Friday, January 11, 2013

Just one of those days

Not every day goes swimmingly around here, and I certainly am not the model of calmness and rational parenting. In order to try to be honest about what life looks like, both the good and the bad, I wanted to share my day yesterday.

It started off well enough. Everyone got dressed and ate without drama. I had already planned that I would work on taking down the Christmas decorations and I would send the children upstairs to tackle the third floor which can explode like nobody's business. So that's what we did. I only had to make one trip upstairs to remind everyone that if they spend their time being concerned about who is not doing their fair share, the room will never get picked up.

Oh, and there was also another vet visit for the dog. We noticed that Gretel's stitches and the skin around them were not looking good (you can thank me for not sharing a picture), so J. called first thing in the morning to get her an appointment and graciously offered to take her in for me. The good news is that it could still heal despite the hole that had developed, the bad news is that if it doesn't start to heal, they will have to do more surgery. In the meantime, I should apply warm water compresses on it two to three times a day. Great.

Lunchtime rolls around. People get food, the dog, wearing her t-shirt which is blood stained because the wound keeps bleeding a little bit, wanders around, and life seems fairly normal. Quiet time starts. The little girls, who insist on putting their pajamas, go to bed, and everything is quiet. I should have finished with Christmas, but there is something therapeutic about writing each day and so I did that instead. Quiet time ends. And so does any trace of quiet around the house for the rest of the day.

I don't know what switch flipped in the entire child population long about three o'clock, but something did. Life just seemed to get very loud and very crazy. I knew that dinner needed a long time to cook and took a little while to prepare, so I needed to start that. It was at that point I realized that once again I had successfully ignored the kitchen and it was a disaster. But instead of cleaning it up, I needed to help focus the children who were at extreme loose ends. So I got a large piece of paper out to make a new Bible verse to hang on the wall. This engaged some of them for the time it took to get dinner made, but it seemed a louder activity than it normally is.

After dinner was in the oven, I decided to try to finish putting Christmas decorations in boxes. Which I did manage, but only by sheer stubbornness. It was as if someone had slipped the entire dog and child population speed while I wasn't looking. It was that crazy. People were running around and screaming. People were bickering. The dog would go through bursts of insanity where she would race at top speed around the kitchen and then hurl herself at an unsuspecting child. I would go put out whatever figurative fire was happening and then go back to my chosen task. At one point I go into the kitchen to discover that K. and the little girls had brought what looked like the entire contents of  G.'s and L.'s room to the kitchen and left if all over the floor for the dog to chew. I see her chewing something, ask the children who are standing right next to her what she's chewing, and receive a shrug in return. I discover that it is one of the new ice cream cones from L.'s Christmas gift. I then, perhaps not so nicely insist that all the toys get taken upstairs.

I stubbornly go back to the boxes when another child arrives to tell my in a horror-stricken voice that Gretel's stitches look worse than ever and that he thinks more stitches have pulled out. It is now 6 pm and J. will be coming home. Is it bad that since I new I wasn't taking her to the vet right that instant that I decided to wait until J. came home to deal with it? (I'm actually glad I did because he was able to say that they looked exactly the same as that morning. The reporting child just hadn't seen them yet.) In midst of all of this, H. is peeling carrots for me. She likes to peel carrots and is good at it, but for some reason yesterday she was moving in slow motion and had only done five carrots in 20 minutes. So at the time I was expecting to slice the carrots to cook, she still had over a pound of carrots to peel. And my head exploded just a little more.

To tell all this just doesn't sound very bad, but that is because you don't have the continual racing and yelling in the background which was accompanying the whole thing. Or the increasing disaster of mess that was building up because I was obsessively focusing on my chosen task. Mayhem is a word that comes to mind. There were no clean glasses for dinner, so some had to be washed before they could be filled with milk. And then one of them broke. I was never so glad to have J. come home and was sorely tempted to run out.

It was certainly not the atmosphere that I try to encourage when he arrives home. I try to have things somewhat under control and attitudes fairly calm, because who wants to walk into a war zone everyday after work? But I'm afraid that is exactly what happened yesterday. I am blessed with a patient and understanding husband and even though the crazy continued somewhat after dinner, he offered to take care of the hoards so that I could go meet some homeschooling mothers who had arranged to go out last night. I wasn't even originally planning on going, but I just needed a break.

I know that crazy days happen, but I've been trying to decide what in particular triggered that one. I'm afraid I know the answer. Over the past month or two, I have been allowing the children to watch an hour's worth of videos right before dinner. They beg and I have to admit the peace is not unwelcome. We had fallen into bad habits and this nightly video ritual had become an expectation rather than a treat. I find anything involving screens has a sort of steam rolling effect. The more you watch, the more you want to watch, and that was what was beginning to happen. I knew I needed to rein it in a bit and so I had decided that we were going cold turkey yesterday. I even explained to everyone why I was saying no. I've done this before so I should have been expecting the resulting insanity, but it caught me by surprise. It will even out in a few days. People will stop begging, they will find new ways to fill that slot of time, and life will return to normal again. The process just isn't a lot of fun.
Pray for Brandi today.

This is Brandi. She is 6 years old. She lies in her crib and waits and waits and waits for someone to scoop her up and tell her how loved she is. Just imagine a grin on her face, her hair allowed to grow out. Imagine how transformed she will look when she is loved. Pray that she doesn't have to wait too much longer for her parents to find her.

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