I started my day laying in bed saying specific prayers over each of my kids and for myself as I prepared to jump into another week filled with unexpected virtual school, unusually extra cold temperatures, frozen water pipes and a stir crazy family who’d been cooped up inside for far too long with dangerously low levels of vitamin D of the sunshine variety. Over the last couple of weeks of buying and selling our homes, moving and just general chaos of settling in whilst homeschooling whilst working from home whilst being snowed in, I could feel my shoulders rising ever so much closer to my ears, my patience wearing as thin as the sheets of ice that have been layering our streets and an instinct to hide away and not engage, instead distracting myself with my phone or book. No more, said I. Not today. Today was going to be a GOOD day. Today I’d be “fun mom,” I thought.
That is a pile of disgusting cat litter.
You see, it’s been in the negative teens overnight here in Tulsa, OK, so I didn’t want our kitties to freeze in the garage where they usually spend the night due to their penchant for nocturnal prowling, curtain climbing and general rowdiness that they rarely exhibit during socially acceptable daytime hours. Each freezing night, we schlep one of the litter boxes from the garage into the laundry room for the overnight cat hotel, and then, the next morning, we schlep it back out into the garage into the cat enclosure we built (no liter boxes in the house normally, thank you very much!).
Did you know litter is heavy? Did you know it’s extra heavy when one is bent over at the waist trying to heave and ho an awkwardly shaped box full of it through the twists and turns of one’s home, all the while dodging and swerving around a multitude of cats, dog and human offspring in one’s path while also trying very hard NOT to drop said heavy cat pee receptacle on one’s toes?
Well, I can inform you that it IS quite heavy.
It is also quite messy.
Especially when the (insert curse words here) litter box decides to unhinge itself mid-schlep and spill half of it’s used and quite smelly contents all over the floor and feet of said schleper…me.
All this took place within minutes of rising from my bed post-prayer-time, and, funnily enough, I did NOT sound very holy as I stomped and muttered, sweeping cat poo and snapping at one particular child who, seemingly unaware of the disgusting carpet of litter upon the floor, marched right through the granules to whine that I hadn’t yet found time to a.) make her toast and eggs for breakfast nor b.) find her a new sock because the one on her left foot was “too soggy and floppy.”
No. Nope. Not the fun mom right then and there, I shall admit.
Frustratingly, it only took mere minutes (and one large, stinky spill) to take my carefully curated morning attitude and toss it right into the…you guessed it…litter box. Why? Why couldn’t I make it through one more morning of unexpected swirliness and just find a way to be the “fun mom” I’d set out to be that morning?
Because guess what. The “fun mom” myth is just that. A myth. In my limited experience of mothering a multitude (okay, four) of minions these last ten years, I’ve put so much pressure on myself during different seasons of life. This season is no different, and I think I’ve been overcompensating and over-pressure-putting on myself because we moved recently. After that upheaval, I want the girls to feel secure, loved, seen and settled, and I feel like I’ve only been able to give them two of the four lately. There’s just no way to be a real live mom dealing with the day in and day out monotony and also be “fun” alllllll the time.
But…there ARE ways to find pockets of “fun mom” moments amidst the swirl, the unexpected snow days, the frozen pipes, the days spent living out of boxes where you can’t find your own underwear, let alone the EXACT right stuffed animal that child number 3 neeeeeeeeds right then and there or their heart might break into a million tiny pieces.*
*we can be a dramatic bunch at times.
Anyway, nothing life changing in this realization of mine today. Probably will have to remind myself to take the pressure off and just do my best the rest of my mothering life. I tend to be hard on myself, and that just ends up spilling over and squashing any and all fun, not only for mom but for the rest of the crew, too.
So. In case you too started your day with high hopes and precious plans for patience and a playful attitude…and then you spilled proverbial litter all over that ‘tude…you are not alone. Today I was kind of a crap human for a bit, and I had to put myself in timeout and (once again) attitude adjust. Because isn’t that what parenting is all about in the end? Adjusting oneself to mold around the needs of little people who love you? Lowering expectations of perfection and instead playing on the floor in your PJ’s and having PB+J for dinner…again? Running around in your husband’s sweatpants with the kids, chasing the crazy dog through the snow, falling down and bonking your bottom to the delighted laughter of your children who see that they’ve been SEEN in that snowy moment spent together?
I think that’s what it’s about.
And, if tomorrow I spill cat litter all over the floor again, I’ll just have to adjust, readjust, sweep up my ‘tude along with the litter and start again. And start again. And start again.
Because that’s motherhood. Fun (sometimes), messy (all the time), and constantly adjusting expectations, plans, outlooks…and floppy, soggy socks. 😉
(Edited to add: I see that my friend and fellow Okie Elizabeth from @creekgrown on Instagram had a similar experience today, and if this post resonated with you, you’ll likely feel very seen by checking out her post on Instagram today.)