This past week, I was admittedly really looking forward to Tuesday. I had a full day’s worth of errands to run, chores to do, stuff to check off my list. The weekend was filled with runny noses and cold weather, the stuff winters with little kids always bring. And, also my least favorite shift of my husband’s 10am to 8pm. As midwestern meteorological luck would have it, Tuesday was a snow day, or “snow day” rather as the actual precipitation lasted about 22 minutes. That was long enough to cancel all activities and render us housebound until the weather officially declared itself. This day was not unlike many others of being a mom to young children. You see, it was a day I did nothing important. But, yet also a day I did everything that mattered.
5:45 am the day begins before the sun
Nothing: Please, go back to sleep. Coffee. All the coffee. Sippy cups of milk. Daniel Tiger blurs into Cheerios. Laundry into dishes. Diaper changes into a snack. And another snack. Toys scattered. “Clean up, clean up everybody everywhere.” More toys strewn with endless pieces, social media scrolls, slightly bare pantry from a now delayed grocery run, more screen time, tears, time outs, patience lost by all parties. One successful nap, one failed nap, more lost patience, more screen time, half dirty kitchen, and endless toys. Restart am load of laundry that never made it to the dryer, clean up dinner dishes, and misfit toys. Look around at the clutter and chaos. A checklist left unchecked.
And Everything: A mother’s hug. Something to drink. Something to eat. Clean clothes to wear. Clean dishes to eat from. Clean bodies and more nourishment. Play. Finally mastering counting to ten (without skipping seven), a fun lunch of snacks and giggles, comforting hugs, cuddles, and practice apologizing for all parties. Rest for one, one on one time with the other, more practice with apologies and breathing, a half clean kitchen, a play dough picnic, and “You’re my sweet Mommy”. Remember the sound of giggles, the tug of heart strings from “I love you”s, the weight of pudgy baby hugs, and wet kisses. The immeasurable everything that these babies bring, a heart so overflowing with love and exhaustion simultaneously.
What is the measure of a successful day?
I did not get a single thing done that I intended to do. Not even that load of laundry. Well, I made my bed, but not until 10pm right before I got in it, so I am not sure that counts. I lost my patience more times than I have fingers (and toes). Tears of happiness pricked my eyes as my son hugged his sister and said “I take care of you, Sissy” after she tripped at fell. (Her middle name being Grace is a little bit ironic. haha) How can I be both touched out and want one more snuggle? Be in that place of wanting a clean kitchen desperately, but settling for half done. Be pretty sure my vacuum is going to start seeking other part time employment soon to make ends meet.
This day that I initially saw as an Elsa like ice prison, in fact, afforded me the opportunity to put my phone and attitude on a shelf and make some damn memories. These memories are little pieces of childhood. Getting on the floor and playing, which does not come naturally to me, despite my intense love for baby laughter reset me in a way that a clean home never does. Although, a bleach scented bathroom is pretty heavenly. All that said, it was a day that stretched longer than some of its counterparts. Not all days are the same, despite the Groundhog Day effect of small children.
But, I kept the kids alive.
It sounds trivial, and is often the butt of jokes surrounding parenting. When they are small, the weight of this is actually huge. If the role of primary caregiver is new to you, an identity challenge is likely too. (see here) If you are a parent and you tried your best today, which your best is different every day mind you, that is not nothing. That is in fact, everything.