Two days ago, I failed. I still haven’t forgiven myself. It was definitely one of those drowning in the mommy muck, with no vine to pull yourself out by, kind of days. A whole day of feeling unkind.
I had spent two full days the week before painting my dining room. Turning drab beige and wall murals into the perfect shade of Totem Taupe. Replacing my just-moved-in-need-something-on-the-wall decorations with ones that are intentional. Lavishing my dining room with the attention I so rarely give to only one room of my house, or anything. And then, it happened.
“Mo-om! Calliope’s drawing on the walls with markers!” Now, if that sentence did not make your blood pressure instantly go up, then you, well, then you are a better person than I am. I jumped from my chair as if it were on fire. In 30 seconds, my little Picasso had drawn a three-piece mural, on two walls, in dark brown marker. And I did it, I yelled, “NO, NO!” Then I walked away, partly to get cleaning supplies, partly to calm down. Because, at that point, Mommy needed a time-out.
I washed the wall desperately. And God bless whoever invented semi-gloss paint, the marker came off. Too easily, because I was still angry. Only now I was angry at myself for yelling at a two-year old, and I felt ashamed of myself. I forced myself to calm down, then made things right with my daughter. She bounced back quicker than the wall had. But I have not. I hate yelling. Hate the thought of raising my voice at children, especially my children. I despise how two words can come out, loudly, and charge the air with hurt. And, worse, how you cannot un-yell.
See, it’s been building. The slow burn of all the stresses in my life piling up. I’ve been feeling like I am juggling plates over concrete. And the people around me don’t think to catch any of the plates. Or even to throw a pad of rubber at my feet, to lessen the pressure. They either point out which patterns on the plates they dislike, or comment on how full my hands are. I have to keep them going. They are up, up, then falling towards me again. Catch and release.
But, this morning, something changed. I woke up early in the 5 o’clock hour. And before the stresses of the day could mount their attack, I saw it. Felt it. The gentle light from the still rising sun. It’s my favorite. The inexplicable calm, the white glow of dawn. Not the angry, yellow-orange burning of midday. The peace of fresh mercy when a day has just begun.
I realized that I’ve forgotten to have fun this week. Fun! Fun is my signature color. And, I’d forgotten it. I have no interest in a house filled with beautiful things, if the halls do not echo with laughter. I want my children to enjoy our days together, to smile when they remember me. To share private jokes and have joy with memories. I want to be a joyful mom. So that it what I choose.
Sometimes it takes courage to put the plates down. But this is my day, I alone get to choose what goes in it. Today, all I need to hold are my children’s hands as I lead them, laughing, to fun.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a 9 year old waiting for me to beat him at Farkle….