I started writing this Thursday. Had to finish it today. Which day it all happened is not really important.
Today was one of those days. The stuff nightmares are made of.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. The kids have all had runny noses. The temperatures outside got very low last night, and it’s only (as far as I’ve seen from my little thermometer at the window) gotten up to 6 degrees out there…in the SUN! Nikki woke up around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Her ear was hurting and she couldn’t sleep. So I searched the entire house and finally found our very last dose of Children’s Motrin. Then I warmed a salt compress for her to put on her ear and set her up to sleep on the couch. She seemed content so I headed back to bed.
At around 4:00 in the morning, I woke to Alasdair and Penny crying and coming down the stairs. I tried to meet them at the stairs to avoid the debate about whether or not we had room for two kids in bed with us. Penny walked past me saying that Alasdair wouldn’t stop coughing. She got into bed with Michael, while I picked up a soaking wet and badly shivering Alasdair.
He had wet the bed. Michael must have been much more out of it than I, because he couldn’t understand why Alasdair wouldn’t stop crying. Well, it was COLD in the house and he was soaking wet! I stripped him, washed him quickly with a warm cloth and threw him into my bed while I searched in the dark for pjs for him. Once he was dressed, I set him up to sleep on the other end of the couch from Nikki, and Penny just stayed in bed with us. Meanwhile, Michael had cleaned up the kids bed upstairs and left it to dry.
About 20 minutes after that, JB woke and wanted to nurse. Much earlier than usual, but I’d imagine all the noise we were making didn’t help. Well, that was a struggle. He was so stuffed up he couldn’t breathe and nurse at the same time. So he flopped around on our faces for a little while before I finally mustered the energy to get up and put him back in his bed.
Maybe a half hour later, Alasdair was at my bedside, asking for something to eat. And I dreamed that Michael had gotten up to get him something. When Alasdair was back at my bedside whining again, I was shocked to find Michael still in bed with no memory of getting up to get him anything. The next hour was a pitiful series of children’s requests and my fetching them things and then trying to fall back asleep. By the time I finally gave up and got out of bed, I had a pounding headache.
We decided Nikki should see the doctor about her ear, and an eye infection that doesn’t seem to be improving despite her protests that she was feeling better now. I set the appointment and when it was time to go, we went to get in the van, the sliding doors wouldn’t open (frozen shut from the extreme temps!). I pushed the buttons a few times and could hear clicks but nothing happened. Then I just had Nikki climb over my seat to get to the back. We were already leaving a little late.
When I put the van in reverse it started beeping at me. The doors were not latched anymore. But even with pushing the doors manually, I couldn’t get them to latch. Finally, with a lot of work, I managed to get one of the doors to latch, but the other would not. And Michael said when he drives it now, it slides open. We tried a lot of things all afternoon, but nothing has worked.
I had to cancel the appointment. And I know it’s not the worst thing that could happen to us. But, ever since last winter, when we had all the plumbing issues, and I know that with the super low temps the gas bill will be really high…and now that we have payments we have to make on the van, I throw myself into a full fit of anxiety. It starts with imagining the worst case scenario, then imagining all the bills I have to pay being like people standing at my door with their hand out.
Before I knew it, it was well past lunch time, and the kids were cranky and hungry and thirsty, and needy! And aaargh!!! I could feel my heart rate get faster and I just felt so helpless. But I had a headache (still!) and hadn’t eaten anything either. I was shaking and about to lose it.
But I’m doing this “Orange Rhino Challenge” – you know, no yelling at your kids? In her book, Yell Less, Love More, Sheila McCraith mentions that she realized she could stop yelling when she knew she had an audience. But what helped her to stop yelling at her kids was to realize that they were the most important audience.
How true is that? It’s not my kids fault that everything annoying happened on this one day. It’s not their fault that I was so distracted with solving other problems that I forgot to feed them lunch on time. It’s not their fault that they’re under the weather (well, if they licked the floor at all…that might be their fault).
My kids watch me when things get stressful. If I start yelling and lose my cool, I’m sure they don’t feel secure. Nikki already gets a lot of anxiety about our cars because of all the breakdowns and resulting temper tantrums from Mommy. And I wonder why little things agitate her so much and why she blows them so far out of proportion.
It’s me. She learned it from me.
But the sky is not falling. The van is not ruined (even if there will be an expensive repair resulting). The kids are not so ill they need to be hospitalized right now.
Today, putting it into even more perspective, I discovered that my cousin and her husband are going through a very difficult time right now and are faced with watching their daughter through her last days on this earth. Please pray for them.
All that to say: just love your kids. Protect them. Don’t make them cope with all your stress. Teach them what truly matters. Count your blessings. Thank God for what He has done for you and given you.
They are the most important and attentive audience you will ever have. They will carry on your memory when you are gone. They know when you fail. They learn from you how to pray. They learn from you how to ask for help. They learn from you how to forgive and ask forgiveness. They learn from you to have gratitude. They learn from you not to despair. They learn from you how to love. Love them.