It was one of those days…you know ‘thooooooose days’. The washing, the tidying, the tormenting, the whining, the accidents, the countless attempts to keep things moving smoothly, to keep the chaos at bay, to keep myself from feeling like I was merely treading water.
I don’t mean this in the poetically dramatic sense…but more so in the humorous, laugh instead of cry type sentiment.
Picture this…you start by preparing yourself for a soothing yet athletic swim in the harbour. You dress in all the right gear; skins, goggles, flippers…THE LOT. You go for a brisk walk and commence your very well rehearsed stretching reseme. You dive elegantly into the pool, making the tiniest of splashes as your feet enter the water. You begin your Olympic like stroke. Things are going well. You’re gliding through the water. Then BANG wave. You steady yourself and recommence. Then BANG wave. You steady yourself again, and continue. Then BANG wave…this time you begin to feel a little flustered, your hair is in disarray, goggles filled with water, flippers floating away…. spluttering for breathe. You begin to panic…. where are these waves coming from, maybe I didn’t warm up right?!? Maybe I wore a different swim suit yesterday…Maybe I should have come to the pool earlier?!? Maybe I didn’t check the weather forecast right?!?
And then you stand, only to realize that you are not in fact lost in the depths of the pool, being hit by mysterious waves, but in the shallows, flailing in the white wash that you have created for yourself (thoughts/expectations/guilt/analysis)…
Mama Being Frank….some days it feels as though parenting is not that dissimilar to this. You do ALL the preparation and planning one can do to raise the likelihood that the day will feel smooth, pleasant, calm. But then those mysterious waves start to roll in out of nowhere.
The breakfast you served your toddler wasn’t right.
The red polkadot dress that HAD to be worn was in the wash.
The snack bag that you packed so diligently for the day ahead was ravaged before you left the house.
A tornado of mess followed you as you made every attempt to leave the house in some kind of order.
The washing on the sink seems to be multiplying at every glance.
The quite that you notice is in fact the remains of a science experiment that has been undertaken in the bathroom…at closer inspection you realize that there is in fact a full roll of toilet paper disintegrating through the bath.
You finally rally the troops after negotiating what feels like an army of mystical creatures into the car, to realize that you have indeed left the keys inside the house and are now locked out, strapped in, with nowhere to go.
And the day has just begun.
Why!! Why is it on the days that feel hard, the more you try to gain a sense of calm, the more you feel you are struggling? The harder you try to ‘get on top of things’ the more they pile up.
In Aus we have what we call a ‘rip’. They are streams of water that move with a powerful force. The pull of the movement can take you quickly out into the depths of the ocean. From the age of tiny tots, Australian kids are taught some basic, but important, safety skills. Skills that help you stay afloat, and seek safety. What stands out to me is the message….the more you try to swim against the rip, the more you will struggle…..don’t panic, stay calm, seek help.
And the it dawned on me, what a perfect anecdote for the days of parenting that feel a lot like, sink or swim. What if we were more freely able to pause, breathe, and step in by actually LETTING GO.
Instead of trying to regain control of a day that seems to be running itself, let go.
Instead of trying to think through just why and what feels so hard. let go.
Let go, breathe, be present.
Easier said than done I know, trust me, I know.
One savior for us on a day like the one narrated above, is to get outside. Not just out, but outside, in nature. This helps us find a way of being present, connecting with one another and letting go. And then as we reenter the days plan, or reenter the mess filled home…the struggle seems to feel…different. Not so consuming, not so big, not so hard.
I guess sometimes, riding the rip tide of motherhood, is the best way.