I still hate bathtime. And yes, my boys still take baths. With three of them, it’s easier to throw them all into the soapy water together and have them scrub up than to manage three separate showers. I know this will come eventually, but we’re not there yet.
You’d think that following a busy day of school, sports, and homework, they’d be so tired that they’d be in and out with jammies on and ready for bed in no time. Not so much. As soothing as bathing may be for adults, the effect on my boys is that of instant revival. Something about them getting into the bath revs them up when I think it will calm them down. The best laid plans…
A recent bath-time episode was extra colorful. While they were in the bath, Grace beaconed me from downstairs needing help with her homework. I was down there for a matter of minutes, their giggling and laughter from the bath audible from downstairs. They were clearly enjoying their time. Returning upstairs, I walked into this…
Reading my face and anticipating my reaction, one of them shouted “Mom, don’t be mad!!! We were working as a team!”
In that moment, before scolding or huffing or puffing, I stopped myself. Apparently, I use this phrase often, telling our boys that they are always stronger as a team, and to work together. It’s usually as a reminder when they are disagreeing or fighting about something. This isn’t really the scene that comes to mind for me when I think “teamwork” but in that moment, my boys deftly parroted my words of encouragement and diffused my instinctual frustration with a smile and a laugh.
Well played, boys. Well played. A good friend and parenting mentor told me once that when it comes to parenting, if it’s not something that’s going to matter in five years, it’s not something worth making a big deal. In hindsight, this was probably one of the more memorable bath-time experiences with my boys, and a perfectly illustration of the playful, if not slightly mischievous, way they approach the world. What I’m realizing now though is what makes this moment stand out as a fond memory was my ability to acknowledge my frustration and let it pass instantaneously instead of holding on to it and feeding the negativity.
So many moments in life have the potential to be either life-giving or depleting. The circumstances and facts are not any different, the moment is exactly as it is presented in both instances. But the ability for a moment to either deplete or give life rests squarely on the lens we choose to filter it through, and which emotions we choose to feed with our energy. Reminding myself to embrace the silly and the carefree isn’t easy, and I’m still very much a work in progress. I’m grateful I’ve got my kids on my team to help model what it looks like to approach the world with the joy and mischief of a child.