A woman of many hats? Possibly. But I think a better descriptor of my life is a woman of many arms! This is especially true when I find myself navigating down a highway, among windy country roads, or up against a multitude of requests as I try to do everything in my power to drive my crew from point A to point B as safely as possible.
I’m a mom of three, need I say more? From adjusting the temperature to making sure the cartoon DVD is playing… from picking up a fallen pencil to refilling snack bowls… I can’t quite figure out why these requests must come during the most inopportune times while I am driving. And furthermore, why upon the delivery of each kiddo, I wasn’t gifted with an extra arm to accomplish these requests baffles me.
While feeling like three little people’s personal assistants each and every day, that feeling is heightened when I become the trash collector (“Momma, here is my goldfish bag!”), the conflict resolver (“Momma, he won’t stop playing the kazoo in my ear!”), and the family agenda (“Momma, where are we going? What are we doing after that? And after that? And after that?”) all at once. Needless to say, at some point during a car ride, I’m likely to not be as efficient and effective as one of my “mini mes” would prefer. That’s when true chaos begins.
This day was like all others. A drink was needed at the same time that a movie change was requested. A snack refill demand was next and while my nerves were able stay intact up to this point, when my youngest dropped a toy and requested I pick it up for him, I waved the flag of surrender. One tired momma can only do so much and driving safely while picking up a toy in the backseat was not only something I wasn’t capable of, but something I wasn’t even going to entertain discussion around.
Most times when I say no, I get one of two responses from my kids – nagging: knowing that my level of exhaustion will likely cause me to fold after they are persistent in their request or silence: when the tone of my voice makes it painfully obvious that the conversation is complete. But my youngest doesn’t conform to our family norms, and that day he didn’t either. Instead, after I patiently told him that I can’t pick up the tiny dinosaur figurine that he had dropped into the van’s abyss, his response left me speechless.
“But you can.”
I tried to bring some reasoning into the chat, acknowledging that I couldn’t because safety was more important than his figurine. I tried to help him realize that Momma’s arms were too short and I didn’t literally have eyes in the back of my head to be able to see where the dinosaur was hiding. I just couldn’t.
His response? “But Momma, yes you can.”
If I’ve learned anything in parenting, I’ve come to realize that sometimes negotiation just isn’t possible. And no matter how many times I tried to explain to my 3-year-old that Momma just couldn’t do it, he would get more and more frustrated repeating with such certainty “but you can!”.
In times like this, silence is the best solution, so I did just that. I stopped talking. I stopped negotiating. I stopped trying to bring reason into the situation (I mean, shouldn’t I have known better?!). But when I stopped, my son’s words began on repeat in my mind. I couldn’t shake the three simple, yet powerful, words from my thoughts. “But you can.”
I figured it was my lack of sleep that caused my mind to not be able to think of anything more. But it only took a few moments for me to realize that while sleep would have been a nice addition to my life, the words from my youngest were exactly what I needed at that time.
You know those moments when it’s as if time stops? I’m talking about those moments where you feel like everything around you pauses while you have an “ah-ha” moment of your own. You can’t hear the noise in the background and anything else you were thinking about it a blur because at that specific moment you are focused on something with such clarity that its power is stronger than anything you’ve experienced.
In the middle of the expressway, I had that moment. “But you can.” It’s hard for a momma to admit at times, but this time my son was right. Sure, I COULD pick up his figurine. Of course, I COULD get him what he needed at that specific moment. To be honest we are capable of doing ANYTHING. The question all along wasn’t if I could do it or not, but rather if I would.
“But you can, Momma.” While I didn’t have Elastigirl’s stretchy arm to find the hidden toy, I did have the power to pull over and retrieve the treasured piece. And while I did, I found a smile creep on my face, for what my son had told me was something I so needed to hear.
In the depths of my own thoughts, I find myself from time to time wondering if I am capable. Am I capable of managing everything on my to-do list? Can I possibly overcome the latest hurdle? Will I be able to be all I dream of being? The underlying questions I find brewing all can be answered by the sweet (and sometimes annoying) response that my youngest now uses for EVERYTHING… “But Momma, you can.”
You can achieve what you dream. You can conquer what you’re up against. You can be everything you’re supposed to be. You can do anything you put your mind to. You are truly capable of anything – all you have to do is stop questioning yourself and believing you can!
The next time you find yourself pondering an action, an ability, a choice… remember the little guy in the backseat of my van telling me that while I may not have thought of the simple solution to pull over to get his figurine, he knew that I was capable of anything I wanted to make possible all along.