Thursday, May 22, 2014

Just One More

I am confident that everything I have to give to my kids is never enough. All night long, they ask for things, all the things, every single thing. Just one more kiss. Just one more hug. Just one more song. Just one more book. Just one more game of tag. Just one more slow gathering of the outdoor toys. And if I ask them to do something beyond themselves, like, say, pick up their shoes and put them in the closet, it is as if I have shot their dog and sentenced them to a lifetime of slave labor.

I hate that all of the asking for more all of the time makes me so angry and irritated. I don't want to give you another hug because I just gave you SIX, AND we read a story, and you've gone to the bathroom twice, and before that I rocked you and sang "Wagon Wheel," and before that, you took a bath that lasted ten minutes longer than I wanted it to because you started to whine about letting the water out of the tub, and no, you can't watch until the next commercial break, because that's what you said the last commercial break.


Just, just, just be content, please! I love you so much and I don't want to yell or make you cry or turn you down or leave you kicking and screaming in bed because you pushed us all beyond your regular bedtime and now you are over-tired and I am angry that you aren't listening. I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you. Just be content. What more can I give?

I think this is why this job of mothering is so exhausting. I can do the dishes and the laundry and make the dinners and vacuum (occasionally). I can do those things with ease and a jolly spirit. It's the Just-One-More disease that kills me. It wipes me clean out. After a night of severe Just-One-More-itis, I am bankrupt. Fill me with American Honey and send me to the couch for a romantic comedy or a dozen rounds of Candy Crush Saga or a book. Or just send me to bed.

I don't know the antidote to Just-One-More-itis. It appears as if I will daily disappoint my children by denying them just one more of something.

Unfortunately, it's the human condition. Ambition bites the heels of contentment all day, every day - in my case, it's just one more publication, just one more essay. I have to fight against my successes and failures defining my self-worth and instead remind myself that the things that I find most satisfying do not come with an acceptance letter: planting seeds and watching them grow, laughing with my husband, snuggling with my kids on the couch, writing for the sake of creating art, reading a good book, long talks with wine or coffee with friends, eating together with family... these activities dwell in the land of contentment. Ambition runs right over those things. Just one more level on Candy Crush Saga. Just one more.

What does it take to kill Just-One-More-itis? Persistence. Rationale. Setting priorities. Prayer. Patience. I think it's one of those diseases that keeps dormant for a time, and then just when you think you're cured, the symptoms start popping up again: oh, maybe just one more. It's no big deal. Just one more.

No more. Be content.