I had such high expectations. That should have been a red flag to me.
I’d been out of town all week and flew back home yesterday morning. While I was gone, I’d spoken to the children on the phone, texted with the girls, FaceTimed the boys. They missed me. I missed them. I was looking forward to reading Charlotte’s Web with the boys. BabyThing and I had plans for some major snuggling to make up for lost time.
Though I had prepared for some mess after unsupervised children had spent a snow day hanging out at home, I walked into a shockingly clean house. The bright red amaryllis had bloomed while I was gone, so our dining room looked especially cheerful and welcoming.
So far, so good. My already-high expectations had been surpassed. It was going to be a great day! My expectations ratcheted up a couple more notches.
I napped for a while in my quiet, clean house. I baked a cake for a surprise after-school snack. I couldn’t wait for the kids to get home!
The bus rolled up. The kids ran off. Giant hugs. Tight squeezes. We’d missed each other so much. It was a happy reunion.
Those brief moments were very sweet; but from there, it all went downhill rather quickly. As if a giant hand yanked on a loose thread, my emotions spun around and around. I was unraveling at a fast pace. Reality was not matching my high expectations, and I did not mom-up and handle it well.
The boys reenacted a wrestling demonstration they’d seen at school. It sounded like Andre the Giant was bodyslamming Hulk Hogan through the ceiling above me. My previously silent, peaceful house was suddenly filled not only with the delicious smell of chocolate cake, but with bickering and homework meltdowns and wrestling thuds and battle cries and angry grunts and whiny pouts and angry discussions. I nagged and impatiently corrected with harsh words. Children argued with each other and with me. Little things escalated rapidly to big deals.
It was not the happy homecoming I had envisioned. My high expectations crashed to the ground and stayed down for the count.
At an early bedtime, as BabyThing lay sobbing in his bed, I empathized. Clearly, his expectations for the evening had also been dashed. I lay beside him, our foreheads touching. His splotchy, swollen, red, tear-drenched cheeks brushed against mine. “I’m s-s-s-sorry,” he blubbered, “This isn’t what I thought our day would be like. Everyone annoyed me s-s-sooo much.”
Yeah, they’d annoyed me too. Heck, I had annoyed me too! It was like one of those horrible MonsterMomma out-of-body experiences. You know? When I feel like I’m hovering over myself watching myself act like a fire-breathing-dragon-momma instead of like the patient, loving momma I had expected myself to be. I lay there with one arm holding seven-year-old BabyThing close thinking, Sometimes I am a much better momma when I’m not actually WITH my children. Far away in Florida, listening to their school stories over the phone, I had been kind and patient and cheerful. Talking about them to my friends, I had been a loving, proud mother.
So as BabyThing’s sobs petered out, I whispered, Today’s almost over. Tomorrow will be better. We’ll all act nicer tomorrow. I’ll try to love you better. You’ll love me better. It will be a better day.
And sometimes that’s all you can do. Put the bad day to bed. Sleep off the annoyance and exhaustion and disappointment. And wake up to new mercies.