Bad days don’t announce themselves usually but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they did? I don’t even need to know the specifics really; I am quite happy dealing with the mystery of it all. I just need to know that it is going to be a bad one so that I can drink a few extra cups of coffee, put on my thick skin, and pack away all of my high expectations for another day.
The worst bad days are the ones that start off good. They are sunny and bright with everyone in a pleasant mood. On some level, every parent is always on guard for the unexpected, but on a day that I am describing, you’ve baked with your children not just white-chocolate-banana muffins but also double-chocolate brownies with walnuts; you’ve spent hours in the park swinging and sliding with them; you’ve happily agreed to afternoon-movie watching with popcorn; you’ve said yes to “can we have gummies?” for the second and third times. You have felt on top of the world.
Alas, past fun-times hold zero guarantees for future-fun times because young children have a way to muck things up without meaning to. You know this already, but man, the day has been so good that you temporarily forget the complete randomness of such things and how fleeting the good times can be.
Until one of your children, who is probably tired from the excessive stimulations of all of the goodness mentioned above, wigs-out over something basic like being asked “to use inside voice around his sleeping baby brother”. He proceeds to blow a gasket and you – with all that positivity and goodness rubbed off from the day – calmly ask him to come join you in the kitchen to help with dinner, an activity that is thoroughly enjoyed on previous occasions.
But all he does is moan and whine louder, before secretly proceeding to eat the muffin you baked together despite knowing that it was not meant to be eaten until tomorrow. You are still holding it together. You carry the screaming and kicking child outside with instructions that they can come in when their body is calm.
You see him struggle to do so from the window. So you offer help which results in even more screaming. So you let them be. They need their space. That’s what all the books you have read say. You can’t talk sense through tantrums. That they need to pass before progress can be made.
He screams on.
Then your doorbells rings and it’s all the moms from your block with nothing but concern for the child and a horrific look that says “what the hell is wrong with YOU”. His screams have summoned them from far and wide. You get schooled in parenting. You are so dumb founded that you have no words except saying that everyone is safe and “thanks for checking”.
You close the door. Then proceed to pull your now quiet child inside with absolutely no good left in you. You are disgusted at yourself because in your mind you were just delivered a bad-mom trophy when all along you’ve been patting yourself in the back and wondering when your good-mom trophy will arrive.
It’s 1-miniute later, and he is running around happily with his siblings like nothing happened, while you are holding a crying baby and wondering what the hell just happened!
So yeah, you definitely didn’t drink enough coffee to deal with this bad day. You wait for your husband to get home from work and then hide in a corner with two big hunks of brownies and the Costco size bag of Cheetos. Because somehow junk food and bad days go hand in hand.
Later, you kiss your children good night. You tell them – like you always do – that you love them more than you did yesterday and the day before and the day before that. That they are perfect just the way they are. You mean this completely but also wonder quietly what the hell is wrong with them! What the hell is wrong with YOU. You collapse in bed with your mind still racing and thinking of all the thing you could have done differently. Of all the things you could have said when the doorbell rang. All the things that could have prevented the bad day.
You eventually fall asleep and the bad day ends. Amen.