Getting the cherubim to bed early
after our action-packed day
was the only way to preserve my sanity
the kids were falling apart and I was losing it.
therefore, BED TIME came early at our house.
Now it’s quiet.
Now I will take a big breath and…
a sigh of relief.
I will hopefully rediscover the good in me
the guilt runs strong with this one
I lost my temper many times this afternoon
and it doesn’t matter how many times I kept it,
how many times I flowed with forbearance
or moved with magnanimity–
the way my emotional system works,
losing my temper just once means
I have failed to be the mother I think I should be
having lost it multiple times–
I am worse than a failure.
who will step in to mother the child in me who is tired?
who will hold and cradle this little one
who wants to be understood, who wants to be safe?
my inner child threw tantrums today
outraged at the work she was being asked to do
maybe I need to put her to bed early too.
So, I was wild and crazy and took myself and the kids to the NCR trail today. I put my bike on the rack, dusted off our helmets, made a picnic lunch, checked and double checked to make sure we had enough water, enough diapers, changes of clothes, and we managed to make it out for a bike ride. I hitched up the bike trailer for the two kids to ride in, put their helmets on them, strapped them into the trailer seats, gave them each a bag of raisins and crackers to placate them enough to give me peace for about five minutes of ride time, and off we went.
In the past, the kids are slapping at each other and knocking their helmets together after only a few minutes. I cannot blame them, it’s close quarters in the trailer and young children are not made to be sitting still for long. So having learned my lesson from my past experiences, today I determined that it would be wise to plan on quick bouts of riding in between some moments of freedom for the little ‘uns to get out and stretch their legs.
My plan worked. Five minutes in, we stopped off at a bridge, and I got them out of the trailer so they could have a look at the water. My daughter naturally then wanted to chuck rocks into the water, a favorite childhood pastime, so we hunted around in the already picked over gravel to find rocks worthy of chucking. There was a high chain link fence lining both sides of the bridge, presumably to prevent unplanned aquatic adventures among the younger travelers, so each time they were ready to throw I had to hold the kids up high enough to give their rocks a good trajectory into the water. My son was squealing and chuckling every time I lifted him up; my daughter said she could do it on her own, but after a few failed attempts, she had me hold her up too. About twenty stones were chucked before it was time to get back in the trailer and ride to our picnic spot.
Another five minutes on the trail, and we pulled over to a spot with a bench that was partially shaded by a well-placed tree. Sandwiches, crab chips, and dried mango slices made a delicious picnic…doesn’t everything taste better when you’re outside? There was a monarch butterfly flitting around some lovely little purple flowers, and my daughter spoke to it in a conversational tone.
“Hiii! Hiiii butterfly! I know you just want to be understood!” Okay, she’s four. Where did that come from? I’m glad she understands the needs of butterflies. Warms my heart.
Pretty soon an older gentlemen appeared on the trail with two fishing poles, watched my kids starting to go down the steps toward the river, and warned me to not let them go down there. I chased after them, thinking that there would at least be a riverbank or something at the bottom of the steps, and discovered that no, the water was clear up to the landing right at the bottom. And, there was poison ivy poking out of the railing, which, um…NO THANK YOU. So I collected them back to me, and we marched upwards to the trail. I told the gentleman that there sure was lot of poison ivy down there, and he replied, “It’s not the poison ivy I’m worried about, that water is much deeper than it looks. With last night’s rain, everything is flooded.”
Yikes. I added May I never have to jump into a muddy river to save my child from drowning to my list of things I never want to have to do as a parent. Other items on the list include: May I never have to give them the Heimlich maneuver, May I never have to catch their throw up in public, May I never ever be caught again without a change of clothes and a poop accident on my hands…
After a time my son was being a little too adventurous and I could feel myself tensing up…river on one side, parking lot on the other, and it occurred to me that stopping while we were ahead would be yet another good plan. So we packed everything up and headed back to where we had parked our car. We had ridden about two miles.
In the olden days before husband and children, I would ride 40 miles on the trail within a matter of hours, no problem. I would feel the wind buzzing past my ears, I’d have my hydration pack strapped to my back, and I’d be peddling like–as my dad likes to say–a bat outta hell. The freedom of whizzing through the forest, watching the scenery change, passing people jogging or strolling along, nodding to fellow cyclists, smiling and saying hello to any friendly person. Yep, 40 miles, no problem.
But things are different now. I’m a mom, and there is no way my kids are going to sit mutely and let me ride like the wind for hours on end. And I don’t want them to sit mutely. I know that they want to live too. They want to run and play and enjoy being free to whoop and dance and squeal and bounce…and I want them to know that their freedom matters to me. So just four miles today, and it was a good day, because I balanced my desire to ride with my desire to skillfully meet my children’s needs.
Back at the car I gave the kids drinks that I had kept in a cooler and let them run around the grassy knoll bordering the parking lot before we began our drive back home. Trailer packed up and in the trunk, bike hitched to the rack, both kids in their car seats, yeah, I got this. I haven’t lost my temper once! I’m on a roll!
But then we got home, and they were tired, and I was tired, and jeez…things deteriorated rapidly. I don’t have to get into it. I’m sure many of you can imagine what went down between the time we got home and the time I got them bathed, fed, and in bed. The poem above says it all…I started off the day feeling like I was a pretty awesome mom, and that feeling continued into the afternoon, but then I finished the day wishing that I could keep my temper in check for the whole day, not just half of it.
Ah well, one day at a time, one step at a time, one thought at a time. It’s not even 8pm, and I’m posting! I’ll meditate, and then early to bed for me too.