Zen Cheerios

Standard

I wonder, if someone filmed me throughout my day, would it look like other mothers’ days? I wish I could SHOW you what it’s like.  I know we aren’t totally normal, but are we that different?

This morning, I managed to get everyone to the van with enough time to squeeze them to school mostly on time. I sent them all out to the van, came out, and of course no one was actually in the van.  That would be too simple. They were all wandering around outside.  Before I could say anything about why the eff they weren’t buckled in and ready to roll, Tuna announced that Binker had to poop.  Me: “Then why aren’t you inside pooping??!!”

So he slowwwwly walks to the door, Tuna asks where Binker’s backpack is (because that’s relevant at that moment), and Binker rambles up the steps to the house.  I tell him to “HURRRRYYYY UUUUP!!!” Seriously, how does it take three minutes to walk inside and sit on the toilet?

So the rest of us are waiting in the driveway….waiting….waiting….I check on him a couple of times…………..He is the world’s slowest pooper. He took at least 87 minutes just wiping. And we’re officially late.  We pull out of the driveway at 8:20–exactly when we should be arriving at school. I should start recording the number of times we’ve been late because of poop.

Before all of that, my house wasn’t the vision of three angel children getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, putting on shoes, and going to the van. That’s ALL THEY HAVE TO DO.  Those simple steps.  That’s IT.  I have seven million things to do.  They have FIVE things to do.  Why in God’s great Universe do they not understand, after years of school mornings, this simplicity?! I have charts, timers for when it’s time to get shoes on, timers for when it’s time to go out the door, I even remind them every step of the way while I’m doing my stuff (making lunches, sucking down coffee, putting out fires…). They can’t find the right socks, they are fighting with each other, they are playing with Legos still with bare feet…and this morning Binker was constantly whining about how he didn’t feel well enough to go to school–over and over and over he whined at me while I was trying to think!  Whined at me while I sprayed him with Mucinex and shoved Tylenol down him–You’re going. to. school. damnit! (He was totally fine.)  It’s SO hard to just THINK when three little boys need a million things–things that they don’t even need–right NOW.

The hardest part is keeping my cool.  I have challenged myself to keep it cool for four days in a row.  So far this week (it’s Tuesday) I’ve reset my challenge twice.  So much for that.  How about three?

Then Squishy and I have our day doing this and that (Today. Other days are crazier), going here and there, accomplishing things, playing…and then it’s time for pick-up. Armor on. Enter whiny tired Squishy after the day and the playground, talky talky talky Binker, grumpy hangry Tuna…all talking and whining and fighting with each other over the stupidest shit in the Universe, all at the same time.  It’s great fun. Not headache-inducing at all.  We get home and Squishy has a three hour long meltdown about Angry Birds, Binker gets emotional about his old bed that we sold, and Tuna is about to pass out because he couldn’t sleep last night. I really don’t know how I managed to feed and bathe them (help from Latefordinner).  Falling asleep didn’t take long, thank all of the Gods of this great Universe for that.

So, with three angels slumbering,  I sat down at my computer to do my homework, and realized that this blegh post was in order.  Seriously. Because there has to be another parent out there who deals with the intensity, who deals with the morning rush, who is late because of poop. It’s a major challenge for me–to keep my cool when poop makes us late.  To keep my cool when Binker is on the top bunk with Legos when he should be putting shoes on.  To keep my cool when the cat gets on the table and eats Squishy’s cereal. To keep my cool when Tuna wants to discuss the meaning of life before coffee–every single day.

Your lessons will continue to present themselves until you learn them.  These effed up days are not about my kids learning how to get ready on time (well, they sort of are, but not completely).  These days are about ME learning how to find that center of the cyclone while lateness and distractions and poop are happening around me daily before coffee. I have three days left this week to rise to my own challenge of keeping my cool.  I really hope I don’t have to reset again tomorrow.  This is a tough one, because I think that these smart boys should just get it.

20160913_221704

I have memories of sitting on the heater vent in the winter mornings, my mom throwing my clothes at me, telling me very nicely to get dressed. Man, I don’t remember her yelling at me like I do at my boys. I remember watching the last remaining cheerios in my bowl move toward each other, making shapes out of three or four circles together. I would make a ripple in the milk, and they’d re-form into new shapes–faces, animals, boats…  It was like cloud-watching in a bowl.  I wasn’t thinking about the clock. I had no concept of time or school bells. I was cold first, then having a warmer zen moment with my cheerios. I am constantly disrupting my kids’ zen moments with these stupid deadlines.  I tell them “I didn’t invent the clock.  We all just have to follow it if we want to succeed in this world.”  How does a little dreamer child even come to understand that?  The kids need to learn, yes, and the adults need to REMEMBER. We are all born dreamers, the clock is man-made. Maybe I’ll meet them in the middle–they will learn the clock, and I will re-learn zen cheerios.  I should at least try, and probably harder than they do.

Maybe each household’s morning looks different, but these kids are probably pretty similar. If you struggle with your routine, I hope you can try with me, to not be quite so normal. I hope that some of us can remember that what some consider “different”, is actually closer to where we began–little cloud-watchers outside of time.

Man, I hope I remember that tomorrow morning when I have to get them out the door again.  We can look at clouds on the way.

There is no busy

Standard

 

I haven’t had many bleghy moments lately.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been ridiculously busy–not my favorite way to be, but how do you manage the lives of five people without being ridiculously busy?  I might need a personal assistant when all three are involved in activities.  Good thing they are available for people who can only pay them ten bucks a month.

Ridiculously busy is not my natural state.  I start to forget things, and do things like leave my debit card in my pants, rather than my wallet, and think I’ve lost it and can’t even find the pants I was wearing because I actually put them back in the drawer.  I also back into curbs (in my defense, I was late, the curb was invisible, and I am secretly trying to wreck the Storm Trooper anyway).

But I once read this facebook meme (which I pronounce “may may” because it’s more fun that way) that said  “Stop the glorification of busy.”  I love that, believe it to my core, and yet am still so very busy.  My creativity lovvves to NOT be busy.  The summer was a success, in my opinion, because I did not plan much at all for most of the summer.  We did just about nothing, minus our super-awesome-action-packed-adventure as the summer’s finale.  Our summer was the equivalent of a lame-o fireworks display with a surprise  FANTASTIC finale.  But why is lazy and unscheduled “lame-o”?  It wasn’t.  We slept in, played outside, ate some food, went a few places…and the kids were happy.  Why is slow considered boring?

10446002_693533090682914_4444208645076647825_n

Slow is beautiful.  Simplification is beautiful.  In this life we’re in–which is not in a hut on a tropical island where we wake slowly and go for a dip in the morning, but rather immersed in the American midwest among minivans and Starbucks and travel mugs and yoga pants–slow means only choosing two activities versus all seven Tuna is interested in, and only one for the little ones.  Slow means setting timers on screen time and forcing them to actually play with their toys, or each other.  The definition of busy has been modified.  Slow means eating together as a family at least three times a week, rather than every night.  Just as my standards of cleanliness have changed, so have my standards of busy.  For alone time, I can get now get by on a trip to Target without kids every other week. (Exaggeration there–I totally need my workout classes with the free childcare.)

During the summer, I had my bleghy moments because my mind slowed down enough to see them in my day to day. Like the Matrix, I was able to manipulate time and space to see the bleghs in between. There is no spoon in the summertime.  Now all I see are spoons, and suddenly, and all freaking shiny.  Perhaps the key to stopping that glorification is to see those moments even during the busiest times.  Ideally, we may be jetting from one busy to the next busy, and still see the space in between breaths.  I think that that’s what it means to stop the glorification of busy–see the space between, no matter how fast you’re moving.  Deep breaths, and you may be slow whenever you wish, no matter what’s going on around you.

My favorite from Thich Naht Hahn’s “Peace is Every Step” is:  “breathing in, I relax my body. breathing out, I smile.”   

With this, there is no busy.

Not funny, and a little corny

Standard

“These are the days to remember…”

 

So at the risk of being corny, I am reflecting on that Natalie Merchant song.  I heard it today (I get to listen to my music when it’s just me and Squishy–the baby–in the Storm Trooper, actually the “Bloated Storm Trooper”, aka my FUGLY, old, white minivan which I hate in all ways except for its practicality).

So that song was released in 1992.   I really don’t care to remember that year, but man those were some kind of days.  Dark days, for me… But, remembering them is important, because they show me how to stay out of that dark.   You know that quote, something like “we can’t know the light without the dark”.  So I guess I’ll remember the days (though foggy), especially when I don’t want to, which is usually.

“These days you might feel a shaft of light across your face.”  And I did then, in my dark-before-the-dawn time, in a very profound spiritual way, and I have followed that light ever since (a whole other story).

I heard the song today, and now these are the days.  Natalie was brilliant, writing that song, because it is completely timeless.  We have these days here, and those days over there..always the days.

How are these the days to remember?  I can barely remember yesterday.  These days are ONE continuous day, with very little sleep, occasional moments of clarity, lots of treading water, doing my varying best.  I have a hard time remembering what day of the week it is sometimes.  Maybe some moments will survive, but really it’s the ONE CONTINUOUS DAY quality of these days that I’ll remember.  These days are ONE DAY full of playgrounds, tiny shoes, bruises, toddler fears, food allergies, sleepless nights, rallying self-confidence and forcing smiles on those tiiiirrrred dragging, bag-eyed days.  I hope I remember these days that LateforDinner lets me sleep in, the days family and friends come over and the kids go crazy and we enjoy some real time together, the laughter, the days my boys get along and the flash forward moments I see in their growing relationship as brothers.  I also hope I remember how hard it is, so I can appreciate those distant future years with a quiet house.

All of this ONE CONTINUOUS DAY is actually ONE CONTINUOUS SHAFT OF LIGHT across our faces. The light is not always warm.  Sometimes in the darkest days that light is only a cold glimmer, but it is always there through the fog. Some days that light is so hot and bright it brings undeniable joy.  And so, I remember all of the days as ONE to remember, because these are always the days.

“You know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky,”  Because Boys.