There’s laundry that desperately needs folding, a dishwasher waiting to be unloaded, my floor is filthy, conference calls and chart audits are calling my name and there are sheets in the washer because, well, accidents happen. But it was the moment the dog ripped the hose faucet right off the wall outside, I decided to call an audible. I’m not always good off the cuff but I packed sandwiches, grabbed a baseball hat, a handful of juice drinks and loaded the kids in the car before I had a chance to talk myself out of it. I’m writing this from a picnic table of my city park. Thankfully it’s an unusually breezy, not-so-humid kind of day over here so we aren’t really breaking a sweat… yet, and this just felt like a good compromise. I try hard to keep up the juggling act, working from home for a local hospice company, writing enough to make a difference, keeping some semblance of cleanliness and cooking something relatively healthy, more often than not and I usually do a decent job. Today is just one of those days where the balls that I’m tossing around just aren’t feeling the vibe I’m putting out. Or, maybe they are reading my moods correctly and I just desperately wish there was something different I was offering.
I call it the parenting paradox. The fact that, as a mom, the one thing I don’t have the energy to do, is often the exact remedy for the overwhelming stress of adulting. Things like playing board games, picnics at the park or bike rides WITH my kids around the neighborhood (as opposed to SENDING them on their own) always end up giving me a huge return on the investment of my time and energy. Reading picture books with them falls into this category, too. It’s one of the main reasons I started this challenge last year and knew it was important to continue it this summer. It’s too easy to let these lazy summer days slip away in the midst of housework, real work and commitments. I can quickly get consumed with checking off the things on my to-do list and loose track of the opportunities right in front of me. I need something to make me sit down, slow down and share my energy with the ones who really need it. I need much more than 100 picture books, but this is a good place to start. This week we had an incredible, funny and feel-good stack of books. We laughed a lot, re-read more than one on a daily basis and finished off the list of ten in record time. I hope you find a new favorite from this list, I know I found a few!
1. It’s Not Jack & the Beanstalk written by Josh Funk, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor (Funniest. Picture. Book. Ever.)
2. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (So dang clever.)
3. Little Red Rolls Away written by Linda Whalen, illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris (cross your fingers for me!)
4. Pup and Bear written by Kate Banks, illustrated by Naoko Stoop
5. Small by Gina Perry (cross your fingers, again, if you don’t mind!)
6. Gus, the Dinosaur Bus written by Julie Liu, illustrated by Bei Lynn
7. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
8. Pink is for Blobfish written by Jess Keating, illustrated by David DeGrand (WOW! on repeat)
9. Max’s Castle written by Kate Banks, illustrated by Boris Kulikov (The whole series are favorites that we keep going back to)
10. Shark Lady written by Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens (This one totally lived up to the hype, in fact it exceeded it!)
In an article I read this week, 12×12 featured author Michelle Cusolito talked about writing in real life. She said that at different times, writing was both important to her self-care and important to step away from. The theme of her post centered around those big things that happen in life that have a tendency to throw you sideways, but the significance of the lesson need not be lost on the little day-to-day decisions either. I think the real struggle of the juggle, with writing, working, ‘momming’, and life in general, is recognizing when I need to step away, when it’s time to embrace, and when I need to jump on my own bike and pedal as fast as my legs can carry me. I hope you find the energy you most need and the motivation to use it well. I also hope you’re reading something fabulous.
Thanks for reading, come back anytime!