A day like yesterday makes me wonder how I made it to the end of the day. It began not much unlike any other day, at about 4:00 in the morning. I first reached for my phone to check the time and confirm that my body was functioning as expected, waking me up at the set hour before the rising sun. I used to have a policy of not going to bed with my phone, but since giving up on the digital large numbered radio clock to guide me through the night hours I returned to my trusty phone. And while said clock still sits with its cord strewn alongside it on bedroom floor, it is merely another object for me to put away rather than a functional piece of furniture. A hour after I had brought it back from my parents, hooked it up and set up the time, Yousef had decided that it was a new "toy" and went about setting the alarm, changing the dial and turning up the volume. When it went off at an odd hour one day, I decided that was the end of that attempt at a "normal" life.
After I verified the time, I took a quick peak at my inbox to see if I had any "important" emails; of course there were none - nothing unusual. Then, I checked Facebook to see what others have been up to and to arm myself with topics for morning conversation. I barely gave it a minute and decided it was a waste of the morning minutes. I will surely be returning to it throughout the day to distract myself from whatever else I would be doing. By the light of the phone, I made my way down the stairs.
In the kitchen I set about putting the dry dishes away, heating water up for coffee, tea and oatmeal and getting Jannah-Rae's lunchbox ready. It was Wednesday so all she needed was "sides." Wednesdays are pizza days and three dollars from Baba bought her lunch. Earlier on in the school year I had thought I would allow her pizza from the school as a "treat" every once in a while but that soon became a routine. It wasn't that I was against pizza per se, I just didn't want her to eat pizza made from unknown ingredients. So I sent her with homemade pizza a few times, then life got the better of me on Wednesdays and she joined her friends in their weekly indulgence. I set out her sides: frozen peas and fresh blackberries, labelled the containers and counted the change. I made the oatmeal, brewed the coffee and sweetened my tea. Then I headed towards the living room couch and turned on my laptop. Today, I was going about my morning in reverse: I was going to tend to things first and meditate later. Except that later never came.
Soon after I sat down I heard footsteps on the stairs; it was Jannah-Rae and she was not looking good. "My throat hurts," she said and that was the beginning of a long day at home. She had a fever, was coughing and sneezing and she was not going anywhere but back to the room. I, too, wasn't going anywhere either and had to make the best of a day at home with a sick child and an overactive toddler. My day was going to be interesting.
We started with food and tried different things: cereal with milk, toast with honey, bagel with cream cheese, boiled eggs. A few bites of each and on to another choice. The dishes in the sink began to pile. Then we worked on a wooden sail boat; the sails are still missing. We moved on to assembling Yousef's workbench; it arrived with broken parts. We tried doing puzzles; pieces covered the living room floor. I tried a "contained" activity and handed the kids foam, a plastic box and figurines; Yousef sprayed it on the carpet. Trains and tracks weren't any better; the trains went flying down the stairs. We tried the i-Pad but when it was time to hand it back Yousef had a complete meltdown.
And so went the day, from one activity to another and from one screaming session to another. All the while, JR was doing her best to stay upright and cheerful attempting to eat and drink but not managing to do as much as she should. She dozed off a few times, took a couple doses of medicine and lounged on the couch. She was clearly not herself and try as I could to make her feel better, she was just sick and needed love and attention.
I kept watching the clock; the hours were ticking by so slowly. It was only 10:30 one time. Then it was only 2:00. We had four more hours till Jeff got home. Then, it was 4:30 and by the time it was 5:30 I was out of ideas, energy and the will to go on. So when I almost tripped on Jeff walking up the stairs my spirits lifted; now we could all get in the car and go for a drive to cut off the last hour of the day and change the scenery. And out we went, for juice and treats. It was after 7:00 when we returned and bed time got started. Jannah-Rae was fast asleep within minutes of getting in bed while Yousef decided to be "cute" and delay bedtime. He kept playing "peek-a-boo" and giggling, asking for water and the bathroom, wanting to eat and see Baba. Shortly before 8:00pm he stopped giving me kisses and surrendered to sleep. It had been a long day.
How I made it from 4:00am to 8:00pm without losing my mind is a mystery to me. In the midst of everything I managed to make, and eat, lunch and dinner, fold, and put away, a load of laundry, pay three bills by phone, put up plastic on three windows, and read two chapters from my book. I did not yell at the kids, express frustration or complain about my situation. I could have screamed at Yousef for spilling the juice, or for throwing the popcorn on the floor, or for emptying the foam canister on the bedroom floor. I could have lost my patience with him over the tantrums, the multiple change of clothes, or the torn pages of the catalog. But I chose otherwise. I turned a blind eye to the mess, looked over the trash and walked around the clutter. I took it hour by hour and looked for the fun a midst the chaos. I laughed rather than frowned, hugged close instead of shoved away. I took part in their life rather than try to control it. I became one with them, rather than stand apart. I told Yousef to pose while I took photos of him pushing shaving cream unto the floor. I enjoyed cleaning up the mess.
Yes, it was a rough day. But it was also blessed. It was a reminder of all the wonderful things that make up my life. True, Jannah-Rae was sick and that put a damper on the day, but she is with us, and that is all that matters. She, her brother and her father are what make a day like yesterday a wonderful day.