Sunday, July 27, 2014

Do the Best You Can

Raising kids is overwhelming.  Period.  No matter how much you love them or the process of raising them, there are moments where you just wish you could disappear for a moment and compose yourself.  One of my friends has four children and I told her how much I admired her cool, collected style of parenting.  She replied, "Oh, I'm just faking it.  Aren't you?"  Yes.  Yes I am.  Aren't you?

I find myself saying to my kids as all three of them need something at the same time, "Please be patient.  I'm doing the best I can."  Apparently they have been listening.

My oldest was at my mom's for the morning and my baby girl was sleeping so I thought it was a great time for my two year old to paint.  He always wants to paint but the logistics get a little nuts.  The set-up isn't a big deal but the clean up can be quite a project.  Sometimes we end up in the bathtub after a particularly creative expression on his part.  I love this about preschoolers but it can be tough to nurse a baby and give a bath so I try to plan accordingly.  This was the perfect time.

Just as I tied his little apron strings and laid out his paintbrushes, my baby woke up.  I grabbed her out of her crib and came back into the playroom/preschool art studio as quickly as I could.  In those few moments, he had decided to discard the brushes and go with finger painting instead.  "Mama, look!!" he said.  "I have paint all over my fingers!"  
"Looks great, bud!  Just keep the paint on the paper, okay?" I asked him.
"Okay!" he said as he went back to mixing and swirling his colors on the page.  So far so good. Then the doorbell rang just as my baby started to nurse.  

I interrupted her to get the door and gave her a quick apology.  I turned to my preschooler as I headed for the stairs and said, "Drew, stay here while I get the door.  Your painting looks great!"  I met the exterminator at the door and said, "Hi!" a bit too brightly.  "I have a little one upstairs so come on up!" He looked at me blankly but I just smiled and ran back upstairs.  
"Uh, Ma'am," he said.  "Where are the stairs?"  Guess I forgot that part.

Drew finished his masterpieces as the exterminator worked and I was able to clean him up without a bath.  And then things got nuts.  

As we washed his hands and arms and face, the exterminator said, "Ma'am, you're all set.  I just need a check and a signature."  Then my youngest announced, "I have to go peepee Mama." My baby started to complain about laying on the bathroom rug and then, of course, the doorbell rang again.  It was my mom with my oldest and the door was locked.  I must have looked shell shocked because my two year old put his little arm around me and looked into my eyes as he said, "Mama.  It okay.  Just do the best you can."

And I think that's really all we can expect of ourselves.  We can't do everything at the same time.  We have to triage and decide what is most important at that moment.  We have to stop and make a mental list and work the list until the door is answered, the preschooler has peed and the baby is nursed.  But mostly we just have to do the best we can.  Thanks my little one, I'll give myself a little more grace the next time life throws everything at me at once.  Will you?

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