failing the back-to-school parenting test

Last Wednesday I failed the back-to-school parenting test. We were only a handful of days into the academic year, and there I was. Failing.

The morning started out just fine, right up until our daughter woke up. Moments before, I had been distracted by the list of things that had to be done before the kids left for school. The list wasn’t any different from last year, or the year before, or the year before that. But at the start of every year the list always feels longer, because after a summer off, I am out of practice.

And Wednesday morning my mind was on the list when Eleanor suddenly stopped. And everything she needed to get done, she couldn’t do. Get out of bed? Get dressed? Come down the stairs? She. Could. Not. Do.

We were barely ten minutes into the morning and there I was thinking: how am I going to survive the next 80 minutes, never mind the next nearly 180 days? And it pretty much went down hill from there.

I kept trying to solve the problems. Nothing was working. Because those issues? They were not the real problems.

The real problem?

It was me.

I was so distracted by all that needed to get done that I was seeing her as a line item instead of a little girl. And so she tried to get my attention in all the ways a 10 year-old can. Make her own breakfast? Find her sweatshirt? Brush out tangled hair? She. Could. Not. Do.

All I could do was think: We. Don’t. Have. Time. For. This. Actually, the mantra sounded more like a silent scream: WEDONTHAVETIMEFORTHIS! And what I said was: go, Go, GO!

But if I’d stopped? And seen her? Not as a thing, but as a girl? The going would have gone faster. She would have been part of me, instead of an item, stubbornly refusing to be crossed off my list.

So last Thursday morning, I made a change. I walked into Eleanor’s room, and stopped. And saw her. And moved her from my list back into my heart. Right where she should be. Then we were ready to go. And the morning parenting test? I may not be acing it, but I’m at least passing it.

How are your mornings? What is on your to-do list and who is on your to-be-with list? We each have a story, I’d love to hear yours. Keep me posted.


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