I hit a wall. I had hit some rough patches in the past few weeks, but April Fool’s day was the big one. My husband had to work that evening and I needed to shake things up to make it to bedtime.
We decided to take a “dinner cruise.” We drove around town picking up from each of my daughters’ favorite places and were going to head home to picnic. When we were at the last stop grabbing Chick-fil-A, the girls got into a typical sibling fight and started throwing things. It was the last straw. Instant rage mom moment. I grabbed all the bags of food that we had just driven all over town to pick up and handed them to a homeless man on College Drive.
We drove home in silence. They all got a cheese stick and a glass of water for dinner and were relegated to their rooms for the rest of the night. No electronics. Meanest. Mom. Ever.
I sat in my room and did exactly what you shouldn’t do when you’re feeling bad about your parenting. I got on social media. I saw all the luminaries families set up on their porches in honor of medical staff, the art projects, and chalked walks. I teared up about how our day was eight hours of shushing on conference calls with a record-breaking terrible end. So, I turned to my mom friends.
The responses were overwhelmingly similar. “Everyone alive? You’re good!” “Parenting is making tough decisions sometimes, even in tough times. They’ll be better for it.” “You think they’re plotting which nursing home they’re going to send you to?” Well, that last one was a little different.
One of my friends pointed out that what constitutes success right now largely depends on the particulars of the situation you’re in, maybe even on a daily basis. It made me think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a motivational theory that breaks down human needs into a pyramid where the needs of any level have to be fulfilled before moving up to the next. With minor adjustments to the pyramid, and a few self-reflection questions, this might be the gut-check many of us need at the end of these stay-at-home-working-home-schooling-just-surviving days.
Everyone is walking on unstable, unfamiliar ground right now. I know single working moms who are now trying to be everything to everyone and pray every day they don’t lose the one income in their household. I know dual working households who thankfully both still have jobs but are somehow working even more while each trying to take on the roles of chef, referee, housekeeper, and teacher. I know households who are struggling with job loss and trying to stay positive, while feverishly navigating government assistance and searching online job boards. I think Teddy Roosevelt said it best. “Do what you can with the tools you have where you are.”
If making a laminated, color-coded, hourly schedule is keeping you and your kids happy and sane, do it. If all you can do is ensure your kids have a meal, a roof, and a kiss goodnight, maybe those are the only boxes that need to be checked today.
Most of us are a little scared about where we are and don’t have the tools we’re used to. “Do what you can with the tools you have where you are.”