Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun shone for the first time in what felt like a long time. It was warm enough to fling the doors open for some of the day and let the fresh air penetrate the house, to clear out the funkiness of an overly long winter. And I was ready to revel in it, to throw myself into springtime in a big way, get out into it as a family and ENJOY. But it was a Saturday. And 2 of the three kids were in a funk, and had in no way received the memo. They didn’t care about my plans. Their mouths were turned down, their cries of unfairness were relentless, they were annoying each other with an even higher frequency than usual, and seemed oblivious, unaffected and unchanged by the blue sky that had been absent for so long.
And try as we might, nothing was good enough. Nothing shifted the funk. Maybe they were tired, or getting sick, or tired after the first week back at school after a fortnight’s holiday. I don’t know. There was nothing I could pinpoint. Nothing they could articulate. But slowly and steadily, their funk infected me and their dad. The day became an endurance test, something to be survived, not enjoyed as the sunny skies had promised. And the whole thing was made worse by the fact that the open back doors made it feel like our inability to jolly on our grumpy kids was being broadcast to those who lived around us too. Perfect.
And I was desperately disappointed in them. So frustrated that their mood had not met my own, that my hopes for the day had been dashed. I wanted them to be playing happily in the garden, not whining, wanting to stay inside, asking to retreat into the many screens that never seem far from their thoughts. At points I felt overwhelmed as I contemplated my own inability to rally the troops, felt shame that my kids had forgotten how to be kids, that this was in some way my doing, my shortcoming as a parent. My inability to manage the situation felt rubbish, I hated how powerless I felt to make the day different.
And then I woke up this morning, and a post from Momastery greeted me from my Facebook timeline in the most timely of ways. It read:
What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.
And suddenly the preceding day made a bit more sense. And so many other days. When one of the trillion variables that have the ability to rock our family boat has caused a day, an outing, a meal to go tits up. And left me slightly worn out and deflated. Another reminder why parenting is one of the most vulnerable journeys we will ever take. How by welcoming these little people into our lives, we have to let go of our notions of how it is supposed to be. Because the picture’s in our head, and our kids can’t see it, and really don’t care about it at all.
Its hard to let go of how it’s supposed to be – sometimes its downright disappointing, But if that picture in our head does indeed screw us up, then maybe those pesky kids are offering us a gift – by forcing us to live in the moment, to lean into the joy when its present, and clean up the shit when it hits the fan.
So today, when the sun came out again, and the kids were more cheerful and spent the day playing in it, I could enjoy it. Not because it was how it was supposed to be, but because it’s how it is.