When You Have a Bad Day…

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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My blogger friend over at Missives from Suburbia recently wrote a terrific post about how feelings originate from either fear or love. She presented a challenge to her readers to watch how we talk to and treat our loved ones and then make rational choices instead of impulsive ones. I took that to mean that I should consciously choose love over fear, kindness over harshness.

So today, the starting point for this challenge, I started my day in a fine way, with a smile on my face, newspaper in front of me, coffee in hand. Then the kids start acting…well…a little revved. Goofy, silly, loud, talking too much about farts and butts, you know, being just a bit overly wild. I chose to ignore it all (well, except when I reminded them of our rule of no potty talk at the table), but as for the other stuff, I just kept telling myself, “Give ’em a little bit of slack today. They’re so happy…they’ll be on their way to school soon enough…” (as I felt the beginning pangs of a headache).

Stressed Woman

I quietly slipped into my room to get dressed, pulled on one of my favorite sweaters, and got ready for the day, urging myself to believe that there are no bad days, only bad moments. Each moment we make a choice (or many choices), and I was determined to choose to keep moving forward, to keep things in perspective and most of all to just be aware of how my state of mind affected my choices.

Then I noticed a hole in my favorite sweater. When did that get there? Rats. Take that off, put on some other shirt. Whatever. Keep going. It’s just an article of clothing. As my day continued, it just kept getting worse and worse (I won’t bore you with all the details, let’s just say it involved PMS). It reminded me of that picture book I recently reviewed on my radio show, called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. You know, where everything seems to be going wrong and the bad moments continue throughout the day.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

By dinnertime, I was really cranky and couldn’t muster a smile for anything. So I tell the kids to just give me some space. “I just want to check a few things online and then I’ll start making dinner,” I explain. So, I’m at the computer when I hear the first few notes of a song from the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks. I look over to my right and see my son holding a tablespoon like a microphone while he lipsyncs the words (he recently discovered how to do it and is pretty excited to fake sing to all kinds of music in a hammy, performing kind of way). It’s pretty darn cute.

Anyway, so I glance over and notice he’s there, but I keep typing away on my keyboard. Then I glance again and notice that he has no intention of moving. Oh, no. He’s standing there as if it’s the stage in the Kodak Theatre and I’m his audience of thousands. He’s still looking right at me.

I know, sometimes it takes me a while, but I finally realized that this wasn’t just a quick snippet of a song, rather he was trying to pull me out of my funk. So I stop typing and get into the moment…this precious moment that somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I recognize I really need right about now.

I turn toward him and see his eyes looking at me in a way only your own child can. I can’t help but smile. He’s lipsyncing to the song Bad Day but instead of Daniel Powter singing Bad Day, it’s the one from Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Alvin’s version of the song, Bad Day

It’s working. My cranky-wall cracks ever so slightly and I start to smile, but just a little grin.

Then, at just the right moment, right at this big crescendo, my daughter slides into view (on her knees, doing a sweeping slide that finishes with her left arm swinging up into the air for dramatic effect). She, too, holds a tablespoon mic in her right hand, and joins my son in the lipsyncing extravaganza. Our dog feels the good vibes (or something) and trots over happily, wanting to share in this jubilant affair.

The whole performance is enough to make me stand up at the end, with a huge grin on my face and a really warm feeling inside, wrap my arms around both of my kids and just revel in this amazing moment. The kids are absolutely beaming. They know what works for me, how to make me smile, what can bring a smile to my face (as long as I choose to let it in).

How can all that translate to you? Well, I could say, “You should buy the Alvin & the Chipmunks tune, have your kids learn the words to Bad Day and sing for you.” But that seems like asking a lot and wouldn’t necessarily translate.

No, I just offer you this: when you’re having a really lousy day (like Alexander’s or like mine or whatever kind of day is your kind of bad day), dig way down to get to that place where you can throw off the mask that we often hide behind as adults and then look at your kids. You know, really look at your kids. If they’re not singing, then try to imagine them singing. Or pick up a picture of them when they’re asleep or when they’re being their most adorable.* It will melt you and get you back to a place where you can more easily choose love, compassion and kindness. The place where your heart wants to be. It’s a glorious place. Really. And it’s the key to getting past those bad days moments.

More4Kids photo

Love’s hard to beat.

It’s moments like those that make being a mom really, really great.

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Images from Amazon and Google Images (including the one from here).

*This reference is to a post from another one of my blogger friend’s blogs, The Busy Dad Blog within which he shows a great picture of his son, affectionately referred to as Fury, at one of his most adorable moments. See what I mean? Makes you melt…and hopefully will do so even more when it’s your own.

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9 Comments

Filed under Children, family, life, parenting, personal, Thoughts

9 responses to “When You Have a Bad Day…

  1. A very well-put, very necessary post. I’m very lucky in the sense that I was born patient, but there are moments when I get frazzled (like when we’re running late – being late stresses me out). At those times, I just make it a point to laugh at something – anything! It could be one hair sticking up on my son’s head (thanks for linking to Fury’s pic!), or a funny choice of words he just used while whining or dawdling. It doesn’t matter. As long as I laugh, I regain perspective. It’s like a reset button. Sometimes laughing gets me in trouble (like the little incident about Fury’s wisecrack when I dropped the lego in my “no respect” post – my wife scolded fury for being rude and she saw no comedy in it. I on the other hand doubled over with laughter, which made me feel like an irresponsible parent), but I’d rather err on the side of being too lax than feeling guilty later about lashing out at my kid because I was upset about something totally unrelated.

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    [Well said, BD. I like your way of dealing with the time crunch — find something to laugh at. I know sometimes that’s a real challenge, but well worth the effort.

    — bmgmom]

  2. What a beautifully written, heartwarming post! Enough to make me start my own day with a smile!

    And yes, you’re so right, the warmth and joy your children can give you is priceless. One of my favorite moments is sitting together with the three of us on the large bed, each one tightly in one of my arms, reading one of their favorite books..
    I also, always have a picture of them with me.. My colleagues know that when I’m wearing that sheepish, happy grin on my face, yep.. I’m looking at their picture!

    But, you’re also very right in that you have to recognise those moments, cherish them, and conciously open your heart to them.. Thanks so much for reminding me again!

    [Thanks for your sharing your thoughts and such kind words.

    Oh, and I love story time, too. There’s nothing like it…

    — bmgmom]

  3. I couldn’t agree more with this post. I can get in some moods that an elephant couldn’t move, but my daughters have me figured out. I usually bury myself in the computer during these times. Sure enough, my daughters will come over to me and start being goofy, trying every joke in the book to crack that hard outer shell. Because they know that there’s a mushy dad inside. And it usually works.

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    [Isn’t it great to have that (sort of like a loving reminder that it’s all going to be okay)?

    — bmgmom]

  4. Kim

    What a great post. I can’t tell you how many times my three year old has driven me to the point of breaking only to turn around a second later and do something silly or sweet to make me forget what a bad mood I was in just moments before.

    Thanks for the awesome reminder.

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    [My pleasure, Kim. Thanks for that!

    — bmgmom]

  5. missivesfromsuburbia

    I’m so honored to be mentioned in such a beautiful post. Today is one of those days for me — I’m having a bad reaction to some vaccinations I got yesterday, and I feel like crap. But then my kiddo walked over to me, pulled up the back of my shirt and began laying kisses on my back. Well, okay, on my love handles. But it was just so darned sweet!

    Thanks for reminding me how much attention those moments deserve, especially on days like this!!

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    [Oh, isn’t that just fantastic!? What a sweetie. 🙂

    — bmgmom]

  6. ….And here I thought I was the only mom that told her child can you give me a moment : )

    Nice blog…

    Track Mom

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    [Thanks! I really think it’s important to take a little time (even if it really is just a little) for ourselves.

    — bmgmom]

  7. As I was reading your post, I was thinking to myself some sort of sarcastic, cynical (but oh so witty) comment. Then, I let it linger. I let your post slip into my head. Let me tell you that I am happy I did.

    This is a beautiful and heart-warming post. I am grateful for the reminder.

    Of course, none of this will matter the second I step foot in my house tonight and my 10 year old is having one of his daily temper tantrums and not getting his homework done. But, for a brief moment, it feels good to be reminded to stop and remember the good.

    Thank you!

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    [Thanks, Dan! I hear you about the homework protests. Thanks for another sweet comment!!
    😉

    — bmgmom]

  8. Hear hear! My kids always cheer me up when I’m down. My wife and I were upset about something one time, and Sarah (our oldest) came to me and said, ‘Daddy, don’t cry, you’re pretty!’ I couldn’t cry any more, I was laughing so hard. 🙂

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    [Oh, that’s absolutely precious. Nothing beats love…

    — bmgmom]

  9. That was a great post. I appreciate that you really let us see and feel how your day progressed. It felt way too familiar.

    Kudos to you for noticing that your kids were working to pull you out of a funk and not just goofing off. I fail to pick up on this sometimes.

    True. True. – Chas

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    [Thanks. I’ll have to come back and read these words of encouragement the next time a stressful day comes our way.

    — bmgmom]