I had a flash of Betty Crocker motivation this morning, so I made a hot breakfast for the kids. (It’s pandemic times as I’m writing this post and they’re used to going to the drawer of prepackaged snacks for “breakfast”).
Aaaand yep. Within a few minutes I was on my hands and knees, wiping oatmeal off the floor (which, if you’ve ever done this you know, is really just smearing it around with a washcloth).
While I was on the floor, Eli dumped his milk and began skating through it with his bare feet, and the 2 older kids started placing requests for orange juice and oatmeal modifications.
I began to feel the pull of the rip tide, each second becoming less Betty Crocker and more Lord of the Flies.
And it was all pre-bra. This detail feels important, because there’s something about having the milk-makers flopping around that accentuates the indignity of waiting on one’s offspring hand and foot.
Almost without thinking, I began to whisper my mantra from Mother Teresa – the one I’ve been using since my older kids were 1 and 3:
“Small things with great love. Small things with great love. Small things with great love.”
I felt it begin to work, bringing me to a sort of inner sanctum, protected from the chaos.
Then my 6 year old heard me whispering the mantra and started staring at me with the kind of expression that reminded me of the mean girls on the bus in junior high.
“Why do you keep saying that?”
I sighed, stood, and walked to the sink, bits of soggy oats clinging to my arms, my eyes narrowing at the first grader who was about to receive the wrath of bullied 7th grade me in response to her curiosity.
“Because it keeps me from getting angry,” I said angrily.
We’re 11 months into a pandemic and I’ve been with my kids for roughly 482,119 minutes straight. (I’m counting nights, because one child sleeps ON my person). And while there’s a BIG part of me that wants to emphasize the mantra in this story, there’s a more honest part that wants you to remember the snack drawer.
I have not made hot breakfast since the oatmeal incident, and I likely WILL NOT make hot breakfast again until I have more organic balance happening in my life.
A lot of what I do and teach has to do with mindfulness and equanimity. But there’s also the pillar of truthfulness – Satya.
And the truth is, I’m not Mother Teresa. I’m mother Erin from Iowa City.
And after the oats were cleaned up and the kids were settled in front of a wholesome episode of Bluey (parents of anyone under ten cue it NOW!), I came upstairs and drank my coffee alone. And it was awesome.
I don’t have to spell out the point of this story. Keep doing what you can, people. You don’t have to make breakfast. The snack drawer is enough. And it’s perfectly natural to want to have your coffee alone, and hot.
Just do this breath, this step, this day we’re in right now…however you need to. It doesn’t need to be lived just right; just get it lived.