I’m always losing something. I put things here and stuff things there. But I didn’t used to be this way. A long time ago, in a land far, far away, I was proficient, efficient, and some would say, downright organized. Then I entered the land of motherhood—where children roam wild and free; juice boxes rule the day; and a tidy house is almost completely extinct. Time crashes into moments, moments get lost in hours, and in between time standing still—so does the laundry.
Despite my temporary memory lapses, I actually don’t mind losing most things. Like the matching pink shorts that my daughter swears she absoultely must have before she agrees to get dressed. I know they are probably piled in the deep abyss of laundry hidden in my bedroom. So, I tell her she must forgo her beloved pink shorts in exchange for a nice pair of blue ones. After much whining, whaling, and stomping, she concedes.
Sometimes I lose things that are a little harder to replace like phone numbers, my daughter’s school permission slip, or my favorite pair of Nikes. This category of loss is occasionally elevated to a “code red,” and panic takes hold. But in the end, my perseverance (staying up all night to find that darn permission slip) usually pays off. I’ve just come to accept these losses as a fact of my life in exchange for having three wonderfully adorable children.
But I must confess—lately, there is one thing that I am terrified of losing ... my mind!
There are days when I have begun to feel my sanity slowly slipping away as I send my toddler to time-out for the hundredth time. Or when the baby decides to throw food all over the kitchen, leaving a trail of ants in her wake. Or when my eldest demands pasta for dinner when I’ve already cooked chicken. You know, all the little things begin to add up.
To remedy my grave situation, I’ve begun to do daily “sanity checks” just to make sure my mind isn’t becoming mush. My professors always told me that my master’s degree in psychology would come in handy someday. I’ll just fix myself up; put a band-aid on my brain. So I’ve devised a sanity check in the morning to begin my day that keeps me one step ahead of my brain—for now:
- I check my pupils to make sure they’re not dilated from lack of sleep and that cheap chardonnay I drank last night. Check.
- I ask my daughter to count backward from ten with me. She obliges. I gleefully determine that I’m at least sane enough to count down for time-outs. Check.
- I ask my toddler to go to the potty and yell to me when she’s through. She does. I hear only her voice echo down the hall. I only hear one voice. Check.
- Finally, I ask my husband for his daily agenda. He tells me the usual schedule. No delusions of grandeur. Check.
Great, I’m sane for the day and ready to tackle whatever comes my way! And it’s a good thing, because by the time I’ve convinced myself I’m fine, my girls are already wreaking havoc on a defenseless box of cereal downstairs. I can hear the ping of Honey Nut Cheerios crash against the walls and fall to the wooden floor. I hear my eldest say, “You’re losing it! You’re losing it!”
“Oh my god,” I gasp. “It’s a sign!” All I can think as I round the corner to the kitchen is that even my own daughter has declared that “I’m losing it.” When I step into the room, I witness what can only be described as the “Land of the Cheerios.” They are everywhere—and so is the milk that was supposed to go with them. As I gasp in horror, I think, “Ya, this is the kind of stuff that can make any parent insane!” But as I walk closer to my girls, now sitting in a pile of tasty cereal on the floor, I notice that my two eldest are gently feeding the baby the Cheerios. My big girl directs the toddler, “If you give it to her like this,” she extends her arm gently, “then the baby can eat it and you won’t lose it when it drops.”
Cheerios. You’ve got to be kidding me! That’s all it took to put my entire life in perspective? Yes, actually it is. So now, when I have a difficult day or I lose something important, I realize that it’s not a permanent loss. My mind isn’t mush and my sanity is intact ... at least for now.