So today was rough.
I yelled too much. I zoned out too much. I disciplined too little, too late, to inconsistently.
I whined about my kids on facebook. (To my facebook friends, which is to say… all of you, I’m sorry about that.) That’s kind of graceless, whining about a privilege that some women would give appendages to have.
I can hear a lot of you, my gracious, kind friends… We’ve all been there. It’s just a rough day. It’ll get better. Tomorrow’s a new day. I can hear you because I am you. I’ve said those things. Not to myself, typically, of course. But to my friends. You know. People I like. I say those things.
I texted a friend, my person, knowing she would ask me what I could do to mitigate the disaster. So I preempted her and, as I was texting her, came up with a recovery plan. I’d do something sort of fun but energy burning while Brian was down to get the girls’ wiggles out and get myself a little exercise at the same time. I mean, the problems were obvious. Most notably, I had to make it two hours until naptime and a LOT can happen in two hours that could derail the plan. But still.
Maybe it would work.
Sort of. Brian went down. I got a few things that would entertain and (more importantly) wear the girls out. I got some exercise, which made me feel better, anyway. But they were still crazy and required more supervision than I had capacity to give. And now I needed a shower.
(In the interest of finishing part of a story, which is a luxury I rarely get, I should tell you how the shower thing went down. I put Katherine, the one more prone to destruction at this point, in time-out next to the shower where I could see her, and left Jenna to do dishes, which she loves. And by “do the dishes,” I definitely mean “play with water, eat brown sugar and raw oatmeal and wash zero dishes,” but whatever. By this point in the day, it mattered very little.)
So… Now that I’m past it, and, by happy accident (or, realistically, God’s grace) out of the house, away from the chaos, what do I do about it?
I mean, obviously I see the pattern… the chaos overwhelms my senses, so I tune out. Just for a second. Just to focus on something besides the crazy for a tiny bit. But a tiny bit turns into a couple minutes. The kids get frustrated that I’m not paying attention to them or their requests (demands) and they get louder. And they realize that my inattention is really an opportunity. Preschoolers with opportunities are dangerous. And the chaos increases. I snap back to real life long enough to be like what the heck is wrong with these tiny humans?!? and react to whatever ridiculous thing just happened. Spoiled milk is cleaned from the carpet. Clean (but dog hairy) laundry is shaken off or tossed back in, based on general fuzziness. Bites are tended, water mopped up. Various consequences are administered with as much reasonableness as I can muster. But the damage is done and my senses are further overwhelmed, so I could use a bit more of a break. So I tune out for another minute. Facebook is good for that. As is texting. Or really whatever makes me feel like I’m interacting with normal adult people rather than the crazy ones who temporarily replaced my darling babies.
And on it goes.
So this is clearly at least mostly my fault. I mean, they’re preschoolers. What else am I supposed to expect?
I could brainstorm more productive fixes for the overwhelm, clearly.
I could go through the mental recording of the day looking for things I need to make right with the kids. (Sorry is a big thing around here.)
I could just sit in the frustration of having gotten sucked into zoning out and letting the day spiral out of control… again.
And a few of those things (at least the first two) really ought to be done.
But, for now, for just a minute, I’m going to pretend for that it was someone else’s day. What if this was Alycia? Audrey? Staci? Any of you?
Here’s what I’d message you. (And I guarantee it’d be a written message- the chances of spitting this all out in a voice conversation are nil.)
Oh, I’m SO SORRY you had that day. I have that day all the time, too. It’s ok. Really. the kids will be ok. They won’t hate you forever, and they probably won’t end up delinquents. Not based on today, anyway. And this isn’t your every day. It happens now and then, but it’s still the exception, not the rule. It sucks. But it’s gonna be ok. God loves your kids. You love your kids. One bad day doesn’t change that at all. And they know that. There’s enough grace for you. Even today. Instead of zoning out, would it work to actually put yourself in time-out? Or, you know, take a conveniently-timed bathroom break? Then they’d know you weren’t available? Or if they were being naughty anytime you left the room, is there a way to occupy them so you could step away? Something? I don’t know. Just some thoughts. Get some rest. Give yourself a break. God’s got this.
Ha. There it is. Rest and a break and there’s plenty of grace to go around. And actually step away, rather than looking like I’m present without actually being available. (Did I tell myself that, before I went and pretended it was your day? No. This shouldn’t be such revolutionary advice, as it’s pretty standard from me, but it hits me as a shock, just the same.)
This whole exercise is cracking me up. At this moment, I’m not sure I’ll publish it. (I don’t even have a picture!) But if I do, would you consider trying it? Next time you catch yourself in self-judgment, maybe pretend that it’s me in your shoes, and I’m just venting to you about it? What would you say to me or to another friend? What would you say if you didn’t automatically spew all the angry, blaming things people tend to say to themselves? Just a thought. Give yourself a little bit of the grace you’d give to a friend.