Many years ago I went to a math workshop with my friend Heather. One of the things we created was a three dimensional puzzle by gluing different numbers of wooden cubes together in a very particular way. When we were finished we had 6 or 7 separate pieces that if assembled just so would create a 3x3x3 cube.
Everyone started at the same time. Heather, spatial guru, completed hers quickly. One by one the rest of the class followed, except me, it was sort of embarrassing. “Moving on,” the instructor announced. I can’t remember what was covered after that because I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy trying to solve the cube puzzle. As a former student who struggled in math I was deflated but determined to get it right.
I have these moments while at home with Abigail. Moments were my mama mojo just disappears. Poof! All of a sudden I fumble and lose my confidence, just stuck. I see the pieces. I know they go together, but how?
I can be the mom on the go but things get hectic at home. I can keep everything together at home but then I worry that if we miss story time my little clam will never open up in a group. These expectations that I am setting for myself are too high, so when I don’t meet them I feel like I’ve failed. The puzzle sits on the table untouched because I can’t figure it out right away.
I don’t want to lower my expectations of who I want to be as a mother, but I need to set more realistic goals. Right now we are knee deep in potty training and rearranging nap schedules. With a new nap time that falls at the same time as story time we just can’t make it. It’s okay. Instead, we go to the playground or ride bikes or sit on the potty 40 times a day, well, Abigail sits on the potty. I just sleep with my eyes open. It’s okay.
When the mama mojo is gone it’s not always helpful to look around and see wonderful and fantastic and great plastered all over Facebook. It doesn’t help me to log onto Pinterest for just another organizing tip or homemade play-doh recipe that I won’t have time to make. I do get on though because it’s fun to be connected, to celebrate each other, to dream about what we might do given an extra hour or two every day. But it’s also okay to just be okay, to be in a process of figuring it out.
I need to be patient with myself. I need to view our little successes as just as important as our big ones. I need to remember that Abigail and I have a great time when it’s just the two of us and there will be years upon years of activities to open up her little clam shell.
I don’t think the mama mojo really disappears, it just gets bogged down. I know it’s time to reprioritize, slow down, and breathe.
I finally figured out that 3x3x3 puzzle, you know. I stopped caring that I was the only one still working on it. I did it in my own time and I was damn proud when I finished. It stayed on my teacher bookshelf for a long time. I worried that I’d forget how it went together. A student asked me what it was one day and I took it down and handed it to him. “Why don’t you see for yourself…” I said handing it to him. That puzzle got taken apart and put back together a lot that year, little hands finally wearing down the glue that held the blocks together. But that’s okay. There are always new puzzles worth taking the time to figure out.
**A few months ago tons of articles were circulating on social media sites about putting down the iPhone and being a more present parent. Thanks to this blog for the inspiration for our “iPhone fish.” We’re trying to fatten him up by feeding him daily and often.