A Magpie recently introduced me to the lovely blogger and mother-to-be Ashley Kane and I have so enjoyed getting lost on her site over the past week. In one of her recent posts, she reflects on a quote from a parenting book called Momma Zen, in which the author writes:
“But just for the record, there are many things you can do besides finish the dishes. Here are two: first, take a breath; second, tell yourself, I can change.
You can change in an instant. You can change your mind. You can change your timing. You can change your approach. You can change your words. You can laugh instead of scream. You can hop on one foot. You can step away from the fray instead of stepping in. You can give up, give in, and go in a completely different direction than you’d like to. You can do the dishes later.
You are change. You have infinite power to relax, to release, to change, and thus to change everything.”
I had to take a minute to gather myself. You are change. I immediately culled about thirty-seven distinct memories in which I found myself constrained or compelled to do something because it was expected of me. One the one hand, in a macro sense, that is adulthood, in a nutshell. And certainly parenthood. Meeting deadlines, making and showing up for appointments, submitting papers, taking temperatures, ordering groceries my children will likely not eat, remaining calm and measured in the face of mounting frustration and noise, suppressing the untoward question, avoiding certain words and expressions in conversations within earshot of our children, negotiating or not negotiating for myself and my business (as the circumstances dictate), making sure the laundry is folded and the dishes are put away, going high when I sometimes feel like going low. These are the table stakes of straining to live a mature, organized, respectable life, especially with little ears around. And I responded — in a profound, specific way — to the particulars of the scene the author conjures above, where a mother is determined to finish a household chore because it must get done while her daughter tantrums on the floor. Whew. Been there, done that. How often do I tell my four-year-old: “Give me a minute –” or “not yet, I need to finish doing x“? I am putting away the dishes and she’s shimmying with excitement over the prospect of sharing her discovery that there is only one calendar square left before her birthday. “Mama, come see — come see!” she chants. “Now? Now? Now?” And how on earth to reconcile these demands of me? Because things must get done, and I feel my children must learn that they are a part of a household — both in the sense that they are not the center of the universe and that I want the labor that goes into making our world run smoothly to be visible. And yet, and yet! These years are short and I could do worse than let in a little slack during the morning rush to chase my daughter and her imagination, leaving the dishes for later.
As usual, I land somewhere in the middle. The chores must get done, and my children must respect that, but it’s OK to let them slide every now and then, too.
More generally, though, and more to the author’s point: what a powerful call to permit ourselves to reimagine ourselves as mothers. Maybe we have pigeon-holed ourselves as “not the Pinterest mom type” or “not the type to co-sleep” or “not the type to let my kids out of the house in pajamas with bedhead” or “not the type to pray at bedtime” or whatever it is. Or maybe we have felt awkward or shy about some of the learned language friends have used with their children — “you are not bad, you just made a bad choice,” etc — but are secretly interested in trotting it out ourselves. Or maybe we are stuck in a particular parenting strategy, or determined to make family dinner work even though everyone is white-knuckling their way through it given competing work schedules, different food preferences, etc. Or or or or. The point is that it is never too late to start something new, to change your mind, to aim in a new direction.
I think I’ll be lingering over this notion for a long time to come, especially in moments where I feel constrained to do something. Why do I feel this way? Says who? I will ask. I am change.
+Oh yes, this linen maxi skirt. Would make me feel so sophisticated with a simple white tank and some great tortoise shell shades.
+Speaking of great shades, I shared a roundup of my favorite sunglasses styles for 2021 (most under $150), and I have to add another possibility: these high-end looking sunnies for well under $100.
+Adorable pink suede ballet flats. Love the dusty shade and the roped bow!
+Sun House just launched a really cute set of swimsuits for littles – I couldn’t resist this one for mini!
+These white jeans turned my head. Such a fresh shape.
+Most ridiculous (?) thing I have ever shared, but how amazing are these Gucci toddler sandals?