During my lunch “break” yesterday (in other words, while I picked the meat off a leftover chicken carcass, dipped it in buffalo sauce before eating it, then worked on school corrections) I watched an episode of the show “Revolution,” which I love, and has also just been cancelled (not sure if I have any friends to commiserate with me on the injustice of that decision). The show takes place 15 years after a worldwide apocalyptic blackout. Life is primitive, and brutal.
In one scene of this episode, our hero, Miles Matheson, is racing in his horse-drawn wagon to evade a band of bad guys trying to kill him, as usual. The wagon overturns. He is a sharp-shooter, so as soon as the bad guys catch up to him, he has no trouble doing away with most of them. With one guy left standing, Miles is out of bullets, darn it! They reach for their swords, and Miles eventually kills his opponent, but only after sustaining a severe stab wound to the gut. Ouch! He wanders off in search of his friends.
Coming to the ruins of a house, Miles stops to look around, and falls through the rotten floor boards into the basement. Obviously injured further, and wincing in pain, he looks over to see a First Aid kit on the floor next to him. He can barely reach it, but when he does, he finds that it is empty. “This is a really bad day,” he says. Just then, a teetering brick wall of the ruins falls over, crashing over the opening to the basement, where he is now trapped.
I’m not sure if the writers of this intense sci-fi drama intended for that scene to have a touch of humor, but I laughed out loud. One life-threatening situation after another, and he says it’s a “really bad day”? It was the ultimate understatement, and it was also a statement I could relate to. I was having a really, really bad day. Here’s why:
1) The health issues I have blogged about have impacted my sleep pattern in a big way. I used to wake up early enough to work out, eat breakfast alone, shower and dress, and do some light yard work before my kids woke up. It was glorious! I felt relaxed, put-together, and ready to face a day of parenting and home school.
Now I can barely drag myself out of bed, usually after a few of my kiddos are already up. After 7 or 8 hours of sleep, I still feel like I could sleep for hours, and each step of getting up takes a concerted effort (open eyes, remove covers, swing legs to floor, sit up, etc.). I have no alone time, and I’m rushing to get ready for the day when my kids are already asking for help with their school work. I have neither the energy nor the time for working out. As a result, I’m grumpy. A lot.
2) Also due to the changes in my health, I have a negative, self-depreciating narrative on a loop in my brain, which I fight against constantly. I pray it away, but it just comes back. I feel like crap most of the time, both mentally and physically.
3) On this particular morning, my three younger daughters, who are required to amuse themselves while the big kids do school (that’s why God gave you siblings!), could not seem to get along. First the middle one came crying that the other two won’t be her “best buddies” anymore. Then the older one complained that the little girls won’t play with her, or that what they’re playing is stupid, or that they’re stupid, or that I’m stupid because I look unimpressed with her tragic dilemma.
4) We were having a rough school day. Warm, breezy weather distracted us. A dead mouse on the porch was uber fascinating. The work was too hard. The teacher was unfair. The teacher hates the students. By lunch time, I had spent all my time breaking up arguments and fielding complaints, while the correction pile had grown to a leaning tower of workbooks (how they actually got any work done is still a mystery).
So my lunch “break” arrived and I endured a few interruptions (no, you may not have Pepsi. yes, please eat the leftovers. do whatever you want, but for the love of God, please let me eat!). I chuckled at Miles Matheson’s “really bad day.” I smiled. Ok, so maybe my morning wasn’t so bad. Deep breath and move on.
Only…..my day didn’t get the memo that we were moving on from rotten. Ready for act two? (If you are still reading, I promise there’s a point to all this…..I hope…..still waiting for that part to download.)
5) Bad school attitude continued until it was time for chores to begin. Most of the children complied, but two little ones laid on their bedroom floor and refused to clean up the ankle-deep dress-ups and dolls. Stern discipline was employed, followed by wailing. I had a hard time drumming up tenderness for the follow-up hug.
6) After a relatively smooth preparation for a family outing to my husband and son’s church league softball game, I realized on the way there that I forgot to take my vitamin D supplement, which affects both my energy level and my mood stability. Great.
7) We arrived at the ball field to find gusting winds. It cut the humidity, which was nice, but posed a problem for our dinner plans. We rarely try to eat at ball games, but this night we had take out Haitian food from a fundraiser. Strong winds do not mix well with serving rice, beans, and chicken on paper plates to small children. Food went flying, and my church friends got to hear the opposite of my “super-patient-in-public-you’d-never-guess-I-have-a-temper” voice. I was so irritated that I was only slightly embarrassed at my tone.
8) Haitian food got mixed reviews. Some children started asking for snacks. I had brought none, of course, because we were having dinner. Here’s a Dum Dum, kid.
9) It was dry. Like, desert dry. And you remember I said it was windy, right? It was an action-packed game. With every mad dash to steal a base, or slide, or really, even a batter getting walked to first base, an immense cloud of dirt wooshed over us. Only on our side of the field. The wind never changed direction, the whole time. I could taste it, gritty on my teeth. My hair went stiff with a coating of dirt on it. It’s in my eyes. I had to close them for 5 minutes when dirt got stuck under my contacts. I almost ripped them out of my eyes to throw them away, but my tears finally did their job.
10) When we left the game, it was almost 8pm on a school night, and every one of us needed a bath or shower when we got home. It started to rain, and then we were driving in a torrential downpour while I clenched my armrests and prayed. We made it home alive.
And that’s it. The rest was cake. I filed the kids and adults through the shower, one after the other. Here, eat a banana. Night-night. As I walked through the final, and peaceful by comparison, hours of my day, I began writing this post in my head. It seemed too ridiculously frustrating and real not to share. But I kept coming to a dead end. What was the point? Where is the lesson? What grand conclusion will I wrap up with a pretty bow to give this rather long-winded list of bad-day events some meaning?
Well, folks, it’s nothing profound or new or insightful. This is real life. Whether you have 2 kids or 20, there are bound to be days when everything goes wrong. Some people assume that because I have a large family, life must be chaotic. (On a side note, be careful what you say in front of your kids. I once had a young child say to me, “You must be SO stressed out with SO many kids.” Gee, I wonder where she heard that?) The truth is that my life is no more chaotic than it was when I had a smaller family. Really. On most days, there may be a squabble or two, or one kid is a little grumpy. Days like yesterday, when everyone seems to be in a foul mood, and things go wrong the entire day, and my body and brain can’t keep up with it all…..those are few and far between.
At the end of every day, including the rotten ones, I can rest in the arms of my Savior and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He has my back. When I fail, He covers my mistakes with grace and love. He shows me how to love my children when the you’re-so-mean’s make it so, so hard. It’s in His power that I mother, on good days and bad days. Period. On my own, I’m weak. The inevitable failures destroy me and leave me without hope. But with HIM, there is always hope. Sweet, life-saving hope.