Being a parent can feel a little (okay a lot) like living in a continual revolving door: going round and round in circles, getting dizzier and dizzier by the moment, but rarely moving forward. Or at least in the way we commonly conceive forward to be.
Today I had one of those days. But alas, I went to bed last night, and I woke this morning, expecting something different. My first mistake: harbouring ill-conceived high expectations. Being a parent of young children is nothing but humbling: by breakfast time I had well and truely been brought back to earth.
My expectations on first glance may not sound so grand, but therein lies the deception. E was off to preschool as she does twice a week, and W and I were to be staying home alone together. With six hours of no E, and only W, the potential for chaos (or so I thought) had been radically diminished. W after all is my little baby (at least for a few weeks more), my companion, or as I naively said to Dr M just last night: my little shadow. The one who would accompany me without question —as question asking is still a little beyond his 20-month capabilities — as I did what I so desired to do: create order out of chaos, divide washing piles from surfaces, uncover floor beneath the fallen debris of toys. Breathe.
But W, it appears, had other ideas. While I doubt that his mischief-making was in any way premeditated, it nonetheless —like a missile attack —put a very large hole in my very hopefully-inflated plans.
In light of all I’ve said above, I thought it might be helpful if I shared with you some of the items on W’s To-Do List.
- While mummy folds washing into baskets, unfold washing and disperse generously throughout the house
- While mummy picks up long lost objects from living room floor (like old cruskits, beloved dolls gone AWOL, and coins that could pose choking hazards) hunt also for hidden items. Pens and pencils are particularly useful acquisitions.
- On finding a suitable drawing implement, preferably a thick black texta, use to ‘decorate’ living room floorboards, as well as significant portions of own body (be sure to remember the face, focussing on the mouth region)
- While mummy sweeps old food from the floor, remove contents of dustpan and proceed to eat old food items.
- Smear cream cheese onto couch and watch mummy clean couch with wet cloth
- Help mummy ‘clean’ by tipping contents of milk bottle upside down onto couch, further wetting cushions
- [And for the grand finale] when mummy takes us to the shops, play chasings. The travellator is an excellent destination to head for and makes mummy run extra fast.
So parent-out-there, I share this list not merely to rant and complain, but to hopefully show solidarity. Perhaps through reading this, someone out there will feel less alone when you too are in the midst of toddler tyranny over your household.
But in all seriousness, this is life, isn’t it. One might even say this is the REAL stuff of life. Not our wish-dreams of perfection, made at a distance, but our very actions in the moment to moment motion of the everyday.
And perhaps, even, there is something of ‘grander’ purpose to be said of this incessant merry-go-round. For in attending to our children – like in any role in life that involves putting another before oneself – we learn service. And perseverence. And —even —joy?
Didn’t our saviour afterall wash his disciple’s dirty feet as he trod the surface of our tipsy-topsy world?