My absolute favorite place to be in our home is the kitchen, with classical guitar echoing from my Contemporary Folk station on Pandora. It's soothing and happy, as I look through our breakfast nook windows to the expanse of land behind our house, loving the peace and solitude that come with living in the country. I work to make our home cozy. There are candid pictures on the walls, pieces of furniture that come from our family two generations ago, and the kids' artwork haphazardly arranged in their hallway, next to the outfits in which they were dedicated at church. You wouldn't walk into our home and see anything that would replicate the cover of a magazine, but, chances are, you'd want to pour a cup of coffee and relax on the couch.
Last night, Lydia was up six times. SIX. She's two. Having a two year old who gets up six times and interrupts your sleep is the kind of thing that might bring you to the edge of insanity, peering over the edge and wondering if it wouldn't be better to simply jump off into the swirling oblivion below, than to take the effort it takes to maintain your wits. I am two years past the newborn stage and y'all, I like my sleep. But, here's the deal: We transitioned Lydia to a "big-girl" bed last year, and then somehow she ended up in her pack 'n play. I think maybe we had used it for naps? And then it just turned into her bed? I wish I knew, alas, this is part of having three small children ... I only remember what happened ten minutes ago and even then, it's iffy. Regardless, Lydia has been in a pack 'n play, so we decided that last night we would put her BACK into her big-girl bed. Clearly, she had an issue with this idea, not in the let-me-throw-a-fit sort of way; rather, she simply got out of her room six times to wake us up and tell us something about G-Ma's driveway and pink ponies, neither of which required immediate attention, and thusly resulted in the repetitive action of moving her back into her bed. Over. And over. And over and over.
Needless, to say, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. And I mean, literally, I was shoved over uncomfortably to the very edge of my bed, thanks to a certain toddler who at some point, decided the best option was to sleep in our bed and her exhausted mother must have thrown her in there without dispute. She doesn't remember. Ask her later. Also, please do not feel the need to give this exhausted Mother advice on how to transition kids to big beds. This ain't our first rodeo.
I'll do better tonight.
So, I have been extraordinarily cranky today. Yes, extraordinarily. I am unable to put sentences together without determined effort and it's safe to say I've been ... short? with the kids. Snappy, even. And I'm sure my husband was just as thrilled to wake up next to Godzilla this morning, too.
As I look around my house at the pictures, and the furniture, and the couch that welcomes coffee and conversation, I realize that all of those things are but empty pieces of wood and leather and glass and plastic. They can create the look of simultaneous joy and tranquility; however, it is not within their power to create it.
It's me. The wife. The mom.
I set the tone for our home. Whether I like it or not, especially on days like today, where me hiding under the covers seemed like the safest option for everyone, the family looks to me to determine the feel of our home. I set the pace. My smile radiates joy and my scowls send a message of unsettled frustration, and I know my family can feel it. I know that in one swift move I can make a moment awesome, or I can make it miserable. And I really want my kids to feel awesome. Or, at least to have moments of awesomeness amidst a frustrating day.
This all came to me as I stood in the kitchen, making my lunch, with classical guitar coming from my Contemporary Folk station on Pandora, as I looked through the breakfast nook windows at the expanse of land behind our house. But I did not feel peaceful. And as I looked around the house at those smiling faces in the frames, I knew that my exhaustion, though justified, was but a very, very small and unimportant thing that was making the mood of our home feel unsettled. I don't think it's worth it.
The reality is, I'm tired today. But I'm not promised tomorrow. So, I will either suck it up and try my best the rest of the day (which will undoubtedly vacillate between winning and failing), or I will continue in this pattern of grumpy self-pity, causing the loved ones around me to walk on eggshells. And that's just no fun.
My second cup of coffee is brewing and I am going to really try to choose joy today. Because I want those smiling faces in the frames to tell the truth. That joy does live here.
Even with a a two year old in a big-girl bed who wakes us up to talk about pink ponies.
Have a lovely day.