I knew winter break week with both kids, alone, and no set plans was going to be rough. It was only Tuesday, but I was already losing it.
As expected, the boys were running amok, playing with everything and nothing in particular. I made the bed and left the room. Ten minutes later, I returned to an unmade bed. Mildly irritated, I remade it and left the room again, only to return to it rumpled and jumped on, with children nowhere in sight. This time, all bedding had been tossed to the floor, intertwined with plastic wrappers from cheese sticks. How in the world did they get cheese sticks? I made the bed again, cursing the clumps of mozzarella ground into the sheets from young, sticky feet stomping on them.
I don’t remember what I fed the kids for breakfast, but I do remember vacuuming the crumbs from the dining room floor, as I do after every meal, snack or craft project gone awry. Sometimes, I even find myself vacuuming after drinks of water or juice.
As I turned to load the dishwasher, someone tipped their chair and crashed to the floor. Evil Mommy didn’t care about potential injuries, as much as she was irked there were more crumbs to vacuum.
Interspersed at 5-10 minute intervals throughout were, “Jeremy, get down. Jeremy, no climbing. Jeremy, get off. Jeremy, sit down. Jeremy, don’t rip that. Jeremy, what did I just say? Get down! No climbing!”
After confiscating six peeled oranges that no one intended to eat and vacuuming for the third time, I start ramping up to leave for Jeremy’s OT appointment 30 minutes away. The appointment was at noon, so I decided to make grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. They could eat lunch on the drive down. Begrudgingly, I turned on the TV to occupy them, only to hear them roaming about the house a few minutes later, ignoring the conceded TV.
As I walked over to turn off the TV, Justin spilled my full cup of coffee all over the floor. More silent cursing, wiping, and — yes– vacuuming.
CRASH. I ran over to the living room to find Jeremy had yanked down the rod in the coat closet. A pile of jackets, scarves and miscellaneous sports equipment lay jumbled in a heap, hangers sticking out of them haphazardly. Jeremy stood forlornly in the middle of it all. He peered at my face and started going through his mental Rolodex of stock answers, “Quiet mouth, no jumping, say sorry, no climbing, you sit down, say sorry…”
I was so livid, I started to shake him, choking on words I was trying to choose carefully through my ill-managed fury. What did that therapist say? “Keep your language simple. Not too many words…” But by the grace of God, I caught myself. I was losing control and quickly heading somewhere dangerous. I hastily pulled up Angry Birds on my phone (oh, the irony), threw it into Jeremy’s lap and stormed into the kitchen.
I needed to hit something. I knew I couldn’t hit my child, but I desperately needed to hit something. My hands landed on a thick, wooden cooking spoon. All the piss and vinegar I wanted to unleash, I poured out on the kitchen floor, the marble counter top; anything that wouldn’t bruise.
After collecting the shards of wood flung throughout the kitchen, I proceeded to salvage what I could of charred ham and cheese sandwiches. Justin approached me with his digital kiddie camera. “Look, Mommy!” he said excitedly. “I took a picture of you, when you so mad at the floor!” The two-inch display revealed a grainy, shameful blur of hair and wild wooden spoon abandon.
11: 37 AM
I laughed so hard I cried.
It’s a fine line between tears of joy vs. tears of madness. When you find yourself straddling that tipping point, tip towards joy. Choose joy. It’s much juicier. Besides, sweet and sour go surprisingly well together.
- How are you keeping sane on “ski week” when you’re not skiing? Share your survival strategies and cabin fever antidotes.
- Have you ever had a laugh-so-hard-you-cried moment? What was it about?
- How is God using difficult circumstances to teach you joy amidst hardship? How can you choose joy today?
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