They say to write what you know, but tonight I’m writing what I need to remember.
Today was hard. Yesterday was not my favorite, but today was REALLY hard. Today felt like walking involuntarily into a pit of quicksand. Without a rope.
That’s much too vague, so let me give you a snapshot of what happened just between 4:30pm and 5:30pm:
Now, it’s worth noting that it had already been a rough day. But so far, I had managed to keep smiling, to stay kind and patient. I was feeling like the worst had to be over, and I was an overcomer with a capital O, even though I was exhausted already. So, after ensuring that all 5 of my little miracles had clean clothes, matching shoes, brushed hair, and a recent trip to the bathroom, we set out. We picked up our ClickList order from Fred Meyer, on time, and with easy conversation flowing between myself and the attendants. This is when my 10 yr old twins began singing rewritten Christmas carols at the top of their lungs. It’s May, and the rest of us were already listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack, but whatever.
The car now filled to overflowing, we pressed on to the gas station. My six year old joined in the singing, and her older siblings attempts to rock the car hard enough to get my attention, while I calmly pumped their college savings into our SUV. I’m kidding. We don’t have college savings.
The singing turned to bickering. Someone stole my gas credits of over a dollar a gallon off. Nevertheless…. I persisted.
Which is when one of the wee little lambs proclaimed that they were about to pee their pants and had to go NOW. So instead of going to the coffee stand and local library, we raced home. The children bickered the whole way. But, no one peed, and as soon as we pulled into the driveway, it was announced that they no longer had to go anymore. Like magic.
While unloading enough groceries to feed a small country, I attempted to return a call. This is when one of my children tried to push their father’s lawn mower into the street, as cars were approaching. She didn’t even get three feet away from me (which means that she was still 10+ feet from the road) because I have the peripheral vision of a wolf, but still, adrenaline.
All in the house, and partway through reorganizing my full pantry, I suddenly had to run to the bathroom in order to avoid peeing my own pants. Afterward, when I went to stand up, my right arm glided through what felt like seeded clay mask solution. Poop. No, literally, poop. All over the wooden half wall border, and now, me.
I washed my arm, multiple times, put the 4 yr old culprit in timeout, used heavily toxic cleaning supplies (just kidding, it was Method) to clean the wall, and then rewashed my hands, three times. I turned off the faucet, and grabbed the towel, attempting to dry my hands, only to find that the towel, exactly where my hands were, is what she had used to wipe her behind after Pooptopia 2018.
I’m not kidding.
After putting the towel in the washer, I rewashed my hands and let them air dry as I headed to the kitchen to finish making the parts of dinner that weren’t in the crockpot. I opened the refrigerator, and BAM! Out came my brand new overpriced bottle of cold brew coffee concentrate, onto the floor, lid breaking and coffee shooting up my leg and glugging onto my just-cleaned-before-we-left floors. I swore, and bent down to pick it up. Which is the exact second that the mayonnaise flew off of the top shelf and directly onto my hurt toe.
I cried. Like a baby. A big, ugly, self-pitying baby.
The 4 year old came to comfort me, and touched my face with her unwashed (towel dried) hands, that still smelled of poop.
My husband, God bless him, did not laugh when I told him what had happened, mascara still staining my cheeks, like I had been the runner up in the Miss America pageant. Instead, he looked wide eyed and incredulously at me.
And that was just what happened in one hour today. There was so much more! And while it feels pretty cathartic to write all of that trivial terribleness down, what I needed was not something that venting could provide. Maybe, just maybe, what I needed to hear is what you need to hear tonight. Feel free to listen in and be consoled alongside of me.
You are a good mom. You are doing your best, and your best is good enough. Your children know that you love them. Your children love you, too. More than they show sometimes. More than they say sometimes. You are not a failure. You are not all dropped condiments and swear words. You are not a maid. You are a real person, who is loved. You are lovely, even if you don’t feel it. Even if your arm smells vaguely of poop. Even if your 4 year old needs to lay off the chia seeds.
You are making a difference. What you do matters. Even on the days that it seems like nothing you do is for keeps. Keep going. You can do this. You already are. This is just one bad day. Okay, two. But they haven’t been all bad. You have everything that matters. Tomorrow is a new day. And bedtime, for them and you, is right around the corner. The day is not a wash, no matter how much of the day you have spent washing up. There is still hope, things can still turn around. You will get through this. You’re already almost to the other side of this day. Just a little bit farther, you can make it.
You never have to see this day again. But also, you will never have this day again. It’s not too late for amazing, or at least for redemption. You tell them that they learn more from failure than from succeeding, let yourself believe that it applies to you, too. It can’t always be a day at the park, but then, you wouldn’t want it to. Get out the broom. Sweep up the broken pieces, mop up the stains of today. Serve your husband and babies, fill their plates. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and listen to the conversations that take place around the table that you set. Put the food, and resentment, away. Hold your babies.
Teach them to be humble and acknowledge that it was a hard day. Remind them that tomorrow will be better. Cast your love upon them, like a net in open waters. Enfold them with grace. Let yourself bathe in their laughter, cleanse the mundane from your face. You are worth more than the sum of your mistakes.
Tomorrow is waiting.