My gran died. My car was stolen and my house broken into and robbed. We went to the States and I had horrible culture shock. Then as soon as we returned to England the you-know-what hit the fan. We've missed so many days of school that I've started hiding from the head teacher. Bridger and Caid and I sick as dogs and Scott out of town a ton. Night after night of 3 or 4 hours of sleep total. Mornings of rolling over and having to tell my just-turned-six-year-old that I'm too sick to fix him breakfast, let alone drive him to school. Caid caught impetigo perhaps because--in spite of repeated admonishments of "stop touching everything!" and "buddy that has germs!" he still was caught licking the pole on the subway. Heebie jeebies aside, I've been too tired and sick to hose the house down with bleach no matter how much I wanted to. Add to that the fact that they misdiagnosed it the first time at the doctor's office as 'dry skin' and well...you get the idea.
Just as things were starting to look up, I got lost about 6 times on my way to get Christmas presents for everyone Stateside this week so I could ship them on time. Then when I finally got to the shopping center I spent half an hour trapped in a parking garage just LOOKING for a parking space. Did I mention how narrow and tight these parking garages are here? Can I just tell you how many hundreds of people were in front of me not to mention behind me? If Caid had not been in the car and therefore I HAD to stay calm--serious panic attack. As it was I had to use my carefully practiced labor breathing techniques. Thank god I'm a doula!
My house is a wreck. There's so much laundry that even my oldest boy has resorted to going 'commando' (that's pretty much the younger one's m.o.). This is a bad sign as he owns, well, a lot of pairs of underwear. If they're all dirty it's been a long, long time since I've done laundry. Every day someone says, "Mom? I can't find any..." I'm getting a little tired of saying, "They're dirty! You'll have to go without today!"
I keep trying and trying to get a grip. Trying and trying to let myself off the hook--we've all, including me, been super sick. What do I expect? Clearly a spotless house, perfectly healthy/clean/cheerful children and everything in its place. Including my waistline. Loving adding that to the list of "things not going well." Let's just say I'm wearing a lot of pants with elastic waistbands these days.
Scott was in Germany most of this last week. I felt like I was coping pretty well. Then we went into the city for a "Christmas day." I was picturing tinsel on all the trees. Lights and greenery decorating every store. Carolers on every corner. I know it's corny and cheesy, but I really thought it would be just ridiculously festive. We arrived at the Houses of Parliament to a big protest rally. Trafalgar Square's tree was big, but that was about it. We had a blast playing on the lions, but our camera's battery died when we tried to take a family photo. We maybe should have just called it then. The Covent Garden light display--critically hailed by all--turned out to be a very 80's sort of...um...I don't know. The boys thought the 'light sabers' were cool, let me put it that way. Our food was cold, I couldn't find the trains I really wanted to buy for my nephew. The weirdo Christmas carnival in Hyde Park was pretty fun but kind of weirdly out of context. Think Montana State Fair on the lawn of Buckingham Palace. Bizarre.
So basically when Bridger started sobbing this morning because one of his 15 new Batman tattoos didn't quite work out right and had to be thrown away I lost it. Scott was on a run. Bridger was sobbing. I just thought, "you spoiled rotten little brat! It's ONE freaking tattoo--you have 14 left! Choose another one!" But no...there he is, sobbing, "I'd ask for some more for Christmas, but that would take so lo-o-o-o-ong!" I'm not going to lie to you, it was one of those 'shoot me and put me out of my misery' moments. At the time, I couldn't figure out why it made me so mad. I just knew I pretty much wanted to wring his selfish little neck.
So I promptly gave myself a time out and told everyone I wasn't coming out of my room until I was ready to be sweet.
I'm not proud of the fact that it took me nearly 4 hours to come out of there. I was just so mad. I started furiously composing an email on the great and horrid injustice of my life when eventually I had my 'aha' moment. It's amazing how angry a selfish little boy will make a selfish mama. Sigh.
See, I have all this baggage that makes me feel like I have to help everyone be cheerful and everything run smoothly. It made a lot of sense when I bought the set. Honestly, it did! The unfortunate thing that baggage makes me decide now though is that everyone always ought to be cheerful and everything always ought to run smoothly. So when it doesn't...well the s**t hits the fan. The baggage has become far too cumbersome.
So after this realization hit I took myself on a good long walk. I wore my comfiest fuzzy fleece pants. I snuggled up in my puffy down vest. I strapped on my favorite tennies. Then I took my time. I watched the men playing golf in the fog and the frost. I stopped and checked out the neighbors' gardens with their perfectly frozen flowers. I squished through the mud on the football pitch nearby. I bought myself a Christmas mug and some cute Christmas napkins. I cried a little. Then I came home and decided I was going to be sweet even if I couldn't be cheerful.
The funniest thing happened. I started wrapping presents and playing with my little boys. I made them laugh and giggle--not because I needed them to be cheerful, but because it was fun and I wanted to. All the sudden I found some cheer. Not the obligatory kind either. The genuine, deeply felt happiness. The feeling you read about in all of the best Christmas books. Where the snow falls and the fire crackles and everyone is happy and in love.
There's no snow here in this part of England. So far it just rains a ton. There's not much for Christmas lights around and my stockings are hung above the radiator. There's a couple of super fun little boys here though and a husband who loves me very much. I don't know when I'm going to get the laundry done. I hope we don't catch any more infections or diseases on account of me not having cleaned the house. Regardless though, I've decided. I want to be sweet. I'll be cheerful when I can. And I'm going to try my darndest to let go of the need for things to go smoothly. Clearly holding on to that need does in no way make them go any smoother! As far as I can tell, the best route there is thankfulness. Who knows, maybe it'll even rub off on the 6 year old.