Yesterday, I was feeling totally overwhelmed.
I'm catapulting toward a deadline on my biggest project to-date. I've been on my own for child care for more than a week. My house looks like the aftermath of a sample sale. I've been battling a nasty spring cold. I'm absolutely exhausted. And my little one picked yesterday as the perfect time not to nap.
By 3:30 PM, I was feeling, well, deranged.
Then I got a call from a vibrant Mama friend, with a killer sense of humor. "H hasn't napped today. The baby's not sleeping. I'm strung out. Want to come over for an early dinner?"
Ah, the sweet salvation of another mother in the throes of the reality of the job. We were in the car in fifteen minutes.
The kids made a glorious mess of sugar cookie cut outs and sprinkles as my friend and I threw dinner together. Then, the little ones ate, battled each other over toys and, eventually, had total meltdowns which I attributed to total exhaustion. (OK, really, it was only my kid who had a total meltdown.) In the midst of her sleep-deprived mania, my little one smacked her playmate square in the face.
Apart from the gratuitous violence, we had a lovely time, this Mama and I. We commiserated, empathized and laughed. We each sipped a small glass of wine with our early dinner, surrounded by the blissful, frenetic energy of our realities. (Please refrain from indictments: I don't think indulging a half glass of wine over dinner with little ones in the room is worthy of condemnation. Then again, I live on the East Coast.)
After the little one and I got home, she rubbing her red-rimmed eyes, we went through our routine of bath and books. Snuggled on my lap, Winnie-the-Pooh open before us, recounting tales of Heffalumps, my baby looked up at me and said "I feel sad."
"Why do you feel sad, sweet girl?" I asked.
"I feel sad because I hit H," she said.
"But you were sorry," I said, trying to encourage her.
"So next time, you can make a different choice. Next time, you can decide not to hit when you get frustrated, because you will remember that hitting made you sad," I said, trying to embrace the "teachable moment."
She said nothing, turning her attention instead to the Silly Old Bear whose head was stuck inside a Honey Pot.
After I put her to bed, I returned to my work and made significant progress. In fact, I started to feel like I might just accomplish the tasks I've laid out for myself. I felt good. I felt like I could breathe.
The teachable moment for me--for all Mamas, maybe--is to know when to throw up our hands and give in to the marvelous madness of our lives. It isn't always easy, and it's rarely neat, but, if we take the time to stand back and embrace it for what it is, we might be able to breathe a little better, and accomplish a lot more.
Oh, and have a little fun along the way.
Be where you are; otherwise you will miss your life. -- Buddha