It’s Saturday morning 10:21 and I’m having my first cup of coffee. My first cup and here is what has already happened.
1) 7:30 I slept in. Me. It may have only been 7:30 but I slept until then. Amazing.
2) 7:31 I prayed. That’s how I start each day. Sometimes it’s simple. “Lord, thank you for another day.” Other days, like today it’s a bit longer. This week has been long. Snow day that was too cold to stay outside for more than a few minutes. Sick child. Tired mommy. Dreary February sky that I am doing everything in me to not be sunk by. Cameron’s first fish died after only a few days. Long night of crying, weeping really, and discussing death with a five year old who knows the finality of death too well. Amazing the insights that a five year old has and can receive when lying in the safety and stillness of their own bed. Trix (the fish) remained in the tank for a day and then I had to discuss what would happen to his body if we left him in the water any longer. Cameron decided that after school we would send him to his forever home. Thank you, God, for Finding Nemo and the understanding that a toilet leads to more water where his body could safely continue to decompose. After school, I hear him in his room while I’m getting him a snack and he comes into the kitchen with Trix in his hands!!! As with everything in his life, potty training, talking, saying goodbye to paci, when the boy makes up his mind, there’s no going back. I tried to remain calm that my son had just reached into his tank and gotten the fish with his hands and said, “mom, I think a little part of him came off.” We took him to the toilet and said goodbye and flushed him down. As it’s spinning, I start washing his hands with him, silently hoping that the fish does not spin back up. Please, Jesus. Please. Flush complete. No Trix. Thank you, Jesus. Your mercy is my joy.
3) 8:07 Reading some verses, my devotional, checking FB, reading some articles. Cameron came in and welcomed me with the most wonderful and sincere hug and kiss.
4) 8:14 We put Cameron’s new fish, Trix and Cupcake, in their new tank. This time I did everything I was told, got the water ready, the temperature right and these fish are going to make it. Please let them make it.
5) 8:47 Alana wakes up and comes into the kitchen. We all have some breakfast.
6) 9:00ish I switch the loads of laundry. Cameron folds his. I clean my kitchen, take out the trash, recycling. Get Alana’s fish tank updated so we don’t have any problems there either. This morning is wonderful.
10:15 I take this picture. They are still playing happily. I make coffee and go in the family room to listen to music and write. I can’t believe my good fortune.
I begin writing about how the morning is going. How wonderful it is and how it is just what I needed. I plan to write something really fantastic about mornings like this being the glue that holds a mom together. The weight of being a single parent weighs on me at times. This article on the 5 Toughest Single Mom Struggles was ringing through my head all week. I try my hardest to be strong, carry on and keep fighting, give myself the grace that all moms deserve. This week it was difficult and I was tired. Like really tired. The kind of tired where you have fantasies about leaving it all and going to a sandy beach somewhere and never looking back. Then simultaneously feel extreme guilt about it because you don’t really ever want to leave your children but the beach and quiet and feet in the sand…I digress. Moms are often in need of the very same things they are tirelessly giving their children; love, affection, words of affirmation, recognition, a mere thank you. When you’re a mother of young children, single or not, those moments do not occur often. But when they do, it is beautiful. When those moments occur, all the little pieces of your heart that are cracking, threatening to break you, are smoothed out, glued back together. I get through the fish story and the few pictures then I sit back and breathe in this moment. And then…
Yelling, screaming. Me having a voice-over moment: “nooooooooo…” (fist in the air in disbelief). I am somehow not at all surprised when this rare combination of factors leads to the perfect storm:
10:34 A violent storm hits my living room. Alana has been struggling. Being a 9 year old girl is confusing and hard. Guys, you can take my word for it. I’ll take your word that it is also difficult and confusing being a 9 year old boy. Hell, being a human is difficult. Anyway, there is screaming and destroying of forts and hitting. The perfect storm. I listen for a moment. Alana begins to head for her room. I say, “You both better be here, standing in front of me before I get to 10.” And I start counting. It works. Then the stories and yelling began, “he said, he did, she said, she did.”
Here is sort of what happened next…”Whoa guys. That is enough of that. What happened?”
Wrong question, mom! The yelling begins again. I raise my voice and tell them to both stop because I am not going to yell over them. I tell them that every action has a consequence and I want to find out what action started this chain of events. Fast forward a few minutes, realize that Alana started the whole event and they both reacted inappropriately. Alana says, “So you’re telling me that we were having a perfect morning until I ruined it?” And I think about protecting her, but then decide to tell her the truth, “yes”. Well that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I grabbed my delicious caramel macchiato coffee so it wouldn’t spill while she lost it. Drink a few sips. Wait. In a break, I went a step further. “You asked me a question, I told you the truth. You don’t want to hear what I said, because it is true and you don’t like it.” Some more screaming, throwing pillows, this time narrowly missing the coffee cup. That puts me over the edge. “That’s it, Alana! Cameron! You both have completely forgotten how to cope. We have to cope with our anger. Remember this? They have used this poster that we made at counseling since 2012. It used to be posted and it was everyday language in our house. I read it to them. Then said, “I want to hear your version of what you did. When one of you is talking, the other one is to remain silent. That does not mean I believe everything the person is saying, I am just listening. Then you will have your turn and I will listen to you. And somewhere in the middle of the two stories, mommy will discover the truth.” Cameron went first, “we were playing a game and Alana hit me on the check.” Cue Alana’s anger and screaming she didn’t do that etc. Voice over of me: Oh, hell naw. What I really said: “Alana, that. Is. Enough. It is his turn to talk. I did not say I believed him. I did not say he was right. I am just listening. When he is done I will listen to you.” (Alana hiding behind the chair and throwing pillows in the background. At least it’s a healthy coping mechanism and far from the coffee). Alana tells her side and I eventually help her see how her behavior instigated all of this. While she is quietly processing, Cameron with that bottom lip stuck out says, “after the fort, I was going to ask you to do a craft. But now I don’t even want to do one. I feel droopy.” The glue that smooths. Alana and I talk about how she doesn’t feel like she is being heard or getting her way. How do you tell your daughter that this will always happen? Somehow I do. We have an incredible conversation about coping and that it is hard but necessary to learn how to deal with her feelings. How my job is to teach her how to do that and she is blessed to be learning that now. That some kids never learn how to do that and as you get older, the actions and the consequences are much more serious. We all sit for a minute. They genuinely apologize to each other and go rebuild the fort.
11:11 Both kids have a snack and I come back down to finish writing. Still only half way through that cup of coffee.