There's nothing like a knock-down-drag-out fight with an ordinarily agreeable 3-year-old; when your husband's out of town; when your little brother, a mere sixteen months your minor and closer than close, moved across the country--wait, there's more--when you suddenly have two jobs where once you had none; when your therapist has been out of town the past three weeks; when your newly-minted two year old has diarrhea and has also managed to un-sleep-train-herself, climbing, unnoticed, into your bed in the middle of the night while you're on heavy sleep-inducing drugs; when you haven't gone for a run or done yoga in longer than you'd like to admit--all to make you feel, as the three year old is screaming and throwing pajamas at you thirty minutes past bedtime, like you just might be the worst mother in the world.
And then, you calmly, as calmly as you can, hold back the tears of frustration and rejection-by-your-beloved-child, resist the urge to collapse on the floor next to your babies and the dog you're dog-sitting that's, btw, having a doggy panic attack. You put everyone, including yourself, in a separate room until we can all calm down. You take a breath. Maybe a hundred.
You tell the two year old to get back into bed. Once. Maybe a hundred times.
You tell the three year old, as her hysteria subsides, that she did not win this bout. That she can be as mad and sad and frustrated as she wants about not having the right jammies, but it is NOT OKAY to scream or throw things at Mommy.
And Daddy will happen to call in the middle of it all. He'll hear both sides of the story. And run interference--and unknowingly set a melancholy upon the house, his absence palpable.
And you'll hug your three-year-old with her unruly curls, sitting in her Hello Kitty panties at the end of her bed. And she'll tell you "sorry for yelling and throwing."
And you'll reply, "sorry for not listening about your pajamas," but edging in again, for good moral measure, "it is okay to be mad, but it is not okay to scream and throw things."
"I'm sorry we had a fight," you'll say, as you brush her hair out of her face and give her a kiss on her sweaty, tired forehead.
"I love you no matter what," you'll add.
"And I love you too," she'll say.
"And, Danielle, GET BACK INTO BED!" you'll both remind the acrobatic two-year-old, reeking again of liquid poop.
And when all is said and done, when the diaper's been changed, the prayers prayed, the lullaby crooned, it's an hour after bed time when you turn off the lights, shut the door and decide it's time for The Chocolate Ice Cream.
And it will seem so trivial. And melodramatic, the thick dark chocolate coating your tongue. And like you have no right to complain when there are people without health care or clean water or any family at all.
Nevertheless, you'll remind yourself, the feelings must be felt for life to move on.
And you'll search for some wisdom, for something bigger than yourself. This is also known as: looking up quotes on goodreads.com and putting them on your blog.
“to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.”
― Ellen Bass
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them;
that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow
naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu
“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Stepping into Freedom: Rules of Monastic Practice for Novices
“Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed,
recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are
ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am
planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot
with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha
or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything
else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and
teapot are all sacred.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness
“You might be tempted to avoid the messiness of daily living for the
tranquility of stillness and peacefulness. This of course would be an
attachment to stillness, and like any strong attachment, it leads to
delusion. It arrests development and short-circuits the cultivation of
― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are
“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
And, with that, your spoon scrapes the bottom of the re-purposed salsa container, holding your homemade chocolate zinfandel ice cream.
And, I guess you could say, you've tasted life.
It was a little salty, but mostly sweet, bitter and pungent, sticky and cold, mind-numbing and velvety, rich and thick, hard to chew, but easy to swallow.