I lost it last night.
Over so, so much dog poop on my floor, and teeth that should have been brushed already and a game of Go Fish cut short by the minutes ticking too quickly to bedtime and a six year old who was being rude and a toddler with a mess of her own squishing down the legs of her sleeper pajamas and a husband stuck out late at a staff meeting.
Oh, it was a perfect storm.
My older three sensed it coming in the air. They bolted from the table, left their Go Fish pairs lined up neatly at their seats, stumbled over one another to get their teeth brushed and to their beds. My youngest cried for me.
And I cried at the poop, at the pee, at the barking puppy (who hadn’t made a peep until after the damage was done – so much for hoping she was starting to “get” house training.)
I can’t even describe the sound that I made as I pushed back the puppy play pen and it slid beneath my weight and drove itself directly into one of the offending piles. It was wordless. It was guttural. It was enough to stop Evie dead in her tracks and send her to the bedroom to take cover with the rest of the children.
An hour later, all foul smelling things had been cleared from my house. Our puppy was in her crate, Evaline was tucked into bed. And I was like a ghost, floating over the disaster of my kitchen, looking down at the piles of Go Fish, the cracker crumbs beneath the table, the dog toys in the corner, the dishes from dinner, the overflowing garbage.
This. This is my life.
On the counter as I unloaded the dishwasher, facebook was open. There, a friend posted a picture of her daughter playing a game of imagination. And she was with her. She was with her. Not cleaning up after her, not chasing her down to explain to her that when she says ugly things, she is ugly, not asking her for the hundredth time to please put her bowl in the sink only AFTER she has scraped her food into the garbage. Not sending out terrifying battle cries in the corner over dog poop, but with her, enjoying the moment.
How much of my day to I spend asking my children to please go and do, so that I can have ten minutes alone to sweep up the mess from what they last went and did?
This isn’t isn’t fun. This isn’t parenting. This is survival and nothing more.
A moment later, dishes not yet done, Evaline was out from her bed with her blanket tucked up under her chin. The puppy barked again to go out.
And so it went. So it goes. This life that runs away from me daily, exhausting me, challenging me, draining me, pooping all over me.
Hours later, Evie was still not sleeping. I carried her to her bed and read to her in the dim nightlight’s glow. She fought sleep still and so I rocked her. I hummed quietly. I stared down at her soft ivory cheeks, her slowly closing eyelids. I stayed with her until I felt her sleeping breaths in my arms.
I was there.
When I finally was able to tuck her in, I kissed each of my sleeping children. I apologized to them, even though they would not hear my words, for a night that ended in a battle cry. I prayed.
And as I left, I picked The Indian in the Cupboard from Alex’s bed. He has been asking me to read it with him so that we can talk about it together. Because there are always a thousand other things to be doing, I have not.
But last night, I walked out of their room, past the crumbs beneath my table, past the messy counter, past the laundry. I laid down in my bed and I read like an eight-year-old. I thought of questions to ask him when we sit down to discuss. I smiled at the parts I thought he would have smiled at. I enjoyed getting a little lost in his imaginary world.
I was there.
So this is my goal for today and every day. Even when I am cleaning poop between packing lunches and shuttling children to the bus stop. Even when Evaline won’t stop opening the puppy’s crate and Asher has spilled two bowls of cereal with milk all over my kitchen table.
I am here.
I am not only surviving this moment in my life, but I am living it, learning to embrace it, and yes, enjoying it.