Last Friday began with two luxurious hours by myself at Starbucks, yet by two o’clock I was still crying frustrated, discouraged tears. And it’s all because I cleaned out the craft closet.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. For a few days I’d been almost-despairing, feeling completely defeated by the chaos in my home and the never-met needs of my small children.
A bit melodramatic, I acknowledge, but still. I mop the floor while the baby throws food down from his high chair. I get the laundry put away only because I need the basket to empty the dryer. I pull the child out of the bathtub and set him on the rug while the water drains, only to find that he’s made a puddle of tee-tee and crawled through it, before the bath water has even been toweled off of his chubby legs. I walk across the kitchen to put away the broom and dust pan and feel crumbs sticking to my feet. I sweep and mop sixteen times a day and still I turn my back for a second and return to find the baby chowing down on a piece of banana from this morning’s breakfast fling.
I’m thankful for my kids, I’m thankful to be home with them in these little years, I’m thankful for a helpful husband in my home. I know so many people would gladly walk in my shoes for a day. But there still are some days when I don’t think I can put one foot in front of the other one more time.
I imagine that no one can understand the total pointlessness of my daily routine, except maybe a person who manually resets pins at a bowling alley (thank you for the idea, Sara Groves). But even those guys get to go off the clock sometime, right?
What about the craft cabinet, you ask? Well it was a big mess, and I was in a mood to conquer. But I still had that nagging sense of futility lurking underneath my burst of productive energy, and I became overwhelmed as I pulled out a bunch of half-finished craft projects and spread them across the dining table. It felt like a monument to a four-year-old’s short attention span, and I took each abandoned project as a personal insult to my creative efforts. As I sorted through and organized our supplies, I collected a graveyard of dried-up glue sticks, broken crayons, and used-up sticker pages. In that emotional moment, it felt like heavy symbolism, and no, I did not melt the crayon fragments into shape molds to express the hope of redemption.
After a while, the table was finally clear again and the cabinet was restored to order, but while I was working on that little task, Jem had found my cache of plastic dishware and had strewn all the pieces around the kitchen floor. I found him sitting amid the mess, munching on something he had found in a dark corner, which I was afraid to even investigate.
Sniffing back self-pitying tears, I shuffled to the bathroom to blow my nose.
Can you guess where this is going?
The toilet paper roll was empty. I had to change it out before I could even sit down in the bathroom to wallow in a good cry.
These are the kind of moments no one puts on Instagram. After a day like this, you read one of those “cherish the little years” blog posts from a mom whose kids are in school all day long and you want to rabbit punch your computer. Even when you know all the right things (and even when you’ve written inspirational blog posts about them!), it’s a daily battle to really believe the truth, deep down, when the rubber meets the road.
I did eventually pull myself together. I spent an hour in the sunshine and the fresh air. My mom took Abby home with her to spend the night. I got lots of sweet smiles from the little saboteur himself that melted away my resentment. And after a nap-less afternoon, he went to bed early, leaving me alone in a quiet house with some Blue Bell ice cream and my Mindy Kaling book to keep me company.
(After I finished the book, and the pint of ice cream, I was feeling so good I cleaned out my closet before going to bed. And that felt good, too.)
Friends, don’t you know: Life is sweet, and life is hard. And tomorrow is another day.