Life in a Pinball Machine
I am standing in the kitchen getting breakfast ready for my family…
Palmer (6) is banging on the counter with an action figure while he asks for a drink. Landon (2) is playing on the floor at my feet with his new and very noisy digger, saying “Play, mommy!” Keaton (9) is downstairs hollering at me to come down and build his new Lego set with him.
Our houseguest, Mike, is wondering aloud if I am REALLY not cooking a full, hot breakfast for him this morning. My husband is sitting on the couch reading an interesting new book and wanting to share tidbits of it with me.
On the outside, I look calm and composed, but inside, I am thinking (quite loudly) “HELLO, has anyone noticed that there is only ONE of me in this house right now? Are there only five of you who want my attention and help right now? Only five?” Well, come to think of it, the two birds need their medicine, and the fish needs food…if it’s not already too late.
So there, that totals eight male beings who want and need me at this very moment. I feel like I live in a pinball machine and I am the ball!
These are the times when I can either blow up and go off on all of my loved ones at once, or I can stop and figure out when and how I can get some time for my own sanity preservation. There is no point in being angry at my children for having so many needs, because that is the nature of children. I can long for someone else to insist that I take time to relax and take care of myself, and that would be ever so lovely. But ultimately, I am the only one who knows what I need, and it is my responsibility to make that happen.
So I tell myself to hang in there and do what I can. Then I plan ways to “re-fuel” during the day. In the van on the way to church, I’ll leave the phone turned off and listen to soothing music. I’ll sit and watch a movie with my boys this afternoon. I’ll let the house be messy until my cup is re-filled. I’ll try to go to bed early enough to read before I fall asleep.
Whatever it takes, I, and all the moms and dads out there, have got to find ways to keep our cups full. Kids, and life in general, require so much of us, and if we let ourselves get drained, we are depleted and have nothing left to give. It is not selfish to take care of ourselves; rather, it is a gift to give our children parents who are available and can cherish their innocence and beauty.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2012 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents
As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.