Yesterday morning I was in full working mom grouch mode.
I had just returned to the house from a very annoying breakfast “meeting,” and I was in a foul mood.
If you know me at all, you know this mood well.
Lips pursed. Eyebrows furrowed. Cursing with my eyes.
When I get like this the only things that can calm me down are sweat and music.
I chose Celtic Spirit radio on Pandora, and got down on my hands and knees and started scrubbing.
I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed some more.
Yet even with the tin whistle and hammered dulcimer trying their best to cheer me and whisk me away to the hills of Ireland….it wasn’t working.
I was just angry. And it wasn’t going away.
Then there was a knock at the door.
“Super,” I thought, “I’m drenched.”
But I went to the door anyway.
My favorite dude.
The FedEx guy.
I squealed with glee as he handed over two ginormous boxes, almost as tall as me.
I drug them into the house, unloaded them, and threw the empty boxes aside.
Zoë emerged from her bedroom and said, “Those boxes are big enough to hold a human being,” ….and then she promptly climbed into one of them, and closed the lid.
(I love when teenagers let their inner kid show through, even for just a moment.)
A few minutes later, Zion arrived home from an overnight at his grandma’s house. He walked in the front door, and immediately spied the giant empty boxes.
His eyes lit up.
Zion skipped over and climbed into one of the boxes and pulled it closed.
I waited a few minutes, popped the box open, and said, “BOO!”
He giggled so hard it made me giggle, too.
He immediately pulled the box closed again.
I popped the box open again and said, “Gotcha!”
Zion jumped as though he genuinely didn’t know I was going to do that again.
This went on for the better part of a half hour.
Soon Zion had every pillow and blanket within a mile radius stacked inside those two boxes.
Which gave me an idea.
We gathered the boxes, pillows, some chairs, a fitted sheet, and a broom, and made a giant living room fort.
Zion dove into the fort and wiggled around, giggling and squealing. He was so truly, blissfully happy.
And suddenly I realized…I wasn’t angry anymore.
Zion spent the entire day in that fort. He read books in there. He ate his meals in there. He watched his favorite movie in there.
Such a simple thing.
But it brought him so much joy. And it brought me out of my funk.
It’s so easy to be too busy.
Too busy to talk.
Too busy to play a while.
Too busy to just slow down and notice that life is besting you…and passing you right by.
Lately I have been way too much of this kind of busy.
And that’s not okay.
Fifty hour work weeks owning my days.
Deadlines, meetings, reports.
Aside from what I do to get a paycheck, preparing the house to put on the market and the deadline of wintery days approaching is stressing me out.
Remodeling the kitchen. Trying to keep the house clean.
Trying to find time to work my side business is a funny, funny joke anymore.
So who has time for kids and their shenanigans?
Um… I do.
I have time.
That’s all we have is time. If we are too busy as working parents, it is our responsibility to be mindful enough to slow down and make the best use of that time. And sometimes that just means being childlike for a while and taking a break from the tasks of life.
Kids are messy. And inconvenient, at times. And loud and hungry and needy. And while there are days I would love for Calgon to take me away, (aging myself there) they are my kids and I love them and they need me to pay attention to them.
Even when I’m tired. And grumpy. And really don’t wanna.
One beautiful thing Zion has taught me is that sometimes I just need to slow down.
Find joy in the little things.
Perhaps it’s the autism. Or perhaps that’s just the way Zion is.
Either way, he helps me find calm in the storm.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in our meetings and our stress and our remodeling and our grown up lives…and forget that maybe we just need to slow down a minute and play.
Build a fort. Go to the park. Play a game of frisbee or tag.
Sometimes kids can seem like a distraction from the most important work.
They are the most important work.