Previously a fourth-grade teacher, I once considered myself a master at classroom management. It was both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because my students were well-behaved even with substitutes and a curse because I was assigned the most behaviorally-challenged students, since I could handle it.
Then I had my own children.
I’m currently 9 months pregnant and managing a classroom of 20 behaviorally-challenged students seems like a cake-walk compared to the daily task of getting a 2, 4 and 6 year-old fed, dressed, and out-the door. I might as well be herding cats.
As my due date draws near, I find myself more-easily exhausted and while I appreciate the offer of help from friends and family to help out with meals and running errands, I don’t think there is a perfect solution to the daily challenge of managing three small children.
I’ve created morning checklists combined with incentive-charts to help the two eldest manage their routines but I still find myself saying things like, “We don’t talk about poopy-heads at the table” or “She doesn’t want to be picked up” and “brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth”.
The more frazzled I become, the more braxton-hicks contractions I have, but how does one “let go” and still get out the door?
It’s not just a daily struggle, it’s a minute-to-minute battle to SURRENDER ALL. As soon as I claim victory for getting socks and shoes on the four year-old, the two-year old has replaced hers with rain boots, complete with an umbrella opened inside of the house. Bad luck? Oh, well.
Last night, I described, to my husband, the beginning of each day as a full water balloon. By the time he comes home, a thousand pin holes have been pricked in that balloon and I’m drained. Attempts to plug and patch the leaks are fruitless, a waste of precious energy.
Instead, after Kindergarten drop-off this morning, when the two-year old dashed out of the mini-van to bask in the rain with her umbrella and boots, I grabbed mine and joined her. Dishes? They’ll still be there. Sanity? It’ll be gone anyway.
I like to think of this early-childhood phase as practice for what is to come in the adventure of child-rearing. We can prepare our children with access to support and resources and still watch them struggle to take responsibility to make something of it.
At some point, there is only so much we can do before we have to let go, surrender all and have faith that we are all doing the best we can in that very moment.
In the meantime, we can grab our boots and umbrellas, lift our faces to the sky, and dance in the rain.