Some Mondays aren’t the best. This particular one was teeth-grindingly bad. It just so happened that this Monday was also my birthday, which added to my abounding self-pity. Birthdays really shouldn’t matter so much to grown-ups. Just because you wake up on your official DOB doesn’t mean you carry a special florescent glow that mandates people give you free coffee and stickers. I will say, however, that at least in the working world someone buys you a Starbucks, or there’s a cake in the break room. When you’re a stay-at-home type, who happened to buy yourself a new camera for her own present, it’s just any other day and your main goal is for the kids to eat their carrots.
I felt bad about whining about my no-good, boring birthday to a girlfriend, until she reminded me that she knew. She knew my life was blessed and full and rich and wonderful, and that it’s okay to have bad days. I told her this day was ridiculously awful, aside from my family being healthy and us having a comfortable living with clothing and food and love and homemade bread and leftovers and an amazing life. Shoes on our feet and a belly full of organic turkey breast? Blessings schmessings.
So here was my day. No one was diagnosed with a brain tumor or broke an arm, but still.
- My husband left for work early. My son fell out of his crib and I awoke to the sound of his sobbing face, covered in snot, screaming next to my pillow.
- I tried to wake my daughter, who “needed some time” and didn’t want to be disturbed. Okay, royal highness.
- I had three hours of child care for the 2-year-old, so I rushed to get a pedicure with my daughter at an upscale boutique. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t stand around for a million hours looking at nail polish colors and couldn’t have a certain oversized ring that looks like a rose.
- We headed to the bank. “Oh my gosh, it’s your birthday!” the teller gushed. “Here’s a lollipop!” I guess the glare in the drive-in-window disguised my birthday glow as that of an anxious three-year old, because it’s been a long time since a lollipop was that thrilling. But I’ll take it. Things are looking up.
- I picked up my son. He ate said lollipop and his entire mouth turned blue. What is this stuff – trick candy?
- We headed to a friend’s house so my daughter could apologize to my friend’s child for saying hurtful words during a play date over the weekend. We finally get that fun chore out of the way. Sorry is said/hugs to be had. Victory!
- We head home, whereby my mother has called to sing me Happy Birthday. Only she and my Dad are in Kansas and the phone keeps cutting out.
- I try for a solid hour to get my son to take a nap. He giggles and cries and wrangles and twists and I almost use brut force to tie him to the bed. Finally, I gave up and looked forward to a fun afternoon with an exhausted toddler. What a great birthday present! Better than dirty diapers!
- I went to buy a real mattress for my son, who clearly needs something besides the crib since he’s looking like a future linebacker. It costs more than I planned. There goes all my spending money.
- The mattress was being delivered that afternoon, and during the seven minute interval by which I was vacuuming his room in prep for the mattress, my son discovered a truck-load of permanent markers somewhere in his sister’s room (who put those in there?) and colored his entire hand, arm, and part of the carpet green.
- I was so mad when I saw the green carpet I threw the markers across the room and might have yelled. I’m fairly certain I yelled. Oh yeah. I yelled.
- I gave myself a time-out on the front porch to calm down. I sucked down a sparkling water. Should have made it beer, the more I think about it.
- I headed back in and decided I need to embrace the craziness. If you can’t beat em, join em. Want a popcicle? Sure! Want fruit smoothies for dinner? Why not? We all sang a rousing version of “Do, Re, Me” while I folded socks and towels.
- Things are really looking up when I sneak spinach and flax seed in the smoothies when the kids aren’t looking. Does spinach equal out the marker throwing? Does the singing void out all the yelling?
- My daughter spilled the entire smoothie on her white t-shirt. Panic ensues that the stain will never come out, since this is a tried-and-true favorite tee. My son follows suit with the spillage. Blueberry pomegranate sludge covers my front porch. Both kids are hosed off. The porch is hosed off. I wish I could hose off my bad mood.
- I decide baths are in order, whereby my expensive organic bath gel somehow ends up in the tub and is half-full of water. Why do I leave these things at arms-reach?
- I put my son to bed. He’s wiped.
- I read a thousand chapters of Nancy Drew to my daughter, who keeps begging for more. She finally pleads for a back scratch in the whiniest voice I’ve ever heard. I tell her it’s my freaking birthday and I’m done with all her incessant demands. She throws a crazy fit by standing up, saying “hmph” really loudly, stomping, and crossing her arms.
- My daughter loses television privileges as a natural consequence of her bad choice. I told her one more outburst and the Polly Pocket dolls were headed to Goodwill.
- I fold more laundry. I eat a peanut butter sandwich. I’m no longer singing show tunes, and I haven’t had one single piece of cake.
- My husband calls and says he’s getting home really late due to a pending work deadline. Super double awesome.
- I call my mother-in-law and remind her it was my birthday, since she had clearly forgotten.
- Time for bed! Here’s to Tuesday!
I recently gave a speech whereby I told a group of ladies that when horrible things happen, take a step back and find the funny. There is always, for certain, without a doubt, funny things that bubble up from tragedies. I was thinking of real tragedies, like death or cancer or car accidents. But bad birthdays count. The more I think about it, they so count.
So here’s to funny. To the yelling and spilling. The singing and cleaning up. Regretful and glorious moments of motherhood are all wrapped up in a shiny birthday package, with a ribbon that reads “There’s always tomorrow! Thank God for tomorrow!”
Tonight, I prayed out loud with my daughter. I asked God to grant me more patience and to still my anger. For my daughter to be more selfless, and to develop a heart of gratitude. Mostly I just thanked God for our beautiful life. For so many rich blessings. They don’t come in packages, tied up with string. We don’t deserve them. And yet we are surrounded by so many. As I write this, my two kids are sleeping and my laundry is done. My fingers fly over the keys like an old friend. I have so many people in my life that I love and cherish. I have the privilege of being a servant.
Next year on my birthday, I’m making pineapple smoothies. At least they don’t stain. That’s my new goal for birthday success. Let’s shoot for small victories. . .