I never know how to answer this. Mainly because at this point I’m completely unfamiliar with the concept of typical, or routine. Even with my special needs kids, the need for a routine just doesn’t seem to be there…or be…possible.
I should have gotten the hint that this was how my life as a parent was going to be when I only had one child, and I was dressing him to go on an outing and he peed through his diaper and onto his fresh, adorable outfit, creating the need for me to change his clothes. Which I did. And then he immediately did the same thing to his backup outfit. So I changed him again. And he did it AGAIN.
Yes, this early warning sign should have been heeded, should have been seen as a dark vision of things to come. It was not.
Fast forwarding six years and that kind of incident is really…typical. Let me walk you through the morning ‘routine’ (haha).
Diva gets up, and her first words to me might me: CUP!! SHOW!! GO GEEGO GO!! (That’s Go, Diego, Go.)
Me: All right, okay. *sets down coffee and hops to attention*
Dive: CUP!! A CUP!!
Me: I know. Just a second. Where is your cup?
I might search for ten minutes and find it behind the couch, where she threw it the night before during a pre-bed fit. Okay, I’ll make her some milk (CHOCATE MIWK!!) okay, chocolate milk, and then I’ll get the show.
Drama awakens: Morning.
Drama: What’s the capital of Minnesota
Me: I don’t know what is it.
Drama: *looks at me like I’m stupid* St. Paul.
Me: Good job.
Drama: I need milk
*makes more drinks. Then cereal.*
Danger gets up. Right now he’s saying: WANT THIS all the time because he knows he’ll get his way as a reward for using speech so from the moment he gets up, everything from the sugar to the jars of jelly to the honey bear (all things he knows he isn’t supposed to have) are WANT THIS. By now, Diva is done with her milk and wants more, but Danger also WANTS THIS and they’ll probably both shout CUP and WANT THIS at me until I get it done.
Then comes the mad search for clothes. No, I didn’t set them out the night before. SOCKS!! WHERE ARE THE SOCKS?? How is it we have three socks and none of them are the same color!? (somewhere in here I drink more coffee)
While I’m hunting for clothes, Danger will manage to get into something. Last week it was Nestle’s Quick. Over the course of the day I had to shower him off three times after he carried the tub of powdered chocolate off and basically PAINTED his body with it. Then I’ll clean up Danger’s mess.
Then I’ll look at the clock and realize it’s time to go. So I load all three kids up into the kick butt mini-van, realize Danger still has chocolate on his face and scrub it off with a cold baby wipe that sat in the car over night (He will fuss at me BUT HE SHOULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN INTO THE CHOCOLATE), get the movie turned on (my van DVD player has saved my sanity on more than one occasion) and start the twenty minute drive to the school.
Halfway there it will occur to me that I forgot Drama’s backpack.
I used to look at the Facebooks of friends I grew up with. At how they got up at six and baked bread and then sat all their sweet, clean-faced children down and they ate a hot breakfast all together. And I would wonder why that wasn’t me. And I would feel bad. But then, also through Facebook, I would watch people grow horribly discouraged about their day, about their parenting in general, because a child got jelly on his new shirt and the whole day was thrown off. Or because they hadn’t managed to keep the house spotless. The day wasn’t perfect.
And then it hit me that life can be so much more enjoyable if the idea of perfect is adjusted just a little bit. Perfect is time spent with my family. My husband, my kids. It’s any day where we avoid a (serious, life-threatening, fire-involving) disaster. It’s when my kids are allowed to be kids. Joyful, messy, annoying, dirty kids.
It’s finding zen in the middle of the chaos. Joy in the imperfection. Because it’s the life I have, and it won’t always be the same. The kids will grow up and I won’t have jelly hand prints on my wall. I won’t have someone chattering in the background (constantly) asking me what state borders Idaho. And I don’t want to look back on this and realize I wished it all away. That I was waiting to arrive at a point of Perfect, and Organized and Clean and Quiet before I could start enjoying it.
I want to enjoy it now. It’s chaos…but it’s my chaos. And it’s the chaos I’ve got. The life I’ve got. My prayer is that I learn to embrace, fully and completely, the joy of the life I’ve been given, and not spend all my time wishing I was doing different or ‘better’.
Though, I bet my husband wishes I would vacuum in heels and pearls. Or maybe he’d just settle for me vacuuming….