The good days, they make the hard days more bearable. Every door-slamming fit, every voice crying out about the unfairness of life, every reminder that dirty clothes belong in the hamper not the floor, every eye roll over homework, every tear shed over bedtime, every frustrated scream I hold in (and some I don't), they're all canceled out by the good: the snuggling up to read Laura Ingalls Wilder in the evening, the climbing and exploring in the backyard, the chalk drawings in the driveway, the giggles of the littlest one playing with her sisters, the hugs and the kisses and the "I love you"s.
When there's a particularly long stretch of good though, the hard takes me by surprise. I feel happy and free, like a child on a swing. Then, all-of-a-sudden the hard creeps up behind me and, like a bully, pushes me off mid-swoop, knocking the wind out of me. It takes me awhile to shake it off and catch my breath, to regain my equilibrium and get back up on the swing and start pumping again.
I am off balance right now, recovering from landing flat on my back. My breath is shaky and I'm trying to figure out where this slip off the swing came from. I was feeling pretty confident up so high, my tippytoes inches away from the trees, my head tilted back to the sky.
Yesterday I spent an extra several minutes in the bathroom, just for a breather. My middle one found me out pretty quickly, but answered her own question when she asked what I was doing, "You just need some time alone, Mommy?" (So, clearly not the first time I've used this hiding place.) Then bedtime, too, was a struggle, for me and everyone involved. A time that can be full of snuggles and whispered stories and last of the day memories made, instead was curt goodnights, frustrated sighs, and a quick and desperate trip out for cheesecake to console myself for the evening.
I was hopeful that chocolate and my cozy bed would give me renewed energy for the morning, the hand up I might need to plop back on the swing and fly through the sky again. But the morning was more of the same. Actually worse. Temper tantrums and tears and sighing and trying to breath through it all. When my husband returned from his run I warned him, "I would recommend not speaking to me right now." I was not angry or frustrated with him, but I knew that any wrong (in my mind) comment would cause an eruption equal to Vesuvius.
I guess I'm still reeling from the fall, perhaps no longer flat on my back, but definitely still butt to the ground, brushing off the grass and dirt. Not quite feeling well enough to pull myself up and enthusiastically pump my swing up to rainbows and clouds and happy fairies.
I know I'll get there. I always do. Every time I fall off the swing, or get pushed, somehow I make my way back. Even though there are plenty of bad days, there are also plenty of good. And if I pay attention, the good do outnumber the bad. So I know I'll find my rhythm again. I know that the frustration and short patience right now will soon turn around. It's just the in-between is annoying, crushing, and discouraging. I just want to snap my fingers and jump back on the swing instead of having to take the time to dig deep to figure out what's caused my fall. I don't want to feel all messy and dirty and work hard and listen to whatever discovery my life is asking of me.
But I will get there. And if I take this time in my current discomfort, the good and happy will last longer next time. This is what I'm slowly learning. If I allow myself to explore and try to understand the bad, the good comes on stronger and last longer. So I'm going to take a couple breathers (or as many as I might need), do some writing and reading and listening, and tentatively sit back on my swing, perhaps with a little help from my village, and start working my way back up to the clouds.