Today’s story comes from a mommy with a toddler and newborn in the house. Anyone that has been there before, knows it can be a rough go for all. What is remarkable about this story is how this mom decides to change her attitude, and change the day. Please enjoy! – C
Many years ago, when having a quote in your email signature line was still a thing, I used a quote that is attributed to Martha Washington: “I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” This quote struck a chord with me the moment I read it in high school. There are many reasons to get kinda bummed out in your teenage years, but for the most part, I felt our first First Lady was on to something there. We get to choose how long we are miserable.
A few days ago, I was making lunch for my awesome daughter. She’s been hanging in there with me as I navigate being a mom to two kids. Her sister is just two months old, and I haven’t been handling the change with as much grace as I’d like. I’ve been lamenting my loss of sleep, my fluffy waist that won’t fit into my clothes, and my distance from family who would love to help if they could.
I try not to feel guilty as a general rule in my life, but I was feeling the guilt this day. I had lost my patience with her over something silly, and I had obviously hurt her feelings. I have been doing that a lot lately – letting my frustrations over post-partum life come out in my interactions with my preschooler. So, as I was slapping some turkey slices on a plate for her lunch as fast as I could before the baby woke up, I thought about ways that I could show her how much I still loved her and that I was sorry. But what? What would make a three-year-old feel special? Maybe a new toy? A trip to the zoo later?
The problem was that everything I thought of required effort and energy that I just didn’t have that day. Babies suck the life out of you some days! I had no energy to pack us up and head to the zoo. Being real with myself, I knew I would not get us over to the store for her to pick out a new toy. And how long would yet another toy in our house make her happy, anyway? Was that really worth the money?
Then I saw the can of sprinkles left over from Easter cupcake decorating and remembered how much she had enjoyed them. I shook a few pieces out on top of her applesauce. I presented her with the plate, an offering of sorts, an apology for… not being super-human.
My three-year-old’s very human response to her lunch reminded me of that Martha Washington quote immediately. Because, you guys, she lit up! She thanked me even! A few pieces of star-shaped xanthan gum was enough for her to forget that I had treated her like that stuff in her sister’s diaper earlier. She didn’t let my attitude ruin her whole day. It was in that moment I realized that I had been making excuses for why I was a miserable cow, when really, I was making the choice to be unhappy.
I have “sprinkles” all around me – two healthy kids, two sweet (albeit smelly; when’s the last time they had a bath?) dogs, a supportive husband that had put away the clean laundry and dishes, that new rug I chose for the living room, fresh flowers in a vase, lots of yummy food, a gift card to Target, and a new episodes of New Girl on Netflix. Now, I keep that can of sprinkles out on the counter as a little reminder. With a baby around, I need to remind myself a few times that I get to choose each day.
And today, I choose to be cheerful and happy and oh-so-tired, all at the same time. Thanks, Martha. – Andrea
Andrea is mother to two kids, two dogs, a bird, and is a teacher. She is married to an Army guy, and they move around as quickly as the wind blows.