The Happy Chaos of Parenting
Our home is chaos. Happy chaos. Most of the time.
Three little girls seven and under battle for the bathroom sink and mirror. Our five-month old infant nurses at night for forty minute clips. Our self-owned business is all-consuming at times.
Our youngest dog is blind in one eye from gunshot wounds he suffered before he came to us. Our oldest dog is fifteen and our middle dog recently braved major surgery and bone cancer and copes with three legs. There are those added arguments and complications of every day life whose specifics you choose to spare from media posts, blogs, and public consumption.
There are mornings where I oversleep. There are moments at breakfast where I scold my children to eat the charred toast I just burnt. There are nights I forget to pack lunches for tomorrow.
On the days where I feel like I’m running a nursing home for dogs and the nights where I am wiping ink off the closet door, I remind myself that this is holy chaos. I blinked and my dogs are in the sunset of their lives. In what feels like a single heartbeat, I will be turning around and handing my car keys off to my kids.
I recall a post-surgery medical prognosis fifteen years ago where the odds of ever having babies were bleak at best. I remember to myself that I prayed for this mess and I hold onto that memory of a prayer in the swirling chaos. These paper doll scraps that fill our floors, these cursed Shopkins creatures that I blindly step on, and these plastic, sticky remnants of doggy tea parties are sacred. They are a sacred mess. They are holy scatterings of blessings granted.
In the midst of everything, messy and holy, our second grader has a reading log to complete every single week.
The concept of the reading log is to read for at least twenty minutes a day. Every day. There are weeks that begin with me carefully selecting what books would be interesting to read. And there are nights where I wonder if I turned directly from page 2 to 10 if my daughter would notice. There are moments where I want to pull the book from her and read it out loud because its late and I am tired, and she is reading aloud so very methodically slow.
In theory, we select books to read together. In practicality, she often grabs a book and reads. When I was preoccupied last week, she found a self-help book and began to read.
She was about twenty-two pages into this grown-up book before I realized what my child was reading.
“What are you reading? “, I questioned with the guilt of inattentiveness.
My daughter explained, “Mom I found this great book.”
“Maybe it’s too old for you?” I quipped.
“Mom it is about forgiveness. We all need that.” She explained, “Mom, we forgive for ourselves not just the other person. If not, it will weigh you down. You must forgive things that aren’t perfect. Things will never be perfect mom.” And with that my second grader walked off.
I had read that same book a few months ago and I did not receive that message so clearly.
Things will never be perfect. Perfection is not the goal. It is the sin. It is the thief that sneaks in and steals the present away. It steals the imperfect authenticity of the present moment away while we busy ourselves with trying to make it neat and shiny and look the way others tell you it should be.
I would not trade my rescue dogs for the pick of the litter. I would not trade my mess. I would only slow time.
My intention for this year is to make no resolutions. No resolutions here — just affirmations.
I will simply do my best to be present. I will be present in the mess and in those rare moments that work out better than expected. I will certainly fail at times. Many times. I will then try again and again.
Forgiveness is hard. Forgiving ourselves can be even more difficult.It is impossible to be present for others when we fail to forgive ourselves for being human.
There is a realm of possibility that lies just beyond our judgements of others and ourselves. I will forgive starting with myself. I will show up for myself, for my loved ones, and for those who are difficult to love.
Life is hard. It is messy and it is beautiful. It is all of the above. There is no trite answer just a million smaller ones. I strongly believe the best things in life lie outside of our comfort zones and right beyond the lines we draw around our expectations. To begin living continuously outside the lines is not just acceptable. It is brave and it is the goal.It is the hallway to transformation.
Originally published at annbrasco.com on January 9, 2017.