The Clean Platypus

Some days seem magical—things go well, I try some new ideas, I have something to show for the hours I’ve spent at various tasks. Then there are other times when I get to the end of the day struggling to find something of note that I accomplished. Sure, the kids were fed and dressed, they did their home-learning activities, they played in the park … but I still feel I want more. I want to be able to check off several things from my long to-do list. I want to be able to say I made leaps of progress. But rather than that, I feel like I’m falling further behind in so many areas of life.

At the end of a long day a few months back, I was trying to push off the weight of despondency from having so much to take care of, with problems piling up faster than I could keep up with. Then I walked into the bathroom and found Patrick (two years old) had taken his soft, fuzzy, stuffed platypus, filled up the sink, given it a good wash, and now had poured baking soda (which I use for cleaning the sink) all over it.

I didn’t need more messes to clean up. But it did look kinda cute, so I chuckled to myself, thinking, Even though I can’t seem to get around to any of my other goals, at least the platypus is clean!

Later, as I looked at the children, happy, cozy in bed, waiting for their bedtime story, I decided to change my criteria for “accomplishment” and a “good day.”

Now I go down a new list and see how many “checks” I can put.

  • Did I help my children smile today?
  • Was I patient when things didn’t go smoothly?
  • Did I show each son that I loved him personally?
  • Was I available to help, listen, and encourage, even at the cost of not “getting something done”?
  • Did I pray for someone today?
  • Did I laugh and choose to take things in stride when I felt like I was being pushed over the edge?

Tomorrow’s another day. Eventually the to-do list will work out. Plod. Breathe. Smile. Plod. Breathe. Smile. We’ll get there, eventually, wherever “there” is actually meant to be.