I Don’t Want to Smile This Morning
I’m feeling rough this morning. Forcing my mom smiles create a lot of extra effort. It’s Friday the 13th and a full moon. From my experience in childcare, I can say with some certainty that everything they say about the moon messing with kids and pets is true.
Last night, I woke at 12 to an insane rattling noise downstairs. My mild-mannered cat had found the cat nip and was voraciously attacking it. At 2 the baby woke and wanted to nurse. At 5:15 the girl woke up crying that she had peed the bed. She has never, ever wet the bed. She soaked everything, including myself. Then the baby woke again from the noise. It was that point that I’m certain most working moms have had, do I go to bed for that extra thirty minutes I so desperately need? I know it would just make me groggier- but dang the bed looks inviting. Or do I get up, shower, and zombie through my day?
Choosing the latter, I turned the water on as hot as I could stand and stayed in as long as I wanted.
There is still an extra half hour until the daycare kids arrive. Showers soothe me in a way I never knew was possible from a shower until I had kids. Taking a deep breath, I plan our day in my mind, and smile. I get out, relaxed. I grab a towel, drying off. But then I looked down, only to discover my body covered in hundreds of tiny hairs. I grabbed the towel my husband used to shave with last night. Awesome. Back in the shower I go.
A couple of hours later, I’m sitting on the floor next to the dishwasher which desperately needs emptied. My snotty, cranky, swollen gummed son can’t see me from my hiding spot. Blowing on my coffee, I am willing it to cool with my mind, so I can have a moment of peace before I start my morning. My morning which, in reality, has started without me. I stare at my chipped toes. I could really use a pedi. At least I got a shower in today.
Coffee, Do Your Magic
The Littles are playing sweetly, the baby is down for his nap. The “Heavenly Lullaby” station on Pandora is streaming quietly through my downstairs. I was too tired to clean up last night, so I’m already starting the day behind. I managed to re-run the laundry that has been sitting in the washer for three days. Last night’s kid urine-soaked sheets are next. The cat box needs emptied and I need to rinse off poopy cloth diapers.
At least I got a shower in today.
With a smile, I take a sip of my gloriously still warm coffee.
“I can do this,” I tell myself. “I just need one more sip of coffee, then I’ll emerge from my hiding spot.”
And I will. I’ll get up, do my thousand little chores. I’ll fix the Kids breakfast, mediate a dozen four-year old disagreements, wipe away tears about the unfairness of toddler life. I will switch over laundry. I’ll warm the pumped bottles of milk. Relishing the squishy baby snuggles from our newest little, I feed him his bottle. Then I will nurse my drool-box of a son, before strapping him to my back with the Lillebaby.
We will read a book. Kiss wild, curly heads. I’ll sing silly songs as I clean and the kids will shout and laugh and play and maybe sing along. Taking a deep breath, I’ll pull from my reserved strength and pour it into my Littles, over and over. Because as I pour into them, my heart fills. Childhood is a joyful, wondrous thing. Children deserve to be raised in a home where that joy is embraced.
God what is that smell?
Just one more sip of coffee.
At least I got a shower in today.
I take a breath and put on a bright smile, emerging from my hiding spot.
Finding Joy and Choosing to Smile
When Imp first started preschool, I inquired about her teachers. She said that the primary teacher was her favorite, because she was the one who smiles. As a caregiver that resonated so deeply with me. She didn’t care what books she read, what crafts she did. She loves her teacher because she’s The One Who Smiles. Some days I’m dirty, the house is dirty, my coffee is cold. Other days I’m well rested, I’m on top of my chores, and I even manage a little make up. The kids don’t care either way. They care that my patience is long, my smiles are easy, and their play is busy and enriched.
My children’s need for a mother who smiles, an environment that is joyful and fulfilling, is stronger than my personal need zombie this morning. Because these seven little people rely on me making the choice to smile every day. My Littles are not cogs and wheels to turn and rotate throughout the day. They are real, whole people. Therefore, Children should be treated as such. They don’t care that I’m running on no sleep, and honestly, today, neither do I. The image I have of my children, the environment I create, is all that matters today. Loris Malaguzzi, is the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach. In his Exchange article, “Your Image of the Child: Where Teaching Begins,” which is included in the new digital Exchange Essential, “Inspiring Practices – Part 1,” he observed…
The environment you construct around you and the children also reflects this image you have about the child. There’s a difference between the environment that you are able to build based on a preconceived image of the child and the environment that you can build that is based on the child you see in front of you — the relationship you build with the child, the games you play. An environment that grows out of your relationship with the child is unique and fluid.”
So today, I will be the mom who smiles. My kids will need me, my house will need me. I will pour myself into them.
And I will smile.
What obstacles do you struggle with in your daily journey with your children? How do you choose joy when you find yourself stretched too thin? What characteristics are important for you to impress upon your children and your program?
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