I’m running on empty right now. The end of school is 29 days away and collides with an insanity they call baseball season. Baseball moms act as agent, manager, chauffeur, cook, and housekeeper. Somebody forgot to tell these coaches that this is little league and not The Show. There’s ball and field trips, teacher appreciation days, programs, awards, track and field day, ISTEPs, permission slips, more checks to write, dinners served on the run and an exclamation point as reliable as a cuckoo clock chirping
what did you,
forget to do.”
I’ve been given the gift of three children that span 8 years. It’s gift, because I didn’t pick it out myself. And because my little guy is a 24 hr reminder of just how fast the years from four to twelve fly by. Sometimes the gift feels heavy, like the huge present under the tree that you know is the golden present of Christmas simply because of how gigantic it is.
The weight comes from constantly juggling different types of needs. The oldest needs a ride to and from top priority practices and events, you probably know that they are all top priority. The youngest needs uninterrupted time as he pretends to drive a brown box truck and make deliveries, dig up worms, and put sand in his ears. The girl in the middle, she needs candy, and hugs and friends to help her use her word quota.
This week I gave some thought to whether anything can be eliminated from our schedule. After a 360 degree tour of my ‘daily’, it seems that the only category that can be minimized is my expectations, the shoulds in my life. I’m a competitive person and I have a comprehensive list of expectations for myself.
There was a collection of years when I scraped by with the barest minimum of household proficiency. I struggled through endless minutes of the day only to endure endless hours of sleepless nights. I would get up, dig deep to clear the counter so the kids could eat breakfast and anything beyond that was a bonus. I was lonely, depressed and more than overwhelmed.
These days, I’m almost beginning to consider that the glass might be one-third full. If you would have known me then, you’d realize I have become Pollyanna! My counter is relatively cleaned off before bed, my filing is only months behind as opposed to years, and I can find the black thread and a needle if necessary. My days have more structure, my children have fairly regular meals, and I can see my closet floor about once a month. And I have some friendships that are sporting some pretty blooms.
While I’m proud of the growth that I see, I have an ideal that I can’t measure up to. It’s the ‘best of’ standard. The best of my friend with an immaculate vehicle or the one who serves more whole foods in a day than I do in a week. There are several who fit in regular work-outs and others never seem to be screeching into the parking lot on two wheels. I count it a whopping success that most of the permission slips make it to the school and that I currently have a library fine under $50. That my sheets got changed last week and the kitchen floor only has two layers of grime.
I have expectations that the growth I’ve experienced in the last ten years should continue exponentially. There’s an eternal list of Shoulds that keep me from the Coulds. I Should clean my kitchen floor, but I Could play outside with the kids. I Should fold that laundry, but I could take a walk. I Should organize my pictures from the last 10 years, but I Could play a game of Rummikub. The list of Shoulds put a ceiling on my life. They box me right in. Coulds are more like a rocket ship. The ceiling slides open, the engines fire and the count-down begins to an adventure where the sky really is the limit.
Shoulds are important, they add structure and routine and reliability to life, but when Should crowds out the possibility of Could, it’s time to stop, close our eyes, breathe and consider what Coulds are tucked into the day.
Should has weight , Could has wings.
I’m finishing this post two days later than I planned. The Shoulds took over my writing. There’s so much that I don’t know. Things that I’ve told myself I Should know. As I read Emily P. Freeman on fear and vulnerability this morning, the Could spoke a little louder in my soul than the Should. I shaved some Should out of my day to build some strength in the wings of my Could. I feel a little lighter, like pink cotton candy. It feels like hope.