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Can’t

She says it daily, sometimes hourly. She says it sometimes with whining and sometimes with earnest conviction. Regardless, she says it and I hate it.

I can’t.

You can, I tell her, daily, sometimes hourly. I remind her, sometimes with motherly exasperation, sometimes with earnest conviction:

You can and you will. I am not raising kids who can’t, I’m raising kids who can. I know who you are and what you’re capable of.

This will lead to her harrumphing her way to a curled up position somewhere, fingers at her lips, doe eyes looking up at me like I have just asked her to sacrifice her favorite doll to the garbage gods.

My goodness, Lila, I’ll say, it’s just getting dressed (or putting your clothes away, or brushing your teeth, or taking a shower, or…fill in the blank, ordinary task that you do every day.)

She never quite believes me, though the task (eventually) gets done, by her own hands. (And with me, prodding her along with such peppy and helpful mommy-isms as: How much energy have you wasted just whining about it? You could have been done and doing something else by now!)

This afternoon, my house is a disaster. I have accomplished a lot, delicous roast dinner, Christmas cookies baked and bundled, children fed, read to and their bedroom picked up – but I have left such a wake behind me that I can’t even begin to figure out where to start cleaning (why not sit down for ten minutes and blog then instead? Sure, sounds great.)

But, did you see what I just said there? I can’t even begin to figure out where to start.

I can’t.

If I want to know where my daughter gets her overwhelmed and defeated attitude toward life, I need only to look in the mirror.

How many afternoons do I see the sun starting to slip down in the sky and then turn my attention to the war zone at my feet. Disaster, everywhere. Kids, everywhere. Life, everywhere. How many times have I called and uttered the same obnoxious thing to my husband, “just get home soon, I can’t anymore. I’m done. I. Just. Can’t.”

My goodness, God, I am so sorry. Because, if I haven’t heard you before, I am hearing you now. You know me, you made me, and you did not make me incapable of that which you put before  me.

And also, a big reminder to myself: Self, it is just a house. It is just laundry. These are small, manageable things and I am an intelligent and capable person.

If my house isn’t perfect (which it never is), it will still be standing and warm and plenty good enough for my family and I.

And if my children are rough around the edges, or walking around the store with two mismatched socks, because they couldn’t (or I couldn’t) be bothered to find the matching set –  they are just learning and growing, sort of like me.

And really, after all, dear self: It’s just dishes or laundry or wiping a counter or sweeping a floor (or insert unimportant, mundane task here) and you are more than capable.

(And if I had chosen to do any of the above, rather than blogging right now, I would be done already.)

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