Naming The Wild Things

Ask a mom of littles what her day looks like, and she will probably laugh in your face. The day, in large part, is what it is. However, since entering the parenting trenches three-and-a-half years ago, I have begun to take hold of the unexpected practice of peacemaking through planning. What used to read “prison” to my young adult mind now reads “empowerment” and maybe even “freedom.”

Historically, I have been a passive recipient of my day. I didn’t need to plan my day because there was very little chance of it derailing. For a time, school dictated my days. I sat in class; I ate a meal; I practiced piano, somehow wrote research papers, and attended opera rehearsals; I performed, auditioned, spent time with friends, but it felt like it all just happened to me. Perhaps I showed up late to class from time to time, or I had a disappointing day at work, but I never thought about deciding what I wanted my day to look like, because overall, it went off without a hitch.

Enter three kids, and I am gripping the rails with strong coffee and desperate prayers. Poring over parenting books, mommy blogs, and biblical texts, I searched for the right cocktail of teachings to dismantle the behavioral bombs ticking in their small chests, threatening to go off at any moment. “Keep your head down; brace yourself; have a bottle of wine ready for when the evening winds down,” my inner voice urged. Yet, I wondered, “What would it look like to have peace now?”

I found that I didn’t want to merely survive. I wanted to thrive, and thriving takes work. It takes being intentional with the time I have each day.

So, in the midst of a day, I began to learn how to stop and take account of all the feelings and all the experiences. Were they giving us life, or detracting from it? Were they moving us forward or holding us back? This act was powerful. I found I could order the day, giving it shape and purpose.

The Christian creation story imagines God hovering over the darkness of nothingness and giving it shape and purpose—speaking identity over that which was chaos. Light is born, land is born, ocean is born, animals are born, humans are born. The cycle of life is created and called “good.”

I imagine a mother’s morning much like God giving names to the wild things. “Order the day, or the day will order you,” someone very smart once told me. So, a mother stares into the blank face of the day and starts to draw on a little lipstick and a little rouge on its cheeks.

That is where the art happens—the art of choosing a color palette for the day and painting with abandon. On some days the palette may look like snacks on the couch and a little too much Netflix. On other days it may look like sneaky kale smoothies and make-believe play. Perhaps we are going to grandma’s, or maybe we are heading out to explore nature.

An ordered day doesn’t necessarily mean a tightly wound day. It means I begin the day with intention, set a few goals, and leave a lot of room for improvisation. Grace will cover whatever marks are missed. When the sun goes down and the littles are tucked in, God will scoop me up and call the day “good,” delighting in the simple fact that I am his child and he is proud.

It’s true for you too—whether you are a homeschool mom, a Montessori mom, a STEM mom, a daycare five-days-a-week mom, a three-square-meals-a-day mom, or a hot dog for brekkie, lunch, and dinner mom.  You are meant for more than survival; you are meant to thrive. So, I wonder, what are you ordering up for today?

Kelsi Folsom holds a B.M. in Voice Performance and has traveled all over the world participating in operas, musicals, jazz bands, and choirs. Now a mom to “three under three”, she currently resides inSan Antonio, Texas while her husband attends medical school in Saba, Dutch Caribbean. When she is not putting on her best Cherubino while changing dirty diapers, you can find her perfecting gluten-free recipes, *gasp* reading, enjoying a nap, or trying to make sense of her life over french press. Kelsi writes here.