How does Parmesan chicken, roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli, and fresh baked bread sound? Pretty good, eh? As I planned the meal in my head last evening, I could almost hear Chad, Charlie and Chanelle’s exclamations as the aroma from the stove top met their noses. It would go something like, Mama’s chicken! Woo Hoo!! (We call it “Mama’s chicken” because it’s my grandma’s recipe.”)
That chicken? It’s their favorite meal.
This morning I stood in the kitchen with a screaming baby at my ankles, a kitchen floor that begged for my attention, errands to run, two loads of laundry cycling through the washer/dryer, a four year old that “needed” her nails repainted, a lunch date planned, and did I mention a screaming baby at my ankle? When I took in this scene I closed my eyes and sighed. . . I just can’t do it.
More and more lately this has happened. Moments when I feel like I am toeing the line between sanity and insanity. Moments when I feel so utterly exhausted that the thought of hearing the word Mama, one more time, might be my final breaking point. Moments when I feel like a person who has been swimming for the shore for two days and finally, exhausted, the paddling stops and another victim falls prey to the deep waters of the sea.
Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic again, but over the last few weeks I have completely grasped what those old commercials meant when they said, Calgon, take me away. (What is Calgon, anyway?)
Believe me, I have tried to talk my way out of it. Chin up, Summer, you can do this. It’s a phase, it’s going to get easier. Come on, buck up, be a big girl. I tried, I really did. I pull, pushed, and even tried to drag my weary butt away from the edge, but to no avail. I was stuck. Until one day while I was taking a trash bag out to the garage and had a thought. . .
My mom was a person, too.
Profound, I know. Strangely, in that moment I flashed back to my childhood and I thought about my Mom and me and I was struck with the realization that she, my Mom, was not just my Mom. . . she was a person.
Seriously profound, I know. But as I child. . . I really didn’t know.
And if we are going to care for them right. . .we must care for us.
You see, when I was a child I only saw my Mom as my Mom. I didn’t realize that she was a person with a story. That she likely had passions burning in her heart. That she needed friendships and relationships that were totally separate from us. As much as she poured into us, she needed poured into. I didn’t understand that my Mom and Dad weren’t just Mom and Dad but they were two people who loved each other and cared about each other and who madly in love with each other.
I was a kid. . . I couldn’t have gotten that.
As I’ve been trying to keep myself from drowning this week, I have realized that, as important as it is that I care for the needs of the precious little lives that have been entrusted to me. . . it is equally important that I care for me, too. Even typing that made my stomach hurt a bit. It sounds so selfish. So self-indulgent. I worry. . . who will label me a bad parent?
In that moment, I realized that if she and Charlie and Chanelle are going to have all of me. . . I have to be all of me. To be honest, I don’t know exactly what that means right now. What I do know, is that this week has found me stealing away with my journal more than I was before. I have picked up books that I previously couldn’t make time for. I’ve spoken more honestly and deliberately. I’ve slowed down my gait. I’ve given myself more grace.
And you know what? Suddenly, I’ve become more present for moments like these. . .
And these. . .
That feels pretty good.
Oh, and Mama’s chicken? Well, crock pot + chicken breast + 1 bottle of BBQ sauce = BBQ chicken sandwiches in 8 short hours. Maybe we’ll do Mama’s chicken next week or when Meadow’s three.