Wake up to the sound of the 3-year-old. She’s already awake and demanding every ounce of attention. Mentally attempt to work out your to-do list before coffee enters the bloodstream. Realize the futility. Bathe. Clothes. Realize shoelaces on work shoes are broken. Curse yourself for adding to the morning schedule. Replace shoelaces.
Realize shirt is wrinkled. Curse yourself for adding to the morning schedule again. Iron shirt. Examine child’s progress with her breakfast. Encourage more diligence in the eating of said breakfast. 3-year-old is now crying and screaming at volumes generally reserved for dog whistles.
Oh, sweet coffee. Quietly thank God for wife who makes coffee. Must add milk. Drop the new gallon of milk you bought last night. Punctured on flat floor. How does that even…? Curse at improbable physics. Milk spills. Cry over it. Panic, looking all over the house for the still-unpacked box that might contain something to store the milk in. Limited success. Curse silently.
Return to coffee. Immediate interruption of coffee. Take child up to make her bed. She expresses instead a desire to play with toys. You decline her request due to time constraints and limited patience. Wailing and hurling herself to the floor. Eardrums explode from the screaming noise. Look at watch. Curse passage of time. Angrily stride toward child’s bed to make it yourself. Punt wooden frame of box-spring with right big toe. Very hard. Curse silently. Curse again silently. String of silent curses. Run away from screaming child. Must examine the injury.
Take off shoe and sock. Don’t have time for this. Blood. Fantastic. Administer tissue paper. More blood. Administer bandages. Blood oozing out. Wrap in paper towel, replace sock, replace shoe. Hug 3-year old.
All is right with the world again for her. Curse your lack of childhood ability to ‘get over it‘ so quickly. Drive to daycare and then work. Limp the rest of the day. Write blog post about it like the internet-addict you are.
5 Ways to Not Break Your Toe:
- Life is a mess. Remembering that these are just ‘first world problems‘ and how children are starving and dying on the other side of the planet seldom influences our ability to deal with our own mess any better. Like when your parents would remind you of starving kids in Africa when you refused to eat green beans. Such motivation works to a point. Being reminded of how good we’ve got it when others are suffering is valid, and necessary. But a better way is when we simply recognize our own existence is screwed up and accept that this life isn’t meant to be perfect. It simply isn’t. All your attempts to make things run smooth as silk will still be met with flaws. Plan things out – sure. Hustle – absolutely. Work at making life as good as you can – without a doubt. But when the failures and sidetracks and wailing and gnashing of teeth happen, don’t flip out because you’re not ‘perfect’. You’re a gorgeous mess. Embrace it, and work through it. And then you’ll have the wherewithal to maybe reach out beyond your own imperfect circumstances and sponsor a child or something helpful to others. Your own mess will be in your peripheral vision, rather than hijacking your entire vision.
- Life is interrupted. I think it was Jeff Goins or Paul Steinbrueck (not sure) that I read recently say – “Fatherhood: An endless series of beautiful interruptions.” Now, my own kid is a scant few weeks away from ruining my life in the nicest way possible, but for now we’re acting provider/teachers of a young lady. So yes, as much as I might struggle with the notion, we are getting in some good practice. But as for the quote – I both love and hate it. Hate is not too strong a word for it, and neither is love. On the one hand, we like our time. We like being able to watch 1 movie in more than 15-minute increments over the course of a day or two. We like focusing on one thing to completion. But the pregnant wife will need to pause the movie repeatedly because the kid is using her bladder as a trampoline. The 3-year old will use you as a jungle gym when you’re trying to make something on the computer. Your life will be interrupted. Your routine will burn. Your ‘quality time’ with your spouse will come to a screeching halt at the approach of little stomping noises freshly woken from nap-time. We will struggle the rest of our lives attempting to find the ‘beautiful‘ part of our interruptions. I think we’ll be better off letting go of the old sooner, rather than later. Get over the interruptions, and get better at maintaining multiple threads of life simultaneously. Less toxic to the soul.
- Life is broken. We know the values we possess. We know what right and wrong are. We have plans and procedure to instill the Truth into the little lives we’re responsible for. We can tell them just how yummy and good for them salad actually is, but they won’t always listen. The favorite, delicious vegetable of last week is the despised, “Sweet Lord, child why won’t you just eat it, and stop telling me you don’t like carrots you ate a bushel of them just yesterday and no you can’t go play these will make you grow big and strong and stop putting that on the floor just for Heaven’s sake sit down and eat it” of today. They won’t want pray for their mommy and daddy every night. They won’t care about personal safety. They won’t remember how they just missed that jump you told them not to attempt from the couch to the table. And then the screaming… Repetition is aggravating. It seems hopeless. Do it anyway. You won’t always be consistent, but choose to try anyway. Ignore your failures at teaching them, because they have already ignored your successes.
- Life is dirty. You’re going to make everything just ‘so’ in the baby’s room. You’ll eventually get some new couches or a table you love that just makes the room. Your car’s interior will be detailed and spot-free. And then there will be poop. And vomit. And milk that magically fell out of the sippy-cup and no one apparently knows how that happened when you ask. Shoes will not be wiped enough. Forks will be used as weapons against the furniture. Your car will appear post-apocalyptic inside and out. The leftover feces will smear across her new outfit in the 4.8 seconds you were cleaning something else. Keep cleaning. Develop a new habit for it without despising it’s constancy. Make it a game to share. Whistle while you work. And keep the cussing internal. There will be more poop later. There always is.
- Life is livable. You are not consumed. You are a partner to the cause of the kids. Their future is yours to fill. They will inherit angst or fun from you. Bazillions of parents have survived and spawned families of integrity and warmth. Lives have been enriched beyond normal capacity. Beyond possessions. Beyond survival. If the Almighty has seen fit to give family such an emphasis in human existence, then it stands to reason that there is more to be enjoyed than the modern “Me” culture would have us believe. Shared experiences must go beyond trading quips and links on Bookface or Tweeterer. Life at its core is a cooperative experience. Seek out help. The wife and I have felt pretty isolated this year. In spite of the help we’ve received (and it’s been a lot, thank you), it can be very easy to get discouraged and feel alone in your fights. Don’t stay there. Find people who challenge you, reach out to assist, and go down this new road with their arms holding yours up. These people exist, I promise.