I was single parenting this week.
I have a fair amount of experience in this, generally it goes well. Our hardest moments revolve around leaving the house. This makes having to be ready and in the car at a bit after 8 on Monday for school a bit of a circus.
This Monday was no different. I had made the girls cinnamon toast, completely forgetting that Addilyn doesn't love it. She politely asked for plain toast and I told her that was fine. By the time breakfast 2.0 was ready for her, she was dressed and ready to walk out the door. Fast forward about 5 minutes and 1 piece of jelly toast later...
I am not sure how a 5 year old girl even manages to make as big of mess as she did with 1 piece of toast. Apparently, some of the jelly slid off her toast and instead of licking her fingers or grabbing napkin, she proceeded to wipe her hands on her khakis...and her new shirt...and face...and even in her hair. It was 1 piece of toast. It required a full wardrobe change and sponge bath.
I have to admit I wasn't very kind. I try to be patient with this kind of thing because it is very Addilyn. The child is a bit of a walking tornado. Clothing gets passed from Eliana to Addie with nary a stain, but somehow during its life in Addilyn's closet a good percentage becomes unwearable for Annabelle. She is most likely to stick her elbow in ketchup, knock over her milk, step on the cat and fall out of her chair. She is also my best problem solver and hardest worker when she chooses to be. She has a sweet, laid back, go along to get along type personality and the ability to trash a pair of shoes like no bodies business.
I should have known better. I set the kid up for failure and then jumped on her case when it didn't work out well. She felt shamed and in trouble, she didn't get to wear her new kitten shirt and she was running late. What a lousy way to start a school day.
I struggle with so many versions of this; expectations vs. reality. I know my kids well enough to know what I can ask and they can do and when it is above there ability to execute. I know this about other things too, like I should expect to wait at the DMV, that my glasses will cost more than I want to spend and that I will never get everything on my to-do list done in one day. And yet, when I find myself waiting for over an hour, dropping a couple hundred bucks on the ability to see and a days end with my laundry still unfolded, I get irritated.
How old to have to be before I start accepting things as the ARE instead of how I wish they were? How long will it take me before I figure out that it is not the world, or my kids, or anythings elses job to make sure I am happy? As long as I have my list of how things SHOULD be, I won't be able to see the joy in how things are.
In yoga the other day, the instructor was talking about the Sanskrit words that mean "that, I am". It all comes back to grace and the ability to accept people for who they are, including ourselves. Addilyn is a work in progress, even if she never develops the ability to eat a meal without wearing it, that is ok. I can give her the grace to be her. I can take today as it is, myself included, knowing that in love is patience in all things. I know that if I live in grace and love, I can be kind. I can choose joy over expectation. And maybe on day, the line at the DMV won't be long and my kids will be on time for school.