I had another bad day on Wednesday. I woke up at 3 a.m. with a raging head cold and couldn’t get back to sleep.
When my kids woke up, they were both a little under the weather and cranky. My son fussed all through math. I yelled at him. My daughter threw a fit when I asked her to get ready to go to the gym. I yelled at her.
When I got to the gym for my prenatal yoga class, I realized I had mixed up the times and shown up just as it ended. I yelled at myself (inside my head, of course). But make lemonade, right? (And you know me, I’m soooo good at that.)
Since it was sunny, I took my kids to the park instead. Jack lay on the bench the entire time we were there, said his tummy hurt. So we came home and suddenly he felt fine—fine enough to run around the house with his Lego starship and scream the Darth Vader theme at the top of his lungs, while his sister ran away from him, shrieking. I yelled that I had a headache and go to your room and be quiet NOW!
My babysitter called and said she was sick and wouldn’t be able to come in the afternoon, which meant I wasn’t going to be able to meet with my spiritual director, and on this day of all days, I needed to meet with her.
At 4:30 my friend who was coming for dinner called to say she wouldn’t be coming after all; she was sick, too.
At 5, Doug called and said he wouldn’t be home at 7 like he thought but closer to 8:30. I hung up on him.
At 7:45, instead of staying in their beds, my kids started chasing each other around the house screaming like banshees. I completely lost my head and yelled at them—again— then started weeping, terrified by the prospect of adding two more children to my life. I can’t handle two kids. What am I going to do with four?
Jack and Jane crept back to bed and stayed there, quiet. I felt like a jerk.
The pity party I’d been having all day gave way to self-loathing, and the nasty voices in my head got really loud: “Oh, the poor privileged princess didn’t have her nanny today. Wah. She has two healthy young children and is pregnant with two more. We should play our tiny violin for her, poor thing. To have so much abundance when some people who want children can’t have them, and some people who have them don’t have the means to care for them—it must be rough, this life she lives.” And on and on until I felt about as big as a pea and wanted to crawl into bed and never get out.
And then, by the grace of God, I realized—or remembered—something. In all my self-pity and self-loathing, my focus was on … me. The only way to get out of this nasty spiral was to look outward, to look upward. I stared out the kitchen window as I washed the dinner dishes, and I prayed.
“Thank you, God, for warm water. For my dishwasher. For my children. For my husband who will be home any moment. Thank you that You don’t see me the way the voices in my head see me, that You love me even on days like today, when I feel utterly unlovable…”
The list of things to be grateful for went on and on, until by the time I went to bed, I felt okay, like maybe the day hadn’t been a complete loss, like maybe there was hope for me, for my kids, for our family, our future.
And there was. There is.