I once read a day in the life post by a mom of four who seriously had it together. I mean really. She was up early, went for a jog, cooked a spinach Quiche for her kids for breakfast, and read poetry to them all curled up together on the couch – before 9AM. I read this post at 10AM, and then looked around at the mess we call life.
Needless to say, I was not encouraged.
Needless to say, that is soooooo not our life.
Some days are better than others, to be sure. Most days look a lot like I described in my school day post earlier this week. But then, there’s those days.
You know them – I know you do.
Whether your kids are uniquely challenged or not, you know those days.
The days where it all slides out of control, straight down hill, into the ditch right off of Motherhood Lane.
The ones where no matter what you should do, all you want to do is go back to bed, or turn on a movie that is not for children, or hang out on Facebook all day, or drink an alcoholic beverage, or all of the above.
The one where you question why God would ever give you children in the first place, and you are pretty sure that your husband is part of some strange conspiracy to take you down.
Add my boy’s challenges to the mix, and these days happen more around here than I wish they would. They happen often enough that I can’t honestly share a day in our life, without showing the reality of a bad day too.
One of those days looks just like this –
7:20 AM – I wake to my youngest son calling me. I can barely open my eyes. I was up until 2 AM several nights leading up to this day, because eldest son’s brain just wouldn’t shut down for sleep, and he was having panic attacks. I stumble out of bed, bring the dog in to the boy to snuggle for a bit, and head directly to the coffee machine.
8:00 AM – After two cups of coffee, a little bit of Bible reading, and a little bit of staring blankly at the Facebook screen on my phone, I head in to start the day with my son. I hear my husband get up and grab coffee as well. We both look like the walking wounded. I say a prayer of thanks that I do not have to go to work today like he does.
9:15 AM – My oldest wakes up and yells loudly, “Moooooooommmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy,” from his bed, as my husband leaves for work. I crack open his door and he asks me to lie down with him and watch Minecraft videos. I am worried about how the day is going to go with all of us operating on so little sleep, so I turn a video on for his brother as well. I then try to stay awake while I watch a 25-year-old man show us all the things Minecraft.
9:40 AM – Little man calls that he needs more food – because I am clearly not only a chef, but also a waitress (no bitterness here at all…ahem). He had breakfast an hour ago, but my child is like a hobbit. I ask my oldest if I can get him something for breakfast as well. He starts to hyperventilate a little, unable to make a decision. As his anxiety increases, he screams at me, “I DON’T KNOW!” I speak in a low, calm voice, telling him that I will go plan some options, and that he doesn’t need to decide now.
10:00 AM – I glance at the clock and try to ignore the fact that no one is dressed, we have all barely had breakfast, and I am pretty sure it should be 3 PM by now. I try to work on reading, but it’s not going well. He is clearly tired too. I decide he has to practice reading today no matter what – because you know, at some point he will be an adult in the world, and reading works really well for that. I pressure him to continue with the book which causes him to start to cry, stomp around and say, “Don’t you understand? I have dys-a-lexia.” He slams the door to his room, I try not to scream (because the noise would probably cause a meltdown for his brother anyway) and I go to get dressed.
11:00 AM – I feel better now that I have real clothes (read: yoga pants) on and some concealer on the circles under my eyes. I check on the little guy first, who is now playing a game on the iPad. I choose to ignore this, because the game requires him to spell, and that is just about all I can hope for as far as learning is concerned right now. I go into my oldest’s room next and give him his meds for the day. He takes them without any fuss and I sigh a big sigh of relief. Then, he tells me that he needs to go and look at the pet store. When he says he needs to, he means he neeeeeeeds to. Aquariums are his fixation right now. Because he is obviously struggling today, he is trying to find a way to recover. Focusing on his fixations helps him feel better. When I tell him we can go after lunch, he smiles, and starts to read a book about Nano Reef Tanks.
11:45 AM – Every ten minutes or so, I hear my oldest yell, “Oh would you just be quiet!” at his brother. The sounds of my making lunch, the iPad game, the dog’s nails clicking on the wood floor – it is all just too much for him on this overloaded day. I go back into his room and tell him that we will not be going to the pet store if he is going to continue to scream. He starts to tear up and wring his hands. I take a breath and then sit down next to him.
12:45 PM – After reassuring my son that I am quite sure he is capable of not yelling at us for the next few hours, and then serving lunch, I decide to take my youngest out to the trampoline. We jump together as I call out math facts for him to solve. After ten minutes, I am in actual pain and try to remember if I know any other 40-year-old momma who jumps on the trampoline. I lie down in the center and just let the kid bounce around me.
2:00 PM – The boy who lives next door has no school today. Yay! I quickly run over and ask his mom if my youngest can stay with them for a bit while his brother and I head to the pet store. She is wonderful and graciously welcomes him in, telling me to take my time.
2:30 PM – We pull into the parking lot of the store. I go over the expectations – you only have your birthday money to spend, we will not bring home any more reptiles, even if you don’t find something today it will be OK because you will then have the money to spend when you do find something. He listens, nods and is bouncing all over the seat in anticipation of the fish.
3:05 PM – Have I mentioned how boring it is walking around and around and around the pet store? Have I mentioned how happy my son is right now? Worth it.
3:30 PM – On the way home, my son tells me all about the difference between South American fresh water cichlids and their care (because South America has very soft water in case you are wondering) and African cichlids and their care (because Lake Malawi has hard water, of course). He knows it ALL. I decide this is as close as we are going to get to science for today, and I try to relax. I noticed I was clenching my teeth again as we walked around the store, not only because I can tell he is still really anxious, but because I have that little voice in the back of my head telling me that I am failing these kids – in their schooling, in keeping their routines, in the amount of sleep they are getting….and on and on and on.
5:15 PM – Disaster strikes. Setting up the tank is not going the way my son thought it would. Plants float my friends, like a lot. Plants apparently really prefer floating to being firmly planted in wet gravel under 10 gallons of water. And now the full-on meltdown occurs. I try to keep him from dumping the tank over in his room and I succeed. I try to keep him from hurting himself in frustration and I fail. He has marks on his arms and I am sweating when I leave his room 20 minutes later. I find his brother on the trampoline again. I climb in and sit down. He curls up on my lap, and I breath in his boy-ness for a moment. Then I close my eyes and silently pray that God will protect his little boy heart, bring peace to our home, and release his brother from the grip of anxiety.
5:45 PM – I call my husband to give him a heads up on our day. Sometimes, I don’t do this because he worries and gets super stressed about what he will find when he gets home. Today however, I need him to stop for a special kind of deli turkey meat, in case my boy can’t tolerate dinner tonight. “At least we know he will always eat a turkey sandwich,” I say as my husband sweetly agrees to stop. He says he will be home soon, and I start counting the minutes.
7:15 PM – Dinner happens at the table with three of us, and my oldest eating a turkey sandwich in his bedroom, under his lycra sheets, reading a book about aquariums. My husband saved the day with the turkey meat, and even picked up some flowers for me. I realize how blessed I am, even on the bad days.
8:00 PM – We all snuggle up on the couch and watch Alaskan Bush People. My youngest says he would give up all of the technology in the world if he could go live off the land for a month. I seriously consider it as an option.
The rest of the night goes about the same as any other, although my oldest starts to get anxious again when it is time to sleep. My husband stays up with him to help, and I am down for the count by 10 PM.
Some days are like this. They just are. I have tried and I have tried to find ways to avoid them or somehow control them, but what I have learned is that these days will come. When they do, I try to remember to just maintain. Just take the next step and make it through.
A day like this is not the day to be a hero. A day like this is not the day to assess how we are doing in math or worry about keeping the floors clean. On days like this, I find myself focused on just keeping everyone safe, fed, and maybe even bathed.
And thanking God that tomorrow is a new day.