This morning started out as one of those days. You know the kind. I spent my first few waking moments with the strap of my tank top askew–one strap on, one strap off–having been accosted by children who needed snuggles right now and didn’t care that I was in the middle of changing out of my pajamas. My morning glory was in full force as I juggled kids on my lap, wiping tears and stroking backs and assuring them they would all get their turn eventually.
To the table we stumbled and I managed about three sips of coffee as the kids stared at their plates and all but refused to eat. Addie complained her toast was too dry, so we added strawberry jam. Mia said she changed her mind and forgot to tell us she doesn’t really like toast (and left it untouched). Full tummies or not, we somehow managed to get out the door on time, but as we did so, Mia started crying saying she was finally hungry. I reminded her about her toast and she protested again against it. I wrapped it in a paper towel and set it on her lap in the car anyway, telling her she could eat it if she was hungry enough. She just glared at me and sipped her orange juice.
As we drove, I finally started in on the rest of my now-lukewarm coffee, which leaked water onto my lap as I went. (What?!) Without a towel to wipe it up, I did the next best thing I could think of: wrapped a diaper around the cup and went ahead and drank the rest of that darn coffee anyway. I held it up to show the kids what a weirdo I am, thanked Emery for letting me use one of his diapers, and everyone giggled their little hearts out. It lightened the mood for us all, and we clicked on some of our favorite going-to-school music and I sang my heart out between sips. Down the road just a bit Addie saw a lady jogging backward while walking a dog on a leash and had another good giggle as we declared today must be Wacky Wednesday, just like that goofy book the Goobies love so much. Not long after that, I saw a bird hitching a ride on top of a car that was already in motion. And by the time she climbed back out of the car, Mia had eaten her toast all up. (A wacky Wednesday indeed.)
Admittedly, we did not start the day off on a great foot, but as we lived through the crazy today I realized how much choosing joy in the middle of it helps us all hit the reset button. I also breathed a prayer of thanksgiving for the people who are smarter, wiser and more creative than I am that help me actually do that because let’s be honest: it’s not easy. But nevertheless, lately a few things have helped.
This first one is hit or miss: The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers, meaning sometimes we do it and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we forget and other times the kids remind us. When we all gather around the table and listen to you read the short excerpt for the day really does help start our day off right; it’s like breakfast for our souls. When we skip it, we have a hard time finding our footing and we stumble through. But when we do make the effort, we are all energized and focused on the reason we live each day anyway. The short stories and Bible verses are easy to remember and apply throughout the day. Something as easy as “God made all things” could have been applied today as we drove to school by saying, “God even made the wacky stuff. Isn’t He creative? He must have a sense of humor.”
Also, we love to listen to JJ Heller anyway, but “Big World, Baby” and “I Know You Will” (from her I Dream of You album) both help focus my prayers for them as I send them out the car door. After we have said our goodbyes, I usually finish one or both of these songs and end up in tears over how much potential I see in these little faces and how I pray I don’t squelch a drop of it with my own bad mood.
Perhaps the most important one for this season, I think, is a song from Rend Collective: Joy. It is the song I turn to when Addie whispers “I’m a little nervous, Mommy” as approach the morning drop off line to help her say no to the part of her that wants to sulk in the shadows and instead be confident in who she is because of Who she belongs to. It is the song I play when I feel bogged down by grumpiness to remind me I have the power to break out of that mood. It is the song that reminds me that joy is a choice and it does not depend on whether I feel happy or at ease. The song reminds me to see the beauty and goodness that dances around me every day, and to delight in it even when my circumstances are tough.
What I love lately is simply this: choosing joy. I got up on the wrong side of the bed today and I brought my bad attitude with me into the first moments of my day. Somehow I set aside my grumpiness and chose joy instead. Today started off wacky indeed, but there was so much beauty and wonder in it I would have missed had I not chosen to be joyful in the midst of it all.