adjusting the volume

The days are long and my voice is loud.
Their voices are loud.  So LOUD.
There's a lot of noise in my head.
I am constantly counting up what's been done and what needs doing.  My mind is engrossed in a never-ending inventory of shoulds and should-haves, except when my mouth is busy asking the boys, for the third time, to sing just a little bit softer.
I find myself suffering from the kind of stress that wants me to believe everything has to happen right now, the right way.  I find myself raising my own voice to ask them to lower theirs.  And then I find myself falling prey to the idea that I can't do it all.

There are actual moments when I think that if I could just get them dressed in clean clothes and fed a decent meal, just get the dishes put away and the floors swept, just get the homework finished and the blog posted, just get the groceries shelved and the sheets changed, just get it all done, sweep the patio and plant the mums and respond to the message and stay upbeat about it all that everything would be right with the world.
And that is crazy.  Sometimes I just need to say that.  To myself.  Crazy.
It's easy to default to the detail mode of mothering, to filling out forms and folding laundry and to being measurably productive.  But the noise in my head and the motion in my hands is just a kind of a deflecting mechanism, an insurance policy against actual thoughts about reality.  Against the real job of being a mom.

It's harder to be patient, to be present, to listen to the longest story about bowling balls ever in the history of all the world or to explain why it's not a good day to go to the pool even though the sun is out, harder to help a five year old learn to tie his shoes and a two year old learn to cut paper.  Especially when the to-do list is lurking nearby, calling out.

There are no accolades for the numberless repetitions of daily care, no awards for having every single item of clothing laundered, no promotion for being especially patient.

The state of my home is not a matter for pride or shame.  The shape of my boys is not a matter for pride or shame.  Shoot, the condition of my mental health is not a matter for pride or shame.

I needn’t have an allegiance to my habits, especially when they lean bad, when they bully me into believing something is bigger than it really is.  I need to break more of the little rules I've made for myself, about mothering and making messes, about living and being lazy.  I need to doubt my doubts instead of my capabilities, to feel less guilty about all the good I did not do.  I need to know that I give them everything I have, even on days when that's not much at all.

I know just because I make the thoughts go quiet doesn't mean I've gotten rid of them.  I may need to push the crazy down a flight of stairs again tomorrow.
The days are long, but they're getting shorter.
The days are full and they fly by.  The days are, by and large, a blast.
And sometimes, when I find a safe slice of silence to stand in, I catch a whisper of a voice that’s saying “Good job.  You’re doing great.” I have to turn the volume way up to be sure I’m hearing it right.  But I think I am.

1 comment:

The Wendels said...

That voice that's saying "Good job. You're doing great." is spot on!