I took the dog for a walk and tried without much success to bring some sense of order to the house, quickly becoming overwhelmed as I tend to do. Nothing got done and the piles of papers and school books loomed. Hampers overflowed. The washer and dryer were full. The cat threw up a massive hair ball. You get the picture. Nothing earth shattering or noteworthy happened, but the trivial hassles were piling up and grating on my patience.
Consistent with the theme of the day, The bus was late dropping my four year old home, which meant I was late getting to my eight year old's homeschool class to complete my clean up duties. Since his musical theater class started this same afternoon (why is everything always on Mondays?) we made the forty-five minute trek to the church facilitating the class. When we pulled into the parking lot (you guessed it - late), A was not budging from the car. He was tired, his allergies were flaring, and he had convinced himself his stomach was sick again. After ten more minutes of cajoling, I gave up and we were driving toward home. The four year old began to cry because, why not?
By the time we got home A had diagnosed himself with every known illness. Do you see why he's in theater? I told him to put hi pajamas on. His brother wanted pajamas too. I declared a movie night. Camped out on the couch with blankets and stuffed animals, they watched as I scrolled through the free on demand movies, debating about the validity of super heros and the entertainment value of various animated characters. Finally, they agreed on Curious George Christmas. I wasn't going to be the one to point out that it was September.
While the puppy tried to steal blankets and stuffed animals, I looked at the clock and realized I had no dinner plans. I opened the refrigerator to make an unfortunate discovery. The raw chicken defrosting in there had somehow leaked on the bottom shelf and into the drawers. I closed the refrigerator, washed my hands, and busted out the popcorn popper to buy myself sometime before the hunger monster struck. My four year old when he's hungry's got nothing on salmonella, people!
I may have slightly overloaded the popcorn popper, which started to smoke in protest. I'm pretty sure that's not supposed to happen, but I managed to serve up a big bowl of freshly popped popcorn. To the boys' delight, I even tossed the "no eating in the family room" rule to the wind.
As I disinfected the refrigerator and snuck peeks of my kids (and the dog) eating mouthfuls of popcorn at 6:00 P.M., My inner voice began. Don't you just love her?
"This is a shit day," I thought. "We were late to everything, A missed his first theater class and now he'll probably get a leftover part, and he can only miss two for the session. Should I have made him go? He's not really sick. Am I sending the message that it's okay to not honor your commitments? Why didn't I put this chicken in an extra bag? Look at them eating popcorn for dinner, and no bath! I really failed today."
In the midst of my inner monologue, my four year old suddenly came running into the kitchen. He wrapped his pajama clad arms around my legs. I looked down at his smiling face. Then he said the words that changed my whole perception. "Thank you, Mom, for the special night."
Before I could respond, E was racing back to the family room to catch up with George and his Christmas shenanigans. I stopped. I looked at the evening from his eyes. He was safe and warm in cozy pajamas watching a special movie with his favorite blanket, his brother, and his puppy. He was eating popcorn in the family room and no one was concerned with crumbs or a spoiled appetite.
What I saw as failing on my part he saw as making the night special. I hope he will remember it that way. If only we could always see things through the innocent, joyful eyes of young children. Often my children are the ones teaching me without even knowing it.
I leaned an important life lesson: Sometimes a mom's shit day is a child's special night.