At many times, parenthood can be all about leading by example, staying calm under pressure and navigating through rough waters. I sometimes refer to it as a journey aboard Chaos 31. There are moments when the 3:1 (
31) ratio is a little turbulent. Although at times I want to just throw up my hands and shout, “Someone help me out,” there is a lot to be learned amongst the chaos. Trust me, it is not always apparent at first. In fact, I have been at my wit’s end many of times when it comes to raising three little boys.
So often when I am out and about with the boys, strangers say things like, “bless you honey” and “there is a halo glowing above your head.” When in turn they might be really saying, “we’ve been there child” or “gain control of your kids!” Just because one child is playing shopping cart derby in the grocery aisle, while another is climbing Mt. Cereal and the youngest one is throwing dried blueberries at the other patrons, does not mean I do not have it under control. It also doesn’t mean I have a halo or need extra blessings. It simply means – I am a mother of three little boys.
While these three little boys may be rambunctious and well you know, busy being boys, I am learning from them each and every day. Throughout random encounters with chaos and as the turbulent moments pass, I can reflect on the underlying meaning of a flight I did not think I would survive at the time. When I un-board, take a step back and look at the destination traveled I am wiser for being a passenger on Chaos 31. This is what I’ve learned in those extreme moments of turbulence…
1. Always tell the truth. Children do not lie. In fact, many times they are brutally honest. Other times they are just inappropriately honest. Like when you take your 4-year old to get his haircut by your hairdresser and he kindly tells her that you don’t take his other two brothers to her anymore because she doesn’t do a good job on them. Oh yes, he did. So, I look her into the eye and say, “Children ALWAYS tell the truth so I must have said that.” Awkward as it was, it felt good to just own it and be honest. I may have a permanent wave next time I leave the salon, but at the end of the day, I told the truth.
2. Get down and dirty every now and then. Boys love mud, dirt and sand. They will find it at every turn on every corner in every major city. It doesn’t matter if there is an inch of a dirt-like substance, one of the three boys is in it and covered with it. So often as adults we fear dirt and it’s counterparts. Like the muddy situation with a co-worker or friend, the dirt the dog just tracked in or the sandy water that clouds our vision. Before wiping it clean, dabble in it for a bit. Get down and see the world at dog’s view. Approach the co-worker or friend about the situation at hand rather than avoiding it. You never just know, the dirty lens may have the focus you need to see into the future.
3. Play in a puddle and dance in the rain. I am always telling the boys to watch out for the puddles or get out of the rain. Why exactly do we parents tell our children this? Well, I understand if they have their Sunday best on then perhaps this would be a good idea, but why every other time do we find ourselves requesting these demands? One day I stepped in a puddle after being caught in the rain and was so frustrated. Adults find adversity so unbearable while children simply embrace it. It is not always about the circumstance but how we react to it that will make all the difference.
4. Stuffed animals do have a purpose. I used to go on a quarterly purge event. When my children were sound asleep having visions of Kung Fu Panda and Diego in their heads, I would grab a trash bag and discard their plush pets. Then one day I came home from visiting my grandmother at Hospice and while pulling into the driveway, I saw Simba perched in our maple tree. When I proceeded into the house, Elmo was hanging by his feet from our second floor balcony.
I no longer do a quarterly purge event because I have seen my children in “Make Believe Action” with their plush buddies. I have seen stuffed animals be aliens, cousins and teachers. They go on road trips and eat meals with us. They have been the influence of creativity in out home for almost a decade. And now that my grandmother has passed, I think of how these plush toys also knew broken English. That’s right, my little Nonna used them as props to entertain my boys and those memories do not deserve to be purged.
5. When you fall, get up, dust yourself off and get back at it. As a mother of three fearless boys I have had my share of watching horrific falls. Yet, what always ceases to amaze me is how quickly they wipe the tears and go right back at what they were doing. So, every time I fall and hit the bottom, I think of my boys and pick myself back up. Bruised I may be, but nevertheless, I am back on my feet.
6. Hugs heal what band-aids can’t. When the boys get bumps and bruises and ask for a band-aid a few minutes later, they are still upset that they are still hurting. Band-Aids do not heal wounds, they cover them up. How often do we cover up our true feelings to avoid exposure? How about just opening up and being vulnerable? When they proceed to hurt, I tear off the band-aid and hug them instead. Instantly, they feel better. Hugging someone is worth more than the band-aid we sometimes offer as a way to heal the wound.
7. Always say good night three times. We’ve all been there, that narrator alongside Samuel Jackson and just want to say to our little munchkins, go the bleep to sleep. But I often think of all the people, while they remain in my heart, are not hear physically that I wish I could kiss goodnight just one more time. I try to remain mindful when I am tired and just want the boys to go to sleep. When I am mindful, I get less frustrated and am so grateful I have the opportunity to kiss them goodnight for the second and third time.
8. Wake up before the sun rises. If you have young children you know all about this. Yet, because we are up bright and early we have observed some amazing things. We have seen storm clouds rolling in and out. A baby bird hatching from its egg,
sunrises and a double rainbow once. The sun and moon both canvassing the sky at the same time and even shooting stars. It is the one time of our day, that we can bond uninterrupted, for more than two minutes. Some of the most magical things happen pre-dawn.
9. All living things are beautiful in their own unique way. I love those summer nights when the boys chase fireflies or during the springtime when they are digging to find earthworms. During the winter, they follow the animal tracks in hopes of finding reindeer and bunnies.
They look for ants with magnifying glasses and chase geese in the park. They do not judge based on size, shape or living environment. Pretty amazing stuff if we could do the same.
10. Climb, climb and climb some more. My how boys love to climb. It seems as if they can never get high enough. I have witnessed them maneuver stools over pillows on top of chairs to get to what they are trying to reach. They just do not give up. As adults we begin to climb and get tired or discouraged and give up so easily. Stack those pillows, climb on that furniture and reach for that goal!
So, there you have it, the many things I have learned from my little boys. Perhaps they should be the ones with halos as they are my little angels. It may be a turbulent ride from time to time aboard Chaos 31, but the lessons learned are worth the journey.
“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.”
– Chuck Palahniuk