“What a waste of a day!”
“This day is shot!”
“I might as well just crawl back in bed.”
Too many times I’ve allowed external forces early in the morning to dictate my mood setting it on a negative course through the entire day. Sometimes it’s the scale – even though I know I should throw that darn thing away I just can’t. “Really? Two pounds up? This day stinks!”
Or sometimes it’s a child who wakes up after 12 hours of sleep still an utter grouch and pain in the you know what. How can a human sleep so long and still wake up with an attitude?! My oldest would start screaming bloody murder the moment his eyelids opened like he was pained to be confined in a crib. Sharing a townhome wall does not allow you the pleasure to let him “exercise his lungs” for a bit while you leisurely make your way upstairs. I would drop everything then take two stairs at a time to get to the angry elf who would start throwing any toys or books in his bed at the big human coming to free him. And for the record getting hit upside the head with Goodnight Moon before breakfast will set anyone in a foul mood.
You don’t have to be a time management guro.
So I want to offer up to you friend if you feel downtrodden like you are doing this mothering thing all wrong to cut off the internal hater. The challenge is to catch the tormenting voice that makes us think our day is a total waste when it’s not even 9 AM! We allow our day to be defined as done because we didn’t settle a meltdown fast enough, breakfast was burned or we lost our cool with a tantruming toddler. Again.
I once heard “the only yelling in a house should be if the house is on fire.” Oh yea? Well if that’s the indicator then my house should have been in ashes many times over. However the guilt I feel afterwards on not being a calm and ever present presence smolders for hours afterwards. Sometimes days. I can kick myself when I’m already down like a pro. The internal lies of “you’re a rotten mother” and “you are so not cut out for this gig” begin a vicious playlist on repeat squashing any joy I had.
We’ve all heard the saying “don’t cry over split milk” which side note is totally justified if you purchase the more expensive locally grown organic milk. Just the thought of having to haul all my kids out in public through a grocery store because of someone being careless makes me tear up. However, I’m willing to take a bet the tears on a momma crying over a spill were never about the stupid milk. We aren’t helpless, waifish, fragile dolls. Moms create human life – a superhero talent I’ve yet to see Marvel gift to one of their characters. A sharp word from a spouse in the morning can set up an all day negative attitude. A kid who just won’t brush his teeth to catch the bus in time again can cause the most patient parent to lose her cool. A mis-communication with an in-law can sit on the front of the brain rendering your happy mood hapless.
So why is it important not to buy into the lie that a day alive and being with our family is a waste?
Because every morning you open two gifts: your eyes.
And also because there has been a boatload of sad news in our nation of late.
Strangers grieving together over loss more than any people should. Beyond the horrifying story of parents who had to endure a wild animal fight them for their child only to lose their sweet son, several heartbreaking local stories have rocked my community. My friends and I just can’t wrap our heads around a Kindergarten sweetie who should be enjoying the summer off but is enduring treatment for aggressive cancer. Dads who might not see their babies grow up with each touch and go scan. And yesterday I found out one of the most fit moms I know starts chemo in a few days. Some days it feels like your heart can’t break any more. It’s just too much.
So as I sit in my thoughts and count my blessings I wonder what else can be done beyond GoFundMe campaigns, prayers and meal trains?
The answer is pretty simple.
It’s being grateful.
Living out gratitude in abundance no matter the circumstances.
You are the only mother your kids want (no matter what they say in the heat of the moment) and you are the perfect woman for this job. Nobody knows your kids like you do and no person here on earth can love them more than their momma. Truth.
So instead of immediately choosing self loathing if your house looks like a Pinterest “Before” board, look through eyes of gratitude. Look at the roof. Look for the food in the fridge. For clothes in the hamper. Again. Look for the beds to make. Those aren’t a ton of chores to be done. That’s abundance.
It’s all perspective my friend.
The day is not over if you made a poor parenting choice. Really, it’s not. Shout it from the rooftops that you get to ask forgiveness of your child. How cool is that? And I’m not kidding. Do you know how powerful it is to explain to your child how mommy isn’t perfect? It then becomes freeing for them that they don’t have to be perfect either. And I promise one day your grateful child will see the gift you gave her when her momma didn’t choose to be fake or put on a show. She will get to be real with her kids. Your grandchildren.
How you choose your attitude now determines the thumbprint you leave on their responses to disappointment.
You can shape the legacy you leave in the small things.
And am I saying we act like Stepford Wives? Absolutely not. Somedays getting to bedtime is tough, situations are messy and the doctor’s office takes forever to call back with an important test result. But spilled milk or evil scales are not allowed to determine the worth of our day. Or our worth either. They most certainly are not allowed to start the internal hater’s recording of our failings and patheticness.
So let’s choose now how we will face adversity, let downs and book wielding toddlers.
With grace for ourselves and gratitude for our messy and imperfect lives.
Like the saying goes, somebody out there would gladly take your worst day for their best.
And for those friends and others we don’t even know who are in the trenches of health or loss may we honor their struggles by not complaining over our lesser burdens.
A day alive is never wasted. It might not be lived to its fullest or to our expectations and hopes, but it is still a day above ground. A day spent with the ones we love – and for that I’m choosing to have gratitude be my attitude.