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My day with my kids was chaos until I stopped to smell the flowers

This morning started off chaotic and bleak, consisting of a neglected coffee cup and two unique challenges from my preschooler and toddler.

My job is to get my preschooler to school by 9 a.m., but today my obstacles were clear. He didn’t want to go and cried about how he doesn’t want to see another kid in his class, because he’s afraid this kid will hit him and say mean things. Did I mention he’s only 3? My mind is swirling with how to help him be brave and courageous, and at the same time I want desperately to keep him home, hug him and fill him with love instead of sending him off to be brought down by someone else.

Of course in the midst of trying to navigate this difficult situation, my almost 2-year-old daughter declared to the house — and the entire neighborhood — that she has decided to come along to preschool dropoff in her brother’s rain boots and nothing else. Besides the obvious point of needing to wear clothes in public, her brother was not too happy with her boot choice.

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I had a screaming, back-arching, writhing and stripping toddler and a scared preschooler, but I did drop him at school and give him a big hug. My daughter’s hair was wild and uncombed, and her clothes were haphazard — but she was wearing them. She was not, however, wearing shoes. Arriving at home with my moody toddler, something clicked.

I realized I have a choice to make about my day. I put on my shoes, strapped my daughter in the stroller and went running, even though I’d had way too much coffee and way too little water. Once I got going, I noticed something. Since the last time I took this familiar path along a familiar road, hundreds of flowers have bloomed — I mean an astonishing amount.

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The farther I ran along the path, the more gorgeous blooms greeted me. Some were neatly planned and planted by the city, but then suddenly there were open spaces with tangled messes of bright wildflowers interwoven and nourished not by irrigation but only by the scant rainfall of San Diego. Even on my way back along the same path, I noticed flowers I hadn’t seen on the way out.

My heart filled with joy and peace. The flowers planted and planned bloomed well and perfectly, but the wildflowers in all their unexpected, tangled and seemingly random and spontaneous beauty stunned me. They seemed to thrive despite drought and order. All the flowers, though different, flourished in harmony along my path — just like mothering.

Some parenting days seem as orderly as the planted and planned flowers, and others are a mix. Today and most days are like those wildflowers — a tangled, unplanned and organically beautiful mix flourishing in adversity. Taking a break to run and notice nature allowed me to breathe, slow down and realize blooming is possible despite worldly conditions. That realization filled me with the strength and peace today requires.

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