The Best of Intentions
by Erynn Mangum
Every day, I wake up to my adorable alarm clock, also known as my 9-week-old baby girl, and I think, this is it. Today is the day!
Today will be the day I get things done. Today, my house will be cleaned, my email will be checked and responded to, my fridge will finally get the moldy bread cleaned out of it, my almost-two-year-old and five-year-old boys will be played with and I will change into a real shirt instead of a pajama top. Today, I will check things off my to-do list that mocks me on the fridge, I will sit and eat a real meal instead of grabbing a handful of trail mix and a lukewarm cup of coffee while nursing the baby. Today, I will be on top of things.
Today, I will get this mom of three thing down.
I get out of bed, and next thing I know, I’m wiping cute little tushies during diaper changes and cute little cheeks after blueberry oatmeal exploded in their faces. I get us all to the grocery store and try to wrestle the groceries into the bottom of the cart, since the baby and the toddler fill the basket, while piecing together the list that my toddler has been teething on. Back at home, I’m breaking up fights, tripping on bouncy balls, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches one handed while simultaneously nursing, burping the baby and soaking up spit up. I sing them to sleep for naps, take care of the bills that are three months past due and start a couple of loads of laundry that are taking over my bathroom. And then the kids are up, the house is loud, the dishes aren’t done and I haven’t even thought about dinner, and now it’s 6:30 PM and we’re all eating scrambled eggs again before I sing the boys to sleep and settle down to nurse the baby in the quiet, dark house.
And nothing has been done. Not one thing has been checked off my list.
I used to be so organized, see. I would wake up to a house that was pretty much clean and still clean it. I would get two thousand words written in my novel per day, and I would reply back to every email I received. I would go to the grocery store with an intact list in hand, put the groceries into the cart, come home and have dinner for the entire week planned and cooked each day, sometimes in advance.
It’s hard to not feel defeated in this season. Exhausted physically, drained emotionally. I have heard that this time of life is called the “trenches of parenthood” and that I am in a “season of survival.”
I’m tired of surviving.
I went to a women’s conference a few weeks back, and one of the biggest things I took away from it was something that was never spoken of during the conference but instead something that God kept quietly pressing on my heart.
The time has come to be intentional.
Not intentional how I used to be. I can’t make my lists and check every item off. I need to plan to spend my day in crazy mode and know that things just aren’t going to go the way they probably should. The baby will spit up all over me at the worst possible moment, my littlest boy will throw a tantrum in the worst place he could, and my oldest will always pick 7:28 PM when bedtime is 7:30 to ask the most complex theological question. My house likely won’t get vacuumed, and there is a great chance that I won’t remember to run the dishwasher again tonight.
But today, right now, I want to stop. Stop worrying that I’m not keeping up, stop running in circles trying to accomplish nothing. Today, I’m going to sit down with my baby and nurse her without making a to-do list on my phone at the same time. I’m going to smell her sweet little head and watch her soft little cheeks. Today, I’m going to get on the floor with my little boy and play Mickey Mouse clubhouse with him and tickle him until he can’t breathe. Today, I’m going to challenge my oldest boy to a lightsaber fight and tell him jokes that make him laugh.
Today, I’m going to be intentional about not getting things done.
Because, the thing about the season of survival is it’s just that. A season. Someday, I will wake up without my little alarm clock letting me know it’s time to eat. I’ll get out of bed and find myself in a fairly clean house that I have lots of time to clean even more. I’ll go to the grocery store with an empty cart and list in hand. I’ll come home and cook real dinners again. And I know I will desperately miss these crazy, smelly, exhausting days and wish them back.
Sometimes having the best intentions means not having any real intentions at all.
Erynn Mangum is the author of Katie in Waiting, the popular Lauren Holbrook series and the Maya Davis series, along with many other books and novellas. She lives in New Mexico with her husband and three goofy, adorable kids. Learn more at www.erynnmangum.com.
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