Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Sometimes Moms Have to Forget the To-Do List and Leave the Adult World Behind

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Sometimes Moms Have to Forget the To-Do List and Leave the Adult World Behind

Article excerpt

As I scraped leftovers off dinner plates, I held the portable phone against my cheek and arranged volunteers for my church's children's programs. It was 7 p.m. after a long day, but I was proud of my accomplishments. I loved the changed ambience of the kitchen as I transformed clutter and smudges to order. I love crossing calls off my list. Click, click, click; I was pleased that I was getting things done.

I didn't pay much attention when my sons wandered into the kitchen. After my fourth phone call, as I finished wiping the stove, I paused to glance at them.

Then my efficient adult reverie was shattered. The four-year-old was leaning back as far as possible in a kitchen chair, clearly mesmerized by the art of balance. The two-year-old had found a purple marker and almost finished coloring his arm. The six-year- old tapped a stick against the refrigerator, and sighed as he asked, "Mom, is this the last call? I want to play Stratego."

I immediately sprang into action, slamming the middle child's chair down while screaming, "Don't do that" and swiping the marker from the youngest's hand.

"You always yell at me," the four-year-old said as he burst into tears and ran from the room.

"I want my marker," howled the two-year-old.

My oldest child glared at me and whacked the refrigerator hard.

I was suddenly frazzled, tired, and frustrated. I desperately wanted to return to my adult world. I wanted the soothing sense of well-managed accomplishment.

My children care nothing for tasks accomplished. They live in the present moment, where life is experienced: The challenge of a chair almost balanced, the excitement of purple ink on pale skin, the engagement of a game.

I had a choice.

I could choose my world: "Go to your rooms until you can behave," "Let me get some paper and you can color," or "Why don't I put 'Toy Story' in the VCR? …

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