Monday, January 9, 2012

Praise Every Morning.

Picture it:  A sunny Sunday morning in January 2012.  Miss J, M and I sing along with the radio as we prepare to leave for Sunday School.  We leave for church, their faces washed clean and hair neatly combed. They are the picture of poise and grace as we enter our house of worship. When we return later that morning, Miss J and I don our matching aprons and together we bake a cake, from scratch, as warm afternoon sunlight gently pours in through the kitchen window.

Do you believe me?  Want to know how it really went down?

I have the best intentions.  Really, I do.  I would love to be that perfect mother who always wears a gentle smile and never raises her voice.  Who has the perfect balance of love and discipline with her  perfectly behaved  and perfectly happy children living in the perfect house that never has a thing out of place and always smells of fresh baked bread.   

The day started well enough.  We were all up.  I had my plan, my schedule for the day. I had my morning shower and my coffee (both hot, just how I like it).  I smiled when my sleepy-eyed children so sweetly greeted me with morning hugs.  And then.....Miss J got sassy.  Milk was spilled on the counter.  Miss J's shoe was missing.  Again. (Surprising?  Not in the least.)  M did not want to get dressed.  He screamed.  He yelled.  He laid all 80 pounds of himself on the floor and went overcooked noodle on me, refusing to move.  While I was attempting to get M up off the floor and dressed, Miss J , ten minutes before we need to leave, began constructing an elaborate maze for her pet hamster out of cardboard tubes, tape and tacky glue.  Tacky glue is running down the side of the bottle and onto the rug. Her teeth and hair, both unbrushed.  Shoe, still missing.  M is still screaming.  No one has yet fed the dogs.

I have lost patience.  I am yelling.  Miss J, near tears,  is informing me that I am mean.  I tell her that I am running away and perhaps she'd like to find another mother who isn't mean.  (Not exactly my shining parenting moment but this is the honest me.) M is feeding the dogs apples.  I am not exactly sure where the hamster is.

We get in the car and the fighting between M and Miss J begins.  There is yelling.  There is pinching. There is crying.    I turn up the radio to drown out the noise.  I try to avoid looking into my rear view mirror because I can see arms and legs flailing. 

My children emerge from the minivan on this beautiful, sunny Sunday in January and they are red-faced and sweaty.  M's shoe is half off and Miss J's hair is a tangled mess.  They arrive for Sunday School and I have never been more happy to hand my children off to another adult. For the next 45 minutes I sit in silence and wait for them.  I find a book in the church library, "How to Raise Children Without Raising Your Voice."  I speed read through the book.

The part about making the cake from scratch?  That was real.  I had promised Miss J that we would make a pound cake.  We just needed to go to the grocery store to buy butter and a few other things.  The grocery store trip went about as well as out excursion to church.  Miss J was pushing the cart, not watching where she was going half the time and hitting the shelves.  M was no happy camper.  He announced, loudly, to the store that he wanted to check out.  In case anyone didn't hear, he made sure to repeat this over....and over....and over. 

We did bake the cake, but Miss J lost interest half way through and left.  

Somehow I got through the rest of the day and eventually threw my weary self into my own bed.

In the midst of the chaos today, I was listening to Cat Steven's song, "Morning Has Broken".  It is one of my favorites.  My favorite line is, "Praise with elation, praise every morning."  

I love it.  I tell myself I need to  hang a sign in my room so that the first thing I see when I begin my day is, "Praise with elation.  Praise every morning." 

Praise every morning.  Even the ones like yesterday.

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