Oh, friends. This was not the best day. On the surface, there wasn’t a single thing wrong. It was one of those days that, when detailed on Facebook, makes it looks like our life is all rainbows and cotton candy. It started with a family breakfast of homemade gluten-free waffles and applewood smoked bacon. “This is the most delicious brunch you ever made, Mama!” Practically cherubic. Then I did the dishes and The Who and I headed out for a couple of errands, including a car wash and a trip to the farmer’s market in the homey little college town nearby, but not before spending some time in our little garden, weeding and watering and sampling the sweet snap peas that we harvested. Then we hit the Lego Store after grabbing a quick lunch in the food court. We played for a while, stopped into the tea store to get an infusing carafe, and then zipped back home. I dropped The Who off with m*, did a solo grocery-shop, and came back to an already-fed boy, quietly watching a show. No camp = no bath, so it was a quick brush and floss and then off to bed. On paper, it sounds so perfect, it should almost have been in black and white.
Yeah. Well. Here’s the non-Facebook version:
That breakfast? It was made well before 9am, which is not at all what I intend for my weekends. In the summer, I am up at 5:30 on weekdays and I look forward to sleeping in as late as I want on Saturdays (and nearly as late on Sundays.) I am lucky enough to have a gracious wife who, without complaint, spends hours on weekend mornings playing with The Who and never gives me any crap about sleeping in, no matter how late it is. But this morning, when I rolled over at 7ish, intending to go right back to sleep, I caught a few snippets of the morning play conversation from downstairs and I could sense that something was off. (I later learned that m* had had a terrible night’s sleep and wasn’t feeling well, which explained the exhaustion and frustrations I had heard in her voice.) I realized that instead of the leisurely, snoozey Saturday that we had last weekend, today I’d be on-duty, so I started planning some activities. When I ran my suggestions by The Who for his consideration, he approved them all and added homemade waffles on top. So, yeah. Waffles.
Making the waffles went as well as could be expected with a new-to-me waffle iron and a gluten-free recipe that called for egg whites beaten into stiff peaks and yielded a runny batter that spilled out onto the countertop with each batch. They were the thinnest, flimsiest waffles I’d ever seen, but they tasted good. So, at least there was that.
The garden part? Well, that actually was as idyllic as it sounded. Sunny and harvesty and it made me feel like a good mom to have my kid in the yard watering the vegetables we had grown from seedling. Plus, and also: hose-drinks.
The car wash. Well. You know, the car wash was fine at first look. But the whole day was peppered with so much whining and short-fused reaction (on both of our parts) that even an activity that is usually simple and fun for both of us yielded complaints, injuries, and threats. I apparently nearly “sucked up his sneakers” with the vacuum. He refused to move out of the way. I moved the front seat forward too quickly and he bumped his knee. I didn’t let him help enough. He didn’t want to have to do it all. He was thirsty, he informed me, “but not for something that has no taste.” It occurred to then that maybe he was hungry, even though we had just finished breakfast not long before and he had an interim snack. I asked him if anything hurt, flashing back to last July 4th when he spent a week whining and then busted out a few days of an inexplicable fever. He said nothing hurt, though he did cop to the hunger, which is why we drove across town to the farmer’s market in search of lunch.
But, the farmer’s market was a complete waste of time. Four or five little stalls with nothing terribly exciting, save some beautiful-looking beets that I contemplated bringing home, but didn’t. It seemed to me that the last time I was at this market, it was huge. Full of vendors and people and activity. This is not late-season. This is prime. Where was everyone? It was practically deserted. So, with Sir Whinesalot in tow, we walked hand-in-hand up the street for a coffee and a juice. This is when the “why” questions hit fever pitch. M* reminded me tonight, as I recounted the day, how he defaults to “why” when he is tired. And how my tolerance for them disappears when I am tired. It was a bad mix and we should have stayed at home in our jammies — except I’m not sure that would have been any better.
In the car after the market, we tried to hammer out a deal. I would strive to be more patient and kind and he would try to do less pushing of my buttons. We always work to come up with solutions like this when our day is falling off track and usually it works. Not talking about it is like ignoring the elephant in the room. He knows I’m not fun to be with and I know that I don’t want to hear one more single word out of his mouth ever. Generally doing a record-scratch stop-and-reboot can turn the whole day around.
Not so today. (Despite a valiant effort on both of our parts.)
At the Lego store, I discovered that they had taken the little chairs away from the build table because they were a “tripping hazard.” It’s very hard to be a tall person building at a short table, which meant that I couldn’t do much playing there, despite his pleas for me to join him. I leaned down a few times, tried to chit-chat about the pieces, and helped him search for some, but it was uncomfortable at best and I just counted the minutes until it was reasonable to leave. Also: the lights in that store blazed overhead in low-hung chandeliers and it was hot. Who ever heard of a mall-store being hot in the summer? Aren’t mall-stores kind of known for their practically offensive overuse of air conditioning in the summer?
The rest of the day’s events went pretty much the same as the first part’s. Although I dropped The Who at home and grocery shopped solo, I was still not on my game. I had to call m* from Aisle 4 because I couldn’t remember if she liked hot or mild peppers after ten years of buying the same thing. I visited and left and visited the same aisle three different times for three different things because I kept forgetting all that I needed. I looked at a bag of “Fried Pork Skin” and read it quickly as something much more graphic and disgusting by swapping the beginning letters in my delirium.
And then when it was finally time for bed, even the tooth-brushing and pajama-donning was fraught. There was more whining. There was the threat and then follow-through of the removal of a bedtime story.
And then there was talking after we said our goodnights and our I-love-yous. “Mama, I am tired but I can’t sleep.” Try counting to 100. “Mama, why am I wearing underwear to bed instead of jammies?” You’re not. “But it looks like –” You’re NOT. I started to have my years-old Personal Parental Violence Fantasytm (snapping his arms off and stuffing them in his mouth) but lucky for him: a) I would never do that (duh) and b) m* fielded the rest of his questions while I just sat there and seethed at life.
I am a big believer in tomorrow being a better day. I am an optimist and I always believe in turning things around. And although I had a moment of dread as m* got ready to go to bed, thinking about doing it all over tomorrow, then I remembered that tomorrow I will be with three friends and their kids. And sunshine. And a swimming pool. And I flashed on these tiny moments from earlier this morning. Even in the rain, there can be a rainbow.
Here’s to a better tomorrow.