Oh, for self-control!
Oh, to be seated in an internal control room supremely above the constant input of minor catastrophe and frenzied activity that requires Mommy’s energy. Oh, to untiringly receive such input and calmly and wisely release gentle and appropriate output to meet it. Oh, for unflappability.
One of the best fragments of advice that I remember from my university education involved a mental ladder. “As a teacher, when you get into a challenging situation or feel your emotions rising, get out a ten-foot imaginary ladder,” said the professor. “Climb slowly to the top and then peer down on the situation below as though you are not involved in it. Think to yourself: how should the teacher respond in this scenario? And then respond that way.” During my years of teaching middle schoolers, I found this advice extremely helpful. But since I became a mother to multiple young children, I seem to have mislaid my imaginary ladder. Did I inadvertently leave it in my last classroom, leaning up against the whiteboard?
Once again, I should have known that today was not destined to be one for future fond remembrance when I woke this morning at seven to hear that sometime in the early hours Harriet had at last discovered her diaper and poop was smeared everywhere. I maintained a calm demeanor as I cheerfully cleaned it up. Well done Mommy, but the day had just begun.
Today Norah has a fever, Harriet has a cough, and both are tired and almost as irritable as I am. I am sore, exhausted, and busy. I am being tested for gestational diabetes, am losing mobility from the increasing sciatic nerve pain, and have broken out in a red itchy rash all over myself. On a doctor’s advice, I ingested antihistamines for this last night, then discovered they are not recommended in pregnancy. This morning around 10:30 things came to a crisis. In a stunning and unexpected potty-training regression Norah released a half gallon of urine into the university furniture. While dealing with it I had recourse to Mommy’s best survival technique: put everyone in bed. I plopped Harriet in the pack & play (she fortunately does not know she can climb out of it) and a scrubbed Norah into her bed. I gave Harriet the beloved wooden dollhouse to keep her busy. While I cleaned the Scene, Harriet somehow managed to smash the dollhouse into two big splintery pieces. While I cleaned that up, I remembered that I had left the laundry (across the backyard) too long and it needed to go into the dryer. Leaving the girls *gasp* alone, I ran all the way back there and found our wet clothes scattered about the room as someone was in a hurry for the machine. On returning I accidentally slammed the heavy door on my foot, scraping a deep gouge into my big toe.
Throughout most of the above exciting scene, Mommy Royally Lost It. I wish I had been calm and wise in my release of output. I wish I had taken time to climb my ladder.
*sigh* I’m glad God is so much more gracious than I am. Now to begin again.