I am, in this exact moment, sitting in my living room. And, from my place on the couch, I can see five crayons that didn’t make their way back into the bag when the girls scooped them up before preschool.
Three out of five of these said crayons are broken. Only two are fully intact.
I am a person who likes order. Organization. The expected. I like when everything goes according to the way that it has been meticulously planned out in my brain.
These are qualities well-suited for the demands of parenting, obviously.
I like crayons to stay sharp and intact and color-coded inside their box.
The girls have other ideas though. Ideas which include dumping all 96 crayons out of said box and breaking at least three every time they open up their coloring books.
I used to make them put all 96 crayons back in the box each time they were done coloring.
The first thing I do with a brand new box of “poky” crayons (an adjective Lily coined recently which I immediately embraced) is to dump them into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and trust that at least half of them will be broken or worn down completely by the week’s end.
I let go of my unrealistic expectations.
It feels like a metaphor for the bigger picture of parenting, really. A reminder to hold on to the realistic and important and let the other things slip through my fingers.
I realized recently that my most frustrated moments of parenting usually coincide with the times when I have unrealistic expectations.
You are supposed to nap longer than one hour.
You are not supposed to have meltdowns anymore.
You shouldn’t be yelling at me because you chose to eat your entire dinner in 7 seconds.
(That last one contains no hyperbole. Sawyer is a boy wonder when it comes to food inhalation.)
We are all so much better off around here when I adopt more reasonable expectations.
Really, what this looks like is less of me trying to control the actions of my tiny people and more like me trying to control myself.
I can be thankful for the one hour of rest time I can count on each day.
I can expect the meltdowns and react more calmly because I know they’re coming.
I can bribe with Cheerios because everyone has limits, and I just want to eat my dinner in peace.
I have full control over the ways I choose to react and respond.
And because of this, it is realistic to expect to end each day knowing that there were more good moments than bad. To know that, despite the shortcomings from parents and kids alike, my kids know how deeply I love them.
But here’s the best part: What I’m finding is that when I let the unrealistic slip through my fingertips, I’m mostly just left with gratitude that this is the work that has been entrusted to me.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is a pile of crayons (half poky, half broken) in the middle of the floor and a Trolls coloring book calling my name.
Here’s hoping Mauvelous hasn’t been broken in half yet.