for this transition. I could have recited my intentions a few more times instead of busying my mind with more to do's, but hindsight is always 20/20.

I multi-task instead, and within minutes our dreamy morning is slipping through my fingers. The harder I squeeze, the worse it gets. The kids resist every instruction, forget weeks of learning and spend more time fidgeting with anything and everything within reach than they do writing in their notebooks. I am now Sergeant Commander, stern and firm and short-tempered and easily-annoyed by the need to repeat the same instruction for the four hundredth time. Will you just listen the first time?!?! My kids are befuddled, agitated, shutting down. I do not course correct. The current of the assignment has carried me along with it, and we continue to flow in our frustration until finally we reach the end. I think to myself, "I am a terrible mom and such an impatient teacher."

We make it through our lesson, not unscathed, and then look out to the bluest sky we’d seen in days. The sun is shining and the breeze is rolling through our front tree, and I can almost hear the ripple of water lapping at the shore on the lake near our house. When the water calls, I go. 

I am creating joy today. 

am creating laughter and presence. 

am creating connection and belonging. 

So we load up kayaks, gather lifejackets and oars and sunscreen - clearly we all need a break from the soured suffocation that is now our school room. We paddle and play and I am so grateful for this opportunity to reset. I am so grateful to be exploring the shoreline on a gorgeous day in May, free, healthy, happy. I smile inside. I am not just creating joy and presence today. I am living it. I AM joy. 

The youngest fades first and is ready to paddle back to our car, just as the oldest and I are warming up. We slowly make our way back, fighting the slightest current and enjoying the light wind on our face. I tell the kids to play on shore while I dry-off the kayaks and load everything back up. I tell them to go play. I’ve got it, kids! I get one kayak propped on our van and wiped down. The second is less cooperative, and now I realize how wet my pants are and that the light breeze is starting to feel like a freezing gale. My arms are exhausted. My back aches from the workout I did the day before. I overhear a sibling squabble about who had that rock first, and I remember the pile of laundry I left in the laundry room, still dirty. 

And just like that…you know where I’m going. I am angry and everything is my kids’ fault and why don’t they ever help and I should have just stayed home and done the laundry and I’m not going to take them on special outings if this is how they repay me and I hate myself for getting so angry so fast. I sling blame on my kids and insults on myself. I can’t even remember what my intentions for the day are right now. I just want control, a clean house and dry pants. {Sigh}. 

The truth is, on any given day, I do this dance over and over again…two-stepping toward joy, waltzing my way to worry. Stumbling and falling on my face with perfectionism gripped in one hand and self-hatred firmly fisted in the other. I fall SO many times a day - there are endless opportunities to just stay on the ground, where at least I feel in control of what comes next. I am almost comfortable down there, beating myself up for another failed attempt. Almost.

But here is the key: I always find my way back to joy, to laughter, to presence, to connection.

Yes I fall. Over and over and over again. I’m so stinkin’ imperfect it hurts! I get tired and angry and annoyed just like you. But I refuse to stay there. I refuse to let each failure define me. No matter how long it takes and how hard I have to fight to get back up, I return to my intentions. I return to creating the life I want and the life my family deserves. Because in the end, I know that I alone am responsible for what I create in the world. My kids aren’t responsible. My circumstances aren’t responsible. The busy days and the endless lists and the million-things-gone-wrong aren’t responsible. I am. 

am creating joy today. 

am creating laughter and presence. 

am creating connection and belonging. 

The truth is, we get to create what we want in the world....for ourselves, our families and our communities. We are that powerful. That resilient. That creative and free. The only question is: what do you want to create today?

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