Family · Parenting · Perspective

Mess or Memory?

Looking at this pile of dishes, I asked myself “Mess or Memory?”

After a full day of work yesterday, my daughter and I made the transition home. The hardest part of my day is the transition between work Jen and home/mom Jen. I don’t do it well. I mean, truly…. it’s my snappiest part of the day.

My sweet girl asked “Mom, what are we doing after this?” as I gathered my purse and lunchbag, locked the door, and set the alarm at the office. I audibly groaned. She dropped her head, which then of course made the transition worse.

I’m conscious that this is my hardest moment of each day. Also apparent is that my daughter (and family) deserve more than my leftover energy. Truthfully, all I want to do when I get home is take ten to unwind my brain and then attack the home responsibilities like the laundry, dishes, and dirty floors.

However after a crisp 15 minutes in the cold feeding calves before coming in the house, she asked if we could make something in the kitchen. My snapback comment was that if she wanted to cook, she was on her own but I’d help with measurements and getting ingredients. Whoa. Snippy.

I immediately realized this was the exact thing I was trying NOT to do! She deserves my full mom attention and not a snappy, tired mom answer. As she pulled out a cookbook and started thumbing through it, I took a couple deep breaths. I changed my tune. We discussed what we had in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. After a little discussion, we settled on making chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes…. from scratch!

We used the InstaPot to “speedily” pressure cook the frozen chicken and raw carrots and start a good broth. While it did its magic, we washed, peeled, and diced potatoes. She was shocked to find out that not only did I waitress, but I also peeled hundreds of pounds of potatoes over my teenage years working in restaurants. We giggled. We chatted about 3rd grade things like recess and Red Ribbon spirit week. After all our ingredients were settled and making progress on the stove, we pulled up an “Aurora Teagarden” mystery on Hallmark. That series is a personal favorite for both of us.

After our mashed potato and chicken noodle masterpieces were complete, we laid a blanket on the floor and ate picnic-style. Obviously, we ignored the dishes. When the boys returned home, they enjoyed our kitchen creations too. The evening was enjoyable in its entirety.

I snapped a picture of the kitchen chaos today with the caption “but so many dishes….” and sent it to my never-deleted, infinite text conversation with my mom and sisters. I’m horribly behind in the kitchen. Seven forks. Seven forks is all that’s left in my silverware drawer…. My sister replied, “but all the memories you made!”

In those six words is my choice. Do I look at two overflowing sinks of dishes as a mess or as evidence of memories made? Do I sourly clean my kitchen because its another task on the list… Or, do I invite my children to talk to me while I address the dirty dishes? When I go about these tasks with a light mood and good music, usually dancing ensues. Then the memory already made transforms into another joyful memory.

As in most matters, there is a choice. Mess or Memory?

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Struggle Bus

Well…. I’m so glad that I had such a great perspective on parenting a few days ago. Put me on the struggle bus. My husband is gone for nine days, three states away, with limited phone service. So there’s that.

Let me brag a minute about how fantastic my 8 year old son has been. He helped unload the dishwasher, cleaned up our frozen and sagging pumpkins in the yard, and did his homework with absolutely no complaints or second guessing. I’m genuinely enjoying his company.

Nugget – age 6- was put to bed sobbing last night after being downright nasty and without remorse for it. Following prayers, she had the option of continuing to sob in her bed or reading books. She did them both, respectively. She lost her chance at getting to invite a friend over to play after school today because she launched a marker at her brother’s head as hard as she could yesterday. Again, without remorse. The previous day, she accused me of never making any food- EVER- that she wants to eat. Well honey, we don’t all want to survive on bologna and mac’n’cheeseā€¦ Then my precious girl followed her refusal to eat the chicken, stuffing, corn, and fruit with an epic meltdown where she was unable to make nice words come out of her mouth. “Mom, I just CAN’T make those words come out of my mouth.” *sob* These are all just samples of the overall behavior and attitude.

I’d say this is related to her dad being gone, but we’ve been on this ride for well over five weeks.

Where is Mary Poppins when you need her? Super Nanny Jo? Bueller? Anybody?