"Please help me have new eyes to see." "Please help me see life in a different way." "Let me see the beauty in the chaos, the miracles deep within the brokenness, the love and light in the darkness."
These are the prayers I have been saying for a long time now. Probably since I started to learn for myself what prayer meant some time when my oldest son was 2. Prayer is a lot of times reminding myself what I already have learned a long the way but have temporarily forgotten. Mostly prayer is tuning my thinking to the "hope station" which plays some really good, uplifting jams.
I used to have so much mom guilt. I would read those articles about the different things us moms needed to realize and quick! because our kids were growing up and if we didn't act now, it would be too late. Put your phone down, stop yelling, don't worry if your house is a mess, make sure you capture all the happy memories on film or your blog and don't you dare throw away the precious preschool art work or the teeth they lose. It's like sometimes we are force fed this notion that being who we are right now is not good enough, that our fumbling's are royally screwing our kids up to no return and that we should be striving for a better picture of motherhood, one where the fighting kids are precious memories that we will someday miss. And I get it! Conviction about our shortcomings can help motivate us to love our kids harder. But right around the time that I found myself sobbing on the bathroom floor after watching a lady whose kids went off to college talk about all of these sad things, all these regrets, and then I was apologizing to the universe for not being a good enough mother, I told myself that enough was enough. I stopped reading most of those articles and just vowed to figure it out as I go along with love and a big dose of grace.
Yelling isn't always effective but sometimes it absolutely is. I am a damn good apologizer when I make mistakes, and you know what? My kids are so good at learning to say sorry. Humbling myself and messing up is teaching my kids how to gracefully mess up as well. I am sure someday my kids will have some issues with how I parented them, and that is okay, because we are all just figuring out this life thing together while making mistakes and therefore making it right.
So, I pray not that I could miraculously make myself a better person or more patient mother, but that I would be given new eyes to see the special things in the mundane. When I ask for that, it's amazing how quickly my perspective changes. Try it sometime.
It is winter break and my husband and I have been juggling our work schedules with the boys being home from school. We have been taking them into work with us because thank God we have such awesome and understanding jobs and colleagues. This morning I admit that I wasn't happy that I had to bring them because it adds another level of stress to be in mom mode and work mode all at the same time. However, it all worked out because I spent the first part of the morning preparing for our holiday staff gathering, decorating with my coworker and preparing all the food. I have a hard time delegating and the boys desperately wanted to help and I was worried about getting it all right. My friend wasn't worried about getting it all right and so she gave the boys tasks to keep them busy. Like big things such as using the can opener to open cans. My first thought was "Eek, they have never done that and it can be dangerous and they don't know how to open cans." They learned. They kept busy setting the table, going upstairs for more Poinsettias to decorate with, putting food on the tables, getting the water bottles from the other room, and while there was some bickering, they mostly worked together as a team. Soon I was jumping in with more work for them and they completed the tasks with such efficiency that I knew I had received an answer to the prayer, "Let me see my boys in a different way." People came up to me over and over telling me that my boys are such awesome helpers, so mature, such great kids, so well behaved, so kind, so sweet."
"You're right. I know it and have eyes to see it now." The "burden" of bringing the boys to work was a wonderful blessing.
Caden lost his tooth while we were sitting down for the staff lunch. It had been bothering him for two days and he excused himself, ran off to the bathroom and came back with tooth in hand. He was so proud that he had taken care of business so he could eat his crunchy taco. My heart swelled as I witnessed my boy man through "proud mama eyes", not "agitated and stressed out over stupid drama eyes." He showed his tooth off to my whole work family and they cheered and clapped and he beamed so big. Thank you for that answered prayer.
As I was clearing our plates, I lost track of his tooth. We scavenged the floor and trash and it was no where to be found. I felt like I had ruined his special moment but holding my breath I apologized to Caden and told him I knew how happy he was to lose his tooth and I promised that if he wrote a letter to the tooth fairy that she would still give him the money. His response, "Ya for sure, it happens all the time. Now I can really say I LOST my tooth." And he smiled and hugged me. Seriously? What a guy. I wish the tooth fairy could give him hundreds of dollars for his soul, for the way he loves and for this giant blessing he is to teach me that having new eyes to see is as simple as leading with your heart.
So here's to looking closely at the blessings right in front of me. And also, here's to not seeing them all the time either. When I can't see then I can say the prayer and ask for help with my vision and witness the shift. And so it goes. I will continue to do it over and over because I want to learn and grow and evolve in my humanity and let my heart expand with as much love as it can possibly hold. I want to be a better mother but the only way I know how to do that is to learn. And probably my kids will always be my greatest teachers.