Don’t Believe Everything You Think
Today I woke up determined to give my fur babies some quality time and love.
So, after lunch I headed to the park with 2 dogs and a baby in tow. I was feeling good. I spent a good chunk of the morning playing with Atlas on the floor. I spent his entire nap cleaning our home. I had already taken the dogs for their morning walk, but I thought the park would be the icing on the cake for both Atlas and the dogs. I could just feel it – that proverbial ‘mom of the year’ award was going to be mine after today. I had it in the bag.
All was going well. The sun was shining. A nice breeze made it feel like the perfect autumn day. Nobody was in the park, so Ob & Marley had the entire run of the place. Atlas was laughing out loud as he ran through the grass, which was a huge victory because Atlas currently doesn’t like me to set him down. And when I say he “doesn’t like me to set him down” I mean when I tried to pee earlier today and I set him on the bathroom floor (there are just some things I cannot do while holding a 25 pound weight) he threw his head back and screamed so loudly I was sure our neighbors were going to come over to ensure CPS didn’t need to be contacted. Lord help me.
Anyways, all was going well…
And then I noticed Marley sniffing something from across the park and before I could even register what was happening, he was rolling like a maniac in the grass. If you have dogs, you know this is never a good sign. Ever. I took off in a mad sprint yelling at him to stop, but it was too late. He was covered in this atrocious brown funk from a dead animal. The whole right side of his body was visibly covered in something that is far too horrific to share in detail here.
I immediately leashed Marley up and got him away from the deceased rodent before turning around to pick up Atlas, who at that very moment decided he was actually content not being held 24/7. That apparently wasn’t a decision he could have made while I was trying to pee this morning. Atlas was throwing his head back in protest, stiffening his body so I could not pick him up and screaming at the top of his lungs. After wrangling Atlas back into the baby carrier, I turn around to call Ob so I could leash her up because clearly this party was over. And then I saw my precious Ob. My sweet, obedient Ob. My golden child. Gun-to-my-head-if-I-have-to-pick-a-favorite-its-her-Ob. She’s rubbing her body in a cat-like manner against Marley’s body in an effort to get some of that funk off him and onto her.
I started shouting, “Oh my gosh! Seriously? Come ON you guys! I can’t take you guys anywhere! Is this what I get for trying to treat you all to a fun afternoon play date? Because I could be home right now getting stuff done. That’s it! I’m never doing anything fun for you guys again. Do you hear me? Marley and Ob, you will never frequent a place where squirrels live again.”
And then we began our march back to the car where I continued my rant. I was telling them that even though I didn’t have the logistics worked out, I was sending them all back to where they came from. I was going home to update my resume because any job must be better than the one I was currently tasked with. At the very least, any other job would surely smell better.
Since I spent Atlas’ nap cleaning our house, I wasn’t allowing Marley & Ob to waltz through our door until they had been properly cleaned and sanitized. After making some phone calls in the parking lot of the park, we were in route to a local groomers.
Fast forward to the car ride home from the groomers. Atlas has finally cried himself to sleep in his carseat and in the quiet moments that follow, the thoughts start flooding my head.
“I suck at this stay at home mom gig.”
“No, I don’t suck. This job just sucks. Sucks. Sucks. Sucks. No, actually it is me. I suck. I yelled at a dog for being a dog and I yelled at a baby for being a baby.”
“Dave would probably love me more if I went back to work. He must know how bad I suck at this. And now I’m costing us $150 in an impromptu grooming bill because I can’t bathe 2 dogs and hold a baby that has been clinging to me since he woke up this morning. I bet Dave wishes I was still at work.”
“Atlas would probably love a nanny more. I could hire a real life Mary Poppins and she would play with him all day long and teach him a different language and read him nursery rhymes and he would be more well rounded as a result. And Mary Poppins would never raise her voice. Ugh. She’s practically perfect. Of course Atlas would love her more. Atlas would not have these clingy issues & temper tantrums with Mary Poppins. She would have a degree in child psychology and she would know exactly how to nip this crap in the butt.”
“I’m failing at life. Failing miserably. This should be an easy job. Why can’t I do this job? What is wrong with me? Maybe everyone in our family would be better off if I just went back to work and hired professionals to do all this stuff because I am screwing it all up.”
By the time I got back home, I felt totally and completely defeated.
Now, as embarrassing as it is to share those thoughts, I felt compelled to share all that with you because I imagine I’m not the first mom (or human) to have thoughts like that. Maybe I’m the first mom to give so much thought to Mary Poppins, but surely the general idea can be shared.
The first thing I would like to highlight is that Dave wasn’t the least bit upset about the impromptu grooming bill. He responded with, “I understand. That’s just part of our life. You got to do what you got to do. I’m sorry your afternoon ended up being so stressful.” Yes, he’s a gem.
The point of this incredibly long story is this: Don’t believe everything you think.
I read a book recently called Crash the Chatterbox and the entire book addressed thoughts like the ones I mentioned above. I highly recommend the book. The premise of the book in a nutshell is that the direction of our lives is primarily determined by the voices we respond to. While some of those voices are external, the book points out that most of the voices we struggle with are internal. This isn’t to say we are all crazy, but rather we are our own worst critics. We beat ourselves up. The book goes on to talk about how there is a real enemy in this world and he is after our minds because when our thoughts turn negative, our lives follow suit. However, when you understand what the enemy is after you can make a plan for protecting it.
After taking some deep breaths I determined that I was bullying myself. Nobody else was telling me I suck at this whole motherhood thing. In fact, Dave walked in the door tonight and said, “The house smells great!” He also went on to tell me that the dinner I made tonight was one of his favorite meals. Atlas woke up from his nap happy as could be, the incident at the park totally forgotten. Marley got several treats at the groomers so he returned home with a smile. Ob will forgive me in another day or 2 after she’s had time to cool down (she really hates the groomers). Nobody was hating on me but me. And my thoughts were fueling my attitude. And I control my thoughts. So I had to stop, reevaluate the situation and my response and make some changes. Should I have lost my temper at the park? No. Did I owe Atlas and the dogs an apology? Yes. Does that make me the worst mom ever? Absolutely not. I’m not a perfect mom and being a stay at home mom is not what I expected it to be like. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing the job God has called me to do.
I can’t let what I expected fail to keep me from God wants me to experience. I expected motherhood to include a lot more baking and a lot less crying. I thought I would be baking cookies for all the neighbors and planning play dates, but a more accurate picture of my reality would be me spending most of the day picking tupperware up from the floor (Atlas loves to spread it all throughout the house), shepherding a child’s heart and eating cookie dough at night before bed because I’m too exhausted to wait the 8 minutes for them to bake. But I think God wants me to experience all the chaos and tantrums because it is in those things that I find myself totally dependent on Him and that’s when He can do His best work in my heart.
Friend, maybe life isn’t turning out quite like you expected. Trust that God has something to teach you through the experience. Open yourself up to life’s lessons and opportunities to grow and change. And think happy thoughts. Straight up Peter Pan style.
And on that cheesy note, I’m off to enjoy some cookie dough before bed.