I’m stuck. It’s Sunday morning at 9:24. I’ve already fought my toddler for hours, discussing the major life questions such as, “Why do I have to pee in the potty?”, “Why do I have to eat ANYTHING at all when I want to live off of nutritional shakes and cookies?, “Who decided we need pants in public?” and “Why did we dress nicely and get to church on time on a day when there is only one service that is two hours from now?”
Yeah, Mom. Get it together.
So here I sit on my brown leather couch feeling as stuck in a sea of “what now?”. I’m surrounded by colorful toys and plastic gingerbread-like Christmas decorations from others. I really feel stuck in the ’34 turns in the Candy Land fudge swamp’ kind of stuck.
I’m the fudge swamp monster.
As I sit I watch my son play. This living room is a death trap… because a three year old boy can take basic toys and make the Home Alone house in 15 minutes.
My mother, God bless her, decided to give my son a "little roller coaster" for Christmas. You know, gifts that parents didn’t buy contribute to 46% of childhood injuries. The slide also has ridges for Hot Wheels and small train cars to go down. Slick socks, slick slide, trains at the bottom… You say risky parenting. I call it Physics 101.
Only a few minutes into folding a stack of clean clothes, I saw a blur of a red shirt and khakis fly down the slide, heard toy trains on the wood floors, heard the unmistakable crack of a head on the floor, and saw a splayed little body on the floor.
His little shocked face stared up at me for a reaction. I LEAPED off the couch. Now, my mind FULLY intended to be the affectionate mother who kisses and assesses concussions but my heart took over. I jumped up and then hit my knees in front of him, cheering as wildly as a painted, overweight Superbowl-team-fan watching a game-winning touchdown. I have NO idea why.
"GREAT WIPE OUT! WOW!" I yelled. I tackled and tickled him, cheering on his quick recovery. "You got back up!"
He smiled in disbelief. He stared back at the course he had taken and with a bit of trepidation, went right back to where he was. A little more carefully he climbed and then said, " I did it.”
As I returned to the couch I realized that is exactly where I am. This parenting “ride of my life” is perilous and too fast. I am a master at losing my balance and crashing to the floor.
Sometimes it isn’t about the ride. It’s about the wipe out and how we react.
My son is now trying to walk up the slide backwards while “beeping” like an 18 wheeler in reverse. Sometimes you have to back up the truck and replay the tape to realize what you went through.
So as I try to breathe, metaphorically sprawled on the floor with the wind knocked out of me, I am thankful for those who yell, “GREAT WIPE OUT!” We all need those people when we face the ringers of life.
Wipe outs are how we learn. If we never fail or fall, we won’t know how sweet victory or soaring feels.
Here is to a great wipe-out getting us all unstuck.