Each morning I wake up and I tell myself…this is the day that you are going to have patience…when all of your words will be soft-spoken and loving…when you will sing and dance around the house, smile all day long and just be outwardly expressing the joy and peace that you feel on the inside. I remind myself of all of my many blessings and I begin my day. But, I am not a morning person, and it takes me a little bit of time each morning to actually wake up. The precious 40 minutes or so I have with the kids before they leave for school, are spent in a daze. It is as if I am on autopilot. I make 5 breakfasts, I whip together lunches for the kids and I repeatedly remind the kids to get shoes on, finish their breakfast, get coats on. Some mornings there are little arguments that I attempt to diffuse, while still half asleep. And since my eyes are only about halfway open and I am not fully functioning…I am pretty sure that I walk around with a scowl on my face. I am most sure of this because it is my daughter that usually asks me why I am angry. “I am not angry,” I tell her. “I am just not awake yet.” I quickly remind myself to smile. Then the kids and I hurry out the door…we drive to school, say quick goodbyes and I continue my day.
My time during the day flies by. I usually have a lot of work to complete in a short amount of time for my clients. I then usually try to tidy up the house, do some laundry, empty and load the dishwasher and maybe run a quick errand before it’s time to pick up the kids from school. And usually every minute of my day…I am reminding myself to be joyful, to be peaceful, to be gentle, to smile.
Is it strange that I have to remind myself to smile, even when I know that I am happy? Why is that darn smile not on my face? Oh does it bug me. Lately, I feel like I am so serious all of the time, in a constant state of listing off my never-ending to-do list in my head, so focused on all that needs to be accomplished and for some reason, I have forgotten to smile. I know this because my kids and my husband constantly ask me if I am okay…or ask me what is wrong. Usually I am fine, really, truly….so I tell them that, but then I feel guilty that I look angry when I am not angry. I vow to work on that and I again remind myself to smile.
Before I know it, it is time to get the kids from school. As I sit in the carpool lane I remind myself to be patient, gentle, FUN, soft-spoken. I again remind myself to smile. I watch the kids, as they are in the little field in front of the school with the other kids waiting to be picked up. I watch as they run around, act silly, have fun. I focus in on them and smile (finally). They seem so happy and that warms my heart. All is peaceful.
I finally get to the front of the line, open the van doors and 4 excited kiddos jump into the van…and then crazy happens. All of them are shouting at me at once, they all have something they want, they need, they desire for me to hear at the exact moment. One was the star student, one wants to have a play date as soon as we get home, one got hurt on the playground today, one learned about weather in school, one got to pick out of the treasure box, one is sad because she did poorly on a test, one has a project that is due next week, one REALLY wants to have a play date with their friend right when we get home. I try to lovingly talk over all of the shouting. “I can’t listen to anyone’s story until you are all sitting and buckled, cars are behind me waiting for their kids and I need to drive.” I am ignored. They all continue shouting their stories, sometimes there is whining mixed in or bickering as they are all competing to talk over the other. Again I remind them to buckle their seat belts, which they finally do.
Once buckled, I then encourage them to talk one at a time, they try to, but then one interrupts the other, or adds their own wisdom to the story. I have to tell the child who really wants a play date after school that I have to talk to the other child’s parent first and that it will most likely not happen today. Before I know it, all of the kids are bickering, somebody is crying, there is whining…and the 3 minute car ride home from the school has left me exhausted. And peace escapes me. And the rest of the evening pretty much continues the same way.
I am ignored or disrespected as I try to herd my little sheep into the house and to the table to do homework. Sometimes there is defiance, sometimes there is fighting between kids. I have to tell one of the kids, “no.” which leads to crying. Another child begins to have a meltdown.
This continues on during free time and while I prepare dinner. Dinnertime is difficult too. Kids are whining because they don’t like what I am cooking, kids won’t sit at the table and eat as they should. Again there is bickering. Kids are staring at other kids, which causes an argument. One kid says something mean to another. One won’t sit still or stop playing with his food. There is usually arguing, whining, disrespect. It is usually at this point that I shut down. I am overloaded and done.
The rest of the evening is usually a blur……I just know it usually involves more whining, disrespect, arguing. Some nights there is a lot of smiling and laughter…I wish it was more often.
Getting the kids situated to pray before bed is another difficult feat.There is arguing over who sits where, who prays first. Someone is staring at someone else. Someone is touching someone else. By the time it is ready for the kids to pile into bed, I am flat out exhausted!
I end the night usually feeling defeated…and that defeat turns into guilt. If only I had been more patient and loving. If only I had smiled more. If only I had been singing and dancing around the kitchen and making the home environment fun. I dwell on all that I felt I did wrong that afternoon and evening before drifting off to sleep…and then morning comes.
I wake up and I tell myself….this is the day that you are going to have patience…when all of your words will be soft-spoken and loving…when you will sing and dance around the house, smile all day long and just be outwardly expressing the joy and peace you do feel on the inside. I remind myself of all of my many blessings, I remind myself to smile……and I begin my day.