Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hitting the Wall

Yesterday, at about 3:30 PM, I hit the wall. We are on week two of the allergy cough that will not end. No one can sleep. No one feels well. It was a little novel yesterday. Unlike most days, I didn't yell. I didn't descend into a weepy pity party. Instead, I got detached and distant.

I look around at my three kids, one who regressed into a toddler style temper tantrum, the actual toddler who shrieked with teething pain, and my five year old, who suddenly decides in this moment to urgently request a spelling lesson. Along the barking dog, the piles of urine stained laundry, the upcoming need for dinner prep, my unread Bald phonics book and the perky County Student Services Counselor who insisted "Mrs. Benjamin, you need to preserve a portfolio of ALL of your daughters work and record ALL of the hours she's spent in home-schooling. She needs all 8, just the same as if she was in public school!"

I looked at all of the log jam of human needs in my life and decided in this cool, detached manner "this is completely ridiculous! It is completely ridiculous to think I can be a wife, mother 3 young children, and run a household all while trying to survive my first year as a teacher."

"One of the hardest things about mothering," as I explained bitterly to my husband on the telephone, "is that you can't step outside for a cigarette break." Not that I've ever smoked a cigarette. I just really, really crave running outside and having a moment to collect yourself while the chaos rolls on without you for a while.

I don't have cigarettes, which is a good thing. I do have my Catholic faith. So I went down to my little Marian alter and started praying. I found I couldn't focus on our Blessed Mother. When I get in this state, I feel like she's "too perfect." What does she know about the bitterness of these days? With an immaculate heart, how could she ever get as agitated and depleted as me.

I found that I could pray to Saint Anne, her mother. Saint Anne, who had the impossible task. How do you home-school a girl who has never existed before in the whole human race? So I prayed silently to Saint Anne. It wasn't a pure prayer, one bursting with faith and confidence. It was pretty whiny and pretty thread bare. It was real and from the heart.

There was no immediate lightening bolt of an answer. My two miserable, allergy prone kids continued crying through most of the day. I stepped on a sliver of glass in the kitchen. As I soaked in the bathtub to try to get the splinter out, the repairmen appeared to fix my broken washer. On and on, and so forth.

Grace was clear, nevertheless.

I had a beautiful chat with two close Catholic friends. I *heart* having real Catholic friends in my life. A spelling EXPERT from the UK emailed me with advice for how best to teach phonics to Hannah. My husband came home in a great mood and gave me a big hug. He handled the bedtime/bath routine while I got to "relax" at Kinkos.

I relished my time alone at Kinkos. I realize it's odd to describe xeroxing Childrens' phonic workbooks as a "vacation," but I didn't care. Plenty of time to get a task done, quite, time alone in my thoughts.

Afterwards, I picked up some candy for Trick-or-Treat tomorrow. We're going with the All Saints Day theme. Chocolate eyeballs for Saint Lucy, Chocolate ears for Saint Peter, and chocolate teeth with Saint Allophonious.

They are my dear friends, these Saints. I only pray that more and more kids will request a handhold from the communion of saints whenever their days get rough.

3 comments:

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

We all get there, friend!

I'm in a mode myself wondering if I'm doing the right thing, if my kids are learning anything.

I'll say some prayers for you today!

noreen said...

What an amazing post. I am right there with you, down to a sliver in my foot. I don't know how you do it all, but if you're breakdown involves talking to St. Anne, I think you're rocking it!

Tienne said...

Wow, hon. I'm so impressed with the way you handled that kind of stress! Thank you for sharing your insights.