I freaked out on the kids about Oreos this week. I may have raised my voice about the freeze-dried strawberries in the Special K box. And there was a close call involving glitter in the toilet. I’m willing to bet some of you had similar experiences. Week three chewed me up. I was beginning to amaze even myself at the things I could get annoyed about. So, I hid in the basement for awhile, doubled down on baking bread and started thinking about Abraham Lincoln.
“This too shall pass” was Lincoln’s favorite saying. Will this pandemic end? Yes. Will the world go back to normal? No. I think it took three weeks for that to really sink in for me. Our lives will not pick back up one day as if this never happened. We are walking a bridge to a changed world. I think that might be why I had a meltdown about the world’s best-selling sandwich cookie.
Lincoln’s real gift was his ability to focus on the terribly onerous tasks he faced with both humor and deadly seriousness. Do what you can, endure what you must. Each day is a new battle to say yes to what matters and say no to what doesn’t. We’re being reminded every day that when the world goes crazy, what’s left is family. Try not to yell at them about their dessert choices.
After spoiling the kids in NYC last weekend, I had survivor’s guilt and started worrying that they have no idea how to be grateful. Not to me or Michelle. We are legally required to keep them alive so whether they are grateful or not toward us doesn’t hold much water. But just grateful in general, for pretty much everything. It might not always feel like it minute-to-minute or day-to-day but it is a great time to be alive. And scientifically speaking (we did go to the Natural History Museum last week) it is incredible we are here at all. The odds are so small. So why not rejoice? Well, it can be tough when the day is long and there are fractions to divide, piano to practice, and dishwashers to empty.
But how do you actual teach kids to be grateful? Force feeding it seems like it would backfire. If I made the kids start a gratitude journal I’m sure one of the first things they would write in it (after being thankful for the gloriousness of sparkle slime) is they would be grateful if I stopped making them write in it. Do you just model the behavior and hope it soaks in (my typical approach)? Do you make it a once a week dinner conversation? Do you seek out opportunities?
Anyone have any good routines for instilling gratitude in the tiny consumable monsters we call (per legal mandate) our children?
We had a rare Saturday where we had very little scheduled. We weren’t entertaining. We weren’t crashing someone’s house to be entertained. We had no houseguests. No expectations. The only official thing on the docket was a make-up field hockey game late in the afternoon. Otherwise we were free to make like Whitman or Thoreau, men who valued the virtue of loafing, and spend a Saturday doing very little.
You can probably guess how this goes.
It was a challenge for Michelle to turn off her puritan work ethic. The sweetness of doing nothing does not come naturally. The clutter in the basement, or under the cabinet in the bathroom, or that one drawer in the kitchen, was a siren song…
Next week Cecilia turns nine. She’s getting very good at rolling her eyes. Allison has just a few months left of daycare. If you turn your back on her, she grows three inches. It feels like that moment when the plane is vibrating and hugging the runway, but about to lift off. We are headed somewhere new. Not the teenage wilderness everyone assures us is coming, but somewhere new beyond car seats and labeled food containers.
What challenges might this new place bring? How will the girls react? How can I help them?
I’m a worrier. My mind drifts out to the future and I convince myself of a story that isn’t actually true. When the kids get sick, I’m a basket case convincing myself that a mild cough might be TB and will soon spiral into a hospital stay in the isolation ward. It can be exhausting and with the Addison’s literally bad for my health.
One reason I take the time to do these Saturday posts is because it can act as an antidote. It forces me to stop, slow down and just be with the kids, with Michelle, with myself. At least for one day. I don’t always succeed but there is relief in trying.
Whatever this new place might be, I don’t want to miss out on what is happening now. Like making pancakes with the girls or dancing (poorly) to big Broadway show tunes…..