When the day turns itself around

There was nothing poetic about this day. Nothing lyrical or dramatic. And this account of this day is none of that either. Sometimes, though, a messy reflection on a mess of events is the right way to remind yourself that nothing is exactly as it seems.

Like this day.

Judging by the start of the day, it was going to be long. Long and tiring. And potentially annoying. And definitely a little frustrating.

I woke up congested and exhausted. I’m not sleeping enough because I’m balancing the demands of two jobs right now. I am working all of the time, tethered to my email, worrying if I’ll miss a message or drop a ball. And our whole family has been sick, starting with my little daughter and working its way to me. As the other patients are on the mend, albeit with runny noses, I have been taken down by a sinus cold. I won’t ever be able to show a correlation between my lack of sleep and the strength of this sinus cold but I have a hunch that if I was sleeping more, I might be feeling better.

I remember nothing of my shower except that I didn’t want it to end. As I fixed my hair, my daughters woke up and wandered into my bathroom, acting like little sweethearts until we asked them to get dressed. Big sister whined about dressing herself, something she is fully capable of at almost six years of age. She wanted me to pick out her clothes. And little sister insisted on wearing tights with a dress. The whining and the fussing with tights pushed me closer to the edge.

Dressing a preschooler in tights is a special form of torture. Hell, putting myself in tights is pretty uncomfortable so trying to squeeze them into their little tights is a parenting feat. After trying on two pair of tights, rejecting them as she went (one was too itchy and one was too bumpy), she rejected the dress and tights concept entirely. At this moment, I started to wonder if the day was going to go my way or not. It was only 7:45am.

On the way downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast I remember that I left a leg of lamb to defrost on the counter. In my fatigue last night, I left the frozen package wrapped in butcher paper on the naked counter with nothing beneath it and walked into the kitchen to find a bloody mess, literally. Lamb blood pooled on the counter, dripped onto the floor, and ran under the refrigerator. I yelled for my husband who came down to feed the girls breakfast while I mopped everything up. I disinfected the area, washed hands, and quickly prepped the meat for the crock pot. Mixing together cumin, garlic, salt and paper, I hoped this dinner would turn out okay because I had no back up plan.

Miraculously, we managed to eat breakfast, pack lunches and backpacks. After weeks of being tightly wound and over-organized, we apparently fell apart last night, leaving all of the school prep for this already harried morning. I hustled  little one out the door and buckled her into the car.

The short drive to our Jewish Community Center to drop off little sister at preschool took three times as long because of a blinking red light at a huge four-way intersection. When I arrived at the JCC, I lost my temper searching for parking. We’ve had so much snow and parking is tight in this lot anyway. I completely lost my temper, however, when I missed on parking spot after spot because one particularly selfish parent parked in the fire lane and lurked until a space vacated–something I never do. I eventually settled for a spot in the far reaches of the parking lot and rushed my little daughter along and because I was rushing her, she tripped and fell. As I stared at her dear little face full of crocodile tears, I was immediately full of antipathy for that parking lot lurker. What makes people think they’re so special that they shouldn’t have to circle the parking four times like I did before parking in the outer reaches of the universe? I have a little one, too. I know it’s cold out. My shoes aren’t exactly comfy bedroom slippers. But I parked where I could find a spot fair and square. Deal with it.

I dropped my little daughter off, ranted to the preschool director about the parking lot, apologized for ranting, and trekked to my car. It’s not even 9am and I’ve had enough of this day. I call my husband to tell him how annoyed I am and at the end of my voicemail message I start to tear up. I’m crying and it’s not even 9am.

I call my work colleague after leaving my husband that teary message and she talks me down. Husband calls back and I tell him to delete the message. Then I drive 50 minutes to work where a big day awaits. There is a big budget announcement at the state legislature and it is my first day doing a quick analysis of the plan. Plus I’m prepping for a big meeting on the following day. Needless to say, I’m anxious and nervous. I grab a coffee (my first of the day) on the way into the office and after one sip, I feel calmer.

For the entire day, I am lost in my work. I am entirely focused on what I am doing. I’m learning new things, getting confused and unconfused, asking questions, stumbling through. I snuck in an afternoon coffee to fuel the second half of the day. It was a busy day full of questions and chatting and working and at the end of the day, I produced something. It’s a satisfying feeling to spend a day in the company of other people, working collaboratively and having something to show for it at the end of the day.

Not knowing what to expect with the day’s work, my husband was picking up our kids. I couldn’t bear a second trip the JCC in one day. I hustled out the door around 5pm and drove 50 minutes home, listening to podcasts and trying to calm the thoughts running through my head.

Finally home, I walked in to the house to the smell of lamb. My husband was standing in the kitchen unpacking backpacks, the girls were watching a show in the other room, and we had a minute to talk to each other. I made couscous, the girls came into the kitchen and we ate dinner together. Unlike several other dinner episodes, they actually ate some of their dinner (the lamb is only a big hit with the adults but they at least try a few bites and don’t complain). After dinner, big sister opened her Valentine’s Day cards from school–she was out sick last Friday and just picked them up in school today.

The kids dilly dally before bedtime and eventually get into bed, falling right asleep. I ran one last errand to get milk, wandering the aisles of the grocery in the sweatpants I slept in the night before, grabbing a few forgotten items and enjoying the quiet. Back home, I settled on the couch to clear out my inbox(es) and catch up on anything and everything.

I might be tired but I feel really good about this day. I just can’t believe how different the beginning of the day felt. I don’t know if I turned the day around or the day turned itself around. Either way, I am happy to go to bed exhausted and calm.

And tomorrow, we start all over again.

About rglw

Sociologist mom writes for work and for pleasure.
This entry was posted in everyday life, family and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When the day turns itself around

  1. allisonfine says:

    Honey I am quite a bit older than you (66) so I just want to mother you for a minute. All of this is just not worth it–SLOW DOWN! Life is short and before you know that little girl will be in medical school and treat you like shit! Or not. Just ignore you. Or blow you off! You need to appreciate and love the moments as you live them. Rushing, parking–all this stuff — so what if you are late! When you’re my age I guarantee you won’t be regretting the times you were late to work, you will be regretting rushing your little one so much she falls. Trust me on this one.

    • rglw says:

      This comment made my day. I hardly ever allow myself to mothered by anyone (except my sister) but you are totally right. And usually I am in the moment appreciating the smallest bits of life. I got lost this week but I assure you, I eventually got found, too. Thanks for reading and commenting! I needed that!

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