Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Things I Don't Blog

Today has been one of those days; you know--one of THOSE days. In homage to what is thankfully not a frequent occurrence, I'm going to have a momentary breakdown and blog The Things I Don't Blog.

I could say it started when we went out to the car this morning, rushing because I really, REALLY needed to get to my morning class on time, only to discover that, once again, the kids left a car door partially open and drained the battery overnight.

Getting to class at all, let alone on time, didn't happen, which sucked because I completely bombed the previous night's homework (and I mean, BOMBED), when I followed the idiotic train of thought that taking a timed quiz with small children in the home could actually work. HAH!

I could say that the icing on the cake was settling down to work late tonight, in a vain attempt to catch up from life in general and from being out sick yesterday, only to get a phone call that child number 2 was at the emergency room with children nos 1, 3, 4, prepping for stitches from a playground accident and none of them had eaten dinner yet.

But then I'd have to back up and explain that I'd caught some kind of bug and haven't eaten anything besides fruit juice and chicken broth since Saturday, and spent Sunday & Monday feeling a shade off from death itself, hence the need to work late and catch up.

And the reason I (probably) got sick is because I never, ever get enough sleep. Ever. Partly my own insanity of trying to go to school while working fulltime; partly my insanity of having four kids. Partly the kids' insanity because they have this wild belief that waking up all night is a normal and fun thing to do, and if it's so much fun, bringing Mommy into the action is even better.

I actually wouldn't mind if child no. X woke me up, if that meant we'd finally get past this bedtime potty training thing. As it is, she wears pullups, and even with those, her bed still reeks of pee. The entire room reeks of pee. I think you can smell it the minute you turn down the hall in that general direction, and I'm not sure, but I think sometimes you can even smell it from the front door. Since daily morning baths are not an option (see above about children getting up all freaking night long), she often just gets rinsed off and wiped down and sent off to school where other children tell her that she smells like pee. I'm pretty sure that I am A.) sealing my win for Worst Mother of the Year, and B.) ensuring that she'll spend hours in therapy as an adult. And now I just blogged this to the universe. The poor girl doesn't stand a chance.

However, the smell wafting down the hall from her bedroom has to compete with the many, many unpleasant odors filling my house. Kids' bathroom? Check. Overflowing garbage can with too many days worth of anonymous child's bedtime diapers. Downstairs bathroom? Check. Apparently if Mom never goes into that bathroom flushing is not only optional, it's undesirable. Laundry room? Check. You'd think a room dedicated to cleaning clothes would be safe from stink, but a 7-year old who thought it was funny to throw her wet swimsuit behind the dryer three months ago ensured that even that shrine of cleanliness smells like a locker room. The kitchen? Don't even go there. Really. Don't. I haven't cleared away dinner from two nights ago, the drain on one side of the sink isn't working, and the kids stuck something down the disposal that I can't get to and the smell coming from the sink is somewhere between retch and death.

In spite of numerous discussions and punishments, a massive chalkboard in the kitchen, and an obscene quantity of scratch paper & pens, the children persist in using the walls as canvas for their deepest thoughts. I'm not sure I'd mind if I saw Holy Writ scribbled next to the light switches, or loving sentiments inscribed next to the towel bar, but for some strange reason, seeing "I hat Mia," or "Mercieisbad," permanent-markered into the new paint job just sets me off.

So, we've established that the past couple of days have been a bit challenging.

All the more reason I had to shake my head in disbelief when a (deranged) student caught me today and said, "Hey! I know you! You're that smiley-lady who always makes people laugh over in the LA building! You're so cheerful!" Honey, lunatics are ALWAYS cheerful. It's a natural side effect of disconnecting from reality.

But it reminded me of a message that an old friend, recently reconnected with on facebook, sent a week or so ago, asking how I stay so upbeat and happy as a single mom. It wasn't the first, and I'm sure it won't be the last, time I've heard that question. For the record, here's my answer:

1.) I don't. You see the status updates on fb; you don't see me bawling on the closet floor after the kids go to bed. I don't post those on facebook.

2.) Life is hard. That's true for everyone, not just for single moms. I'd rather laugh about it. Laughing is waaaaaaay better than crying. Unless it's that therapeutic cry on the closet floor every few months.

3.) Sure, a divorced life isn't a cake walk, but if the choice is miserably married or happily divorced....well, I think it's pretty obvious which one I chose.

4.) So one little thing (or many, depending on the day) in my life didn't go as planned--it doesn't negate all the freaking awesome things in my life! If you line them up side by side, the good faaaaaaaaaaaar outweighs the bad. Even on crappy days.

Still, those conversations make me pause and wonder if I'm sometimes being a little bit too Pollyanna-ish and maybe giving the world a skewed perception of My Life With Ducks.


I just don't like negativity. Life's too short. My kids drive me crazy, but that melts away and all their cuteness and smartness and incredibleness is still there. Life is rough sometimes but I'll take it any day over the alternative. It might set your teeth on edge, but I truly, genuinely, deep-down-in-my-boots believe that happiness is a choice, and I choose it.

So, enjoy this one and only look at the dark side, because it's already fading, due largely to the unfailing kindness of Brain-Pain & the Divine Ms. B, who certainly count as one of the best evidences that God hasn't given up on me yet by sending friends like them. Throw in kids who sang me to sleep because my throat hurt too much to sing for them, and neighbors who sent over food for the kids, and Erynn, who stayed Sunday night when I.thought.I.was.going.to.die, and a few billion friends and family who called, texted, emailed, or sent up smoke signals to make sure that all was (relatively) well, and you can see just how high the good stacks up against the temporarily-bad.

Life might be crazy in the trenches, but it's the good kinda crazy.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Last night I gave in and let a couple of kiddos sleep in my bed. As expected, it wasn't the greatest sleep. At one point I ended up on the floor for a couple of hours; the rest of the time I spent being kicked, shoved, and thrashed on the edge of the bed.

Around 3am the daughter who was wedged tightly against me woke up to use the restroom. When she came back to bed she didn't go to sleep right away, but just lay awake, snuggled up to me, staring at the ceiling, eyes closing periodically, then opening again.

I lay next to her and just looked at her. It was one of those perfect 3am moments when you are just filled with love for this perfect little person, reveling in all the joy that she has brought into your life. Those of you who are parents know exactly what I'm talking about.

I held her close and looked at her and smiled at her and loved her. She'd open her big brown eyes and look back at me, and then her glance would slide away. I don't think it was just fatigue or the wee hours. I've noticed that as children get older, their eyes tend to slide away from the unabashed force of parental love.

When they were babies my kids ate it up. Watch a mother and a baby interact. Notice all the eye-to-eye contact, the huge smiles, the wonder on both faces. Parent and child are both totally, completely in love. They look into each others' eyes and faces and drink it all in.

Somehow that gets lost as they get older.

Those thoughts were going through my head last night at 3am. I was thinking how, even if she looks away, I'll still be looking at my baby girl with all that love. I was thinking how much I loved her when she was a brand new tiny baby on my lap, and how much I love her now that she's a big second grader, and how much I'll love her a year from now and a few decades from now, and that, just like I tell her all the time, even when she's a big grown up lady with babies of her own, she'll always be my baby. And I'll always look at her with love pouring out my eyes.

Then I thought of Someone Else who always looks at us that way, even when we slide our eyes away, or turn our head, or run away as fast as we can. I thought of Someone who understands a lot more about parenting than I do, and a lot more about the constancy of love and power of forgiveness and joy of mercy. I thought of Someone whose entire being and purpose is wrapped up in His children--our welfare and happiness His "work and glory."

I hugged my girl and loved my girl and let the 'light of my countenance shine upon her,' and I understood a little better just how much God loves me.

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.