Remember the ‘Little Engine That Could?” During the difficult climb up the mountain, the engine strengthened his resolve by repeating the mantra, “I think I can! I think I can!” The engine had the capacity to make it, but believing it was crucial to success.
At 6 am I was sweeping up Cheerio shrapnel and feeling the physical weariness that several days with three hours of sleep brings. Just then my ‘shoulder friends’ showed up. I don’t have a devil that pops up on my shoulder—I have a perfectly dressed and coiffed perfectionist who appears to scold me. (When she isn’t on my back she lives in Pintrest. Be advised.) She immediately started in. The floors needed mopping again- 2 days is too long! Why didn’t I buy Operation for Firstborn? After all, he needs early practice if he’s going to be a brain surgeon! Why is he not already potty trained? He’s almost two after all! Secondborn is 4 weeks old and keeps his eyes open 1/4 of the day- why am I not doing baby signs to him constantly? Why am I still in sweats? The house needs tidying- it’s inspection day and the deep cleaning from yesterday hardly shows! I was up at 3am to console a baby and couldn’t simultaneously do a quiet time and color coded study of the Pentateuch?
To fend off my pearl-wearing vacuumer, I closed my eyes and thought, “I think I can! I think I can!”Just then I was joined by a tiny cheerleader on the opposite shoulder. Prompted by the perfect cheer from my spunky Spartan, I revised my mantra from “I think I can” to “I KNOW I can.”
There is a big difference between thinking and knowing. Thinking allows for doubt. Knowing leads to a passionate, ardent belief and a will that is hard to break. When exhaustion, a lack of sleep and unrealistic expectations join forces against me, I am easier to break than a green crayon. It’s only Wednesday; I cannot have a crayon day. It’s a Sharpie day! Sharpies of various colors…with post its! Yes, it will be a good day indeed!
I don’t want to be a Little Engine That Could today; I want to be a Bullet Train that runs on time. When a train gathers momentum, it is hard to slow it down, let alone stop it. When a train is on track and up to speed, it can get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time. There is no stopping to take detours or worry about anything other than what lies ahead- trains are on track.
Staying on track is hard to fathom during the stage of early motherhood. A track may be laid out for the day, but soon I am just putting out fires. (With both boys making messes 23 hours of the day, a spare firehose might come in handy!)
Yesterday during an appointment, I was thrilled that Firstborn was only merely whiny and wanting to crawl into my lap when Secondborn was chugging a bottle. There was a mountain of crayons sitting inches from white walls and I was blocked from them by a double stroller—it could have been a disaster worthy of calling FEMA. As I struggled to roll the stroller into the bathroom for two diaper changes and an attitude adjustment, the specialist (a fellow young mother with two girls under age 5) smiled and spoke words of encouragement. It was as if she had come to a train platform to smile and wave as I made my first stop of the day.
As I look out into a day full of unknowns, I am positive that it will have challenging moments. Encouragement is essential. With that, I leave you with an inspiring history lesson from my museum days:
During WW2 a little train station in North Platte, Nebraska gained an inspiring reputation. As soldiers would ride trains to head overseas, they would be greeted at this station at the “North Platte Canteen” by a slew of women bearing homemade foods. Even with rationing and tight budgets, there was hot coffee, cakes, and all manner of smiles and encouragement for young soldiers who were facing the unknown head-on. The Canteen became a beacon of hope and encouragement for a generation of young men somewhere between “I think I can” and “I know I can”. It’s a very inspiring true story; check out this quick video- it’s a stop well worth it.
Well, the VeggieTales video is almost over, so it’s time to get back to the track, Jack. I just thought about how to end this blog, and the picture of the original Superman movie racing a train popped into my mind. With Firstborn often dressed as a superhero running around me, it fits.
I am sure to run off the rails at least once today, but I know we’ll get through it intact. I’m the mom. I know I can. I know I can. So can you.