I’m in my room listening to my kids downstairs in the kitchen. They told me not to come down to make waffles yet because they are making a clam out of tin foil. It must be a pretty funny clam because there is a lot of giggling going on. And a lot of squeaking. (There is always a lot of squeaking.) Seems like a good moment for me to reflect on the ups and downs of yesterday. Yesterday was hard.
When your husband is in a war zone you don’t feel entitled to bad days. Any whining sounds petty, even in my own ears, even if I’m the one struggling. It doesn’t matter if the balance tips on a day like yesterday where there were so many annoyances that it took effort to look for positives. People still think (and sometimes say to me), “Well, at least you’re not the one in Iraq.” Yes, I know, I am lucky that nothing I go through here measures up. That doesn’t change the fact that my reality still reduces me to tears on days like yesterday, but I just get to feel undeserving of them. I end up feeling bad about feeling bad.
Yesterday wasn’t terrible. It would be easy to put a funny spin on a lot of it after the fact, but I’ll just do the blow by blow.
The kids were off school, which automatically makes for a longer day. We still had to get up early because the girls both had doctor’s appointments. Mona just finished ten days of medicine for strep throat and was still in pain, and Aden has been coughing enough that the school nurse has been calling me. They both act healthy and fine and go about their running and playing so it’s hard to know when they need medical attention sometimes, but I figured the day off school was my perfect opportunity to see a regular doctor and not end up in the weekend urgent care we’ve been frequenting. (My kids only have need of medical attention on weekends or at night, but that’s a whole different post.)
Keeping three kids entertained at the doctor isn’t easy. They always end up touching the floor which makes me crazy, and yesterday they just could not sit still. Aden kept running water at the little sink and Mona and Quinn fought over the spinning stool and they all want me to help make them balloons out of rubber gloves. On the up side, with an early morning appointment the wait wasn’t too long and the doctor concluded that Mona needs stronger medicine and Aden needs to be nebulized three times a day. (Mona also has a medical mystery on the backs of her hands, but that’s also a whole different post.)
(I hear cereal being poured downstairs. Mona was just here and she is a terrible liar. I asked her just now if they were making me breakfast in bed to cheer me up and she looked alarmed and said, “We’re just doing a secret something for someone. You don’t need to come down and make breakfast. How about I snuggle with you!” I told her she could go back down and she ran off saying, “WHEW!” Two sets of people are coming to look at our house this morning so I’m not looking forward to seeing how much I have to clean the kitchen before we head out today. Anyway….)
After the doctor we went straight to Target to pick up prescriptions and then I had an eye appointment. I’ve been noticing a difference between my left and right eyes when I focus on things close up. The eye exam with three bored kids along was really frustrating, and the doctor said I should have had glasses years ago. He made me sound blind as a bat, which is just not true and was not pleasant news the weekend of my birthday.
(Awww…. So the kids just came up with my ‘tray’ which was the lid from a plastic box. Rice Krispies with way too much milk, toast with sides of butter and jam but no knife, and sliced up bananas. Mona helped me eat the bananas and the toast, Quinn helped me eat the cereal. They are making it hard to complain about them from yesterday. Aden made me an oyster from tin foil wrapped in scotch tape with a little cup like area to hold a necklace I love with a single pearl on it. It looks like the oyster is open and showing off the pearl. I was worried at first that Aden had taped my necklace into the whole display, but the chain just piles inside the cup and the pearl sits on top. I asked if this was for my birthday tomorrow but they said they have something else planned for that. This was a “We’re sorry we don’t listen the first time” breakfast treat.)
A nice woman helped me pick out frames. She observed the circus act I travel with and handed me a pair of glasses saying, “These are very durable.” I ordered a pair and put them on for Mona, who winced and said, “You look horrible!” Another customer nearby assured me they looked fine, but sheesh. It will be hard enough adjusting to glasses without knowing my kids hate them.
After Target we couldn’t go straight home because since our current house went on the market last weekend we’ve had people going in and out every day, and someone was supposedly there right then. We went to the new house where I tried to get a bookshelf assembled but had to abandon that project because the kids couldn’t get along. When the coast was clear we crossed the street to the old house.
I gave Mona her new medicine which caused her to vomit everywhere. Aden had to be prompted several times to nebulize. I cleaned up the house again for the next viewing and we headed to the violin store where I had several appointments lined up. I had to pump up one of the tires on the car. We stopped at Subway to pick up something for lunch, and when we got to the violin store I discovered that somewhere in our meager travels both Aden and Quinn had stepped in a ton of dog poop and tracked it all over the car. Not just the floors but the backs of the seats, and they leave so much stuff on the floor that their coats are now all in the wash, and the changes of clothes I bring along in case of disaster were all dirty, and the car seats…. It was just such a stupid waste of time when I don’t have any time to spare.
I had them leave the poopy things in a heap on the sidewalk and go inside to eat. I scrubbed the car and put everything that needed washing into a garbage bag. I left several messages for the doctor to figure out what to do about Mona. I tried to get some work done on a cello bridge that I’m behind on, worked with customers, answered calls, and then nagged the kids about picking up their messes. My store used to be a kind of sanctuary of order and neatness, but now that the kids are along all the time it looks like someone forgot to clear a daycare center out of the violin shop before I moved in.
I worked as long as I could before the kids made that impossible, but we couldn’t go home because the house was being viewed again. We went to Leon’s instead. Leon’s is a frozen custard stand that is open all winter long. It’s the kind of place that reminds you why the show Happy Days was set in Milwaukee. There is always a line at Leon’s no matter how cold it is here, the custard is just that good. An ice cream break is always a good thing, and between that and the kids singing together my mood improved.
I did laundry. I made a dinner no one came down to eat until it was cold because I didn’t feel like repeating myself or yelling anymore. (Quinn was so wiped out he slept through dinner and movie night. No wonder he ate all my cereal this morning.) I did dishes and helped with violin practice and we watched ‘Ponyo’ for Friday Night Movie Night. I liked the end of the day snuggle.
See, it doesn’t sound like a terrible day at all, does it? Just a busy day with kids. But the stress of keeping the current house unnaturally clean all the time and constantly breaking up noisy squabbles and always feeling behind on everything wears me down some days.
And all of it reminds me I miss my husband. When I just need a little extra hand at unexpected moments, or when I go to bed upset with no one to talk to and put things in perspective, I get angry at him for not being here. And then, of course, I feel like I have no right to be angry. Because he’s the noble one at war and I’m just supposed to be thankful that I am here and we’re safe and relatively healthy. I’m supposed to be better than I am.
Deployment adds a thin layer of guilt and sadness to many things I do. It colors every day in a way that isn’t easy to see or describe, but it’s there. It keeps tears closer to the surface than they would otherwise be. I get upset more easily, so days like yesterday hit me harder than they should.
But hey, today started with breakfast in bed and an oyster to put on my nightstand. My kids are trying to help and that means the world to me. Now I have to go clean everything up for the next house viewing and take everyone to work with me again. We may need a nother trip to Leon’s.