On Thursday evening the husband left for a rugby alumni weekend at our alma mater, in the old home state. With the little sister working weekends in Georgetown now, that left me and the little oyster and Dietrich to have a weekend together.
I really wish I could say I enjoyed every minute. I was planning to! But I didn’t. And I realized, thankfully before the weekend was over, that my perspective on things was the culprit.
On Saturday morning the oyster, Dietrich and I went for a four-mile walk on the Mt. Vernon Trail with a friend and old neighbor. Since these neighbors moved down the road we haven’t seen them much and it was past time for me and L to catch up. She met the three of us at the condo and we set off. The walk was wonderful, the weather divine, and the conversation excellent. A great way to start a restful weekend.
When we got home, the little oyster started a 24 Hour Wailfest. None of us had slept well the night before and I was tired from the walk and really banking on her napping. But no amount of holding, putting down, feeding, not feeding, diaper changing, sleeping, not sleeping, shushing, would fix whatever grievous wrong sent her over the edge. Speaking of the edge, once the little oyster went over it, I wasn’t far behind.
My plans to clean the kitchen, wash the floors and vacuum, catch up on laundry, put away winter clothes, rearrange the linen closet, enjoy the day chatting at my baby, etc., etc., etc., were dashed against the rocks of reality and psuedo-colic.
By the end of the day I was literally pulling at my hair. Which, of course, hadn’t been washed that day. Weren’t the days of sleep deprivation and abbreviated personal hygiene supposed to be things of the past? Woe to me.
As we entered the evening hours and my bebe continued to fuss and my house went uncleaned and my patience wore so thin it blistered, I knew something had to give. I had been offering up exasperated prayers all day, asking for God to please just make her stop crying, please just let her sleep, please just let her calm down, please let her let me put her down long enough to unload the dishwasher. Nein.
When the little sister texted to ask what I was having for dinner and without batting an eye I replied “tears of frustration,” I realized something had to give.
Well this is mature, I told myself. Why are you so upset? The little oyster is still new to this world and she doesn’t know how to handle everything that comes her way. Why are you so mad about this day?
BECAUSE I GOT NOTHING DONE THAT I WANTED TO GET DONE. That’s why.
Wow. When I said it out loud I realized the selfishness inherent in my day’s plans. Is it selfish to want a clean house? No, of course not. Is it selfish to want my baby to nap? Not at all. But if parenthood has taught me anything I should have learned by now that what I want to get done in a day and what I can realistically get done in a day are often at stark odds. Especially when I have a list a year long and I’m the only one home to take care of the baby and the dog and the dishes. Especially when another sleepless night looms ahead of me and it’s Saturday and the husband won’t be home until Monday.
My perspective was off. I was upset that I was so tired, nothing had gone my way, and I had nothing to show for my day.
Nothing to show for my day? Because the floor hadn’t been washed? Because I hadn’t run the dishwasher?
My internal dialogue was making me sound like an ass.
In a flash of clarity, I realized my perspective was at fault. I was judging things by the wrong standard, exacerbating an already tense day. The old adage that we can’t control our circumstances but we can control how we respond to them hit me with a truth bomb.
Maybe “How many things did you cross off your to do list today?” isn’t the best, or even a good, way to judge a day, especially as a parent with obligations outside myself.
Maybe a better question to ask is “Is there something in my life that is better off now than it was at the beginning of this day?”
To that I was able to say yes. And it wasn’t the state of my household. But that morning I had a wonderful, refreshing, and necessary walk and talk with a friend. It was good for the body and soul. That relationship, put by the wayside for many months, was better off at the end of the day than it had been when I woke up
at 4:10 am. That means my day wasn’t wasted. That means I was looking at things wrong. Perspective. I needed some and I got some.
And guess what? When I was able to count the day as a success by a different measure, God flooded me with patience for the sad little lady who had no such capacity to reassess her day. For her, the day really did suck. And when I got over feeling bad for myself, I felt bad for her. So we spent the rest of the day snuggling and poo-pooing the dishwasher that wouldn’t unload itself and could just wait until another day.
That night the little oyster and I both slept better, almost well. We forgot it was Sunday until well past the 9:00 start time for our church service and stayed in our jammies for most of the morning. I did laundry, the oyster napped at her usual time, and we went to Georgetown to see the little sister.
Sunday was a success by the same standard as Saturday–not only did I get housekeeping things done, improving the state of my household, but the little oyster slept better, improving her mood, and we had a great day hanging out together, in Georgetown, at Target, and at home. I got to know my incredible daughter better this weekend. Total success.
(The picture at the top of this post is a serious #momfail. In the dishwasher that taunted me all weekend was this teething toy, one of the oyster’s favorites. Apparently it wasn’t dishwasher safe. Maybe it’s best I didn’t discover it until Sunday afternoon, when I was mentally prepared to handle such carnage. I do not believe the teething ring would count this weekend as a success. Sads.)