broccoli, hot dogs, and the art of mothering

Sometimes, it’s all about perception, about looking at things a new way.

Take feeding children, for example.  The first time I plunked steamed broccoli on my kids’ plates (see my post on cooking to understand why this happened within their memory), they stared at it with extreme suspicion.  My husband remarked, “Oh, Mommy is giving us broccoli trees!”  Suddenly the suspicion was gone, and my children turned into tree-eating machines.

Fast forward a year.  The broccoli is losing its magic.  Enter Daddy the Amazing: “Has anyone seen a woodchipper truck around?  I have some wood that needs chipping.”  Daddy makes a woodchipper sound effect while mowing down a bite of broccoli, and suddenly our veggie du jour is thrilling again.

hot dog carEven hot dogs, our protein of desperation, occasionally need a fresh face to add appeal.  Slice your hot dog a few times and the ends become hairy-headed little passengers riding on a teeny hot dog car with wheels balanced against the sides.  Or slide your knife midway up your hotdog to slice some long, thin tentacles for your hotdog squid.  Reluctant eaters suddenly become eager when they can break the wheels off hot-dog-Mommy’s car or be a shark eating a giant squid.  (It’s a bit pathetic what a desperate mother will do to convince her progeny to eat over-processed pseudo-meat, but desperation breeds creativity.)

Most of life is like feeding children, at least in the perception arena.  As a stay-at-home mom, I find myself doing the same things over and over, day in and day out.  My days seem to consist solely of potty runs, diaper changes, snack times, laundry loads, time-outs, and clean-up.  It seems that I regularly need to put a new face on these activities to keep them from feeling stale and worthless.

How do you constantly put a new face on mothering?  It’s not easy, that’s for sure.  Some things that work for me:

  • I remember my own childhood and how the mundane daily tasks my mother performed gave me security.  Her constant cleaning and care-taking meant that my mind could be elsewhere, moving on up Maslow’s hierarchy, learning and growing.
  • I find a way to put a new spin on my chores.  For one day, I clean the floor by joining my son in dragging my mop behind me and claiming to be a street sweeper.
  • I reward myself for a job well done.  Sometimes scrubbing around the base of the toilet  just isn’t enough reward on its own.  Telling myself that I can put my feet up and read in the evening if I can only buckle down and scrub the potty in the afternoon can make the task a little more bearable.
  • I dream of the future, anticipating things I’d like to do with my children when they’re just a little older, and I remind myself that I need to get them successfully through their baby and toddler years in order to have the happy, intelligent, well-adjusted kids I look forward to playing and exploring with down the road.
  • I read books and blogs to remind me that I’m not alone in this sometimes-lonely journey.

How do you survive the drain of the everyday?

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