Bleary-eyed and grumpy, I scooped the dog’s food out of the bag this morning at 6:53 and poured not only a cup full of kibble into the bowl, but also a mouse. He blinked and waved hello. Just kidding. He picked up another morsel of dog food and kept eating like he belonged there.
At that point, I probably should have known, in the words of my shaggy-haired friend Alexander*, that this was going to be a ‘terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day’.
The pile of Potato Heads were still right where they were dumped last night, the same kids requested their usual breakfast, Monday folders and lunchboxes were stuffed into Tuesday’s backpacks…I could feel my attitude sliding down that slippery, uncaffeinated slope of impatience and frustration. Why doesn’t anybody clean up their messes around here? If I have to tell him one more time…
After the older ones went to school, the feverish preschooler and I took up residence on the couch while he watched a Little Einsteins marathon and I tackled a writing project. I belong to a writing group where we exchange our work and offer feedback. Another writer was generous with her praise and complimented me on a chapter I’d worked very hard to write well. A word of encouragement goes a long way.
How often do I season my lectures with words of encouragement?
A few minutes later, my inbox revealed a message from one of my son’s teachers. I’d spent quite a bit of time dispensing my wisdom regarding the error of his ways recently. Apparently it fell on deaf ears because he committed a minor offense shortly after arriving at school. Meanwhile, while I’m beside myself with frustration over the repeat offender, the feverish preschooler couldn’t bother to get off the couch and use the bathroom in a timely manner…why doesn’t anybody clean up their messes around here?
So after calling my husband on the phone and complaining about his son’s behavior, I was scrubbing yet another stain out of the sofa and generally feeling sorry for myself. It was, in fact, turning out to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. On my way to get more paper towels, I tripped over the pile of potato heads. And I started to remember the joy that little pile brought to our family last night. Eli built the ones you see in the pictures and asked me to act out scene after scene of silly dialogue with him before bath time. He had us all in stitches with his clever word choice and funny questions. That’s probably why the toys are still out. They didn’t want to pick them up because they are hoping for an encore presentation tonight.
How quickly I forget … like Alexander longed for Australia, I long for ‘somebody else’ to clean up my messes and make life pretty again. But as Mary Oliver once stated, this is my ‘one wild and precious life’, ordained by the Creator of the universe. He didn’t make a mistake and He equipped me for the journey. And even though I make the same mistakes again and again, He doesn’t remind me of my shortcomings. His love is not a by-product of my performance. And I’m so grateful.
*In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, Alexander refers to the children’s book by Judith Viorst titled Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.
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