Last Wednesday I was grumpy. Seriously grumpy. Remember that post I wrote about how the best thing about going on vacation was coming home again? I lied.
After a few days of the I-missed-my-kids-so-much-that-it’s-good-to-be-home glow, Wednesday smacked me right back into reality. It started with–what else?–chaperoning a field trip for my son’s second-grade class. Field trips are always the least fun “fun” day of the year, but last week’s was particularly grisly as it was spent at Sacajawea State Park, which resides on what is currently the freezing, windy banks of the Columbia River. Squinting and goosebumped, we stood numbly in the blustery squall for hours; really, we were like the Donnor party out there. Due to the weather, half the park staff didn’t show up, so upon arrival we learned that of the four “activity stations” they’d promised for the kids, exactly none would be delivered. The kids were so devastated that they spend the next three hours screaming and running around, playing Duck Duck Goose and wondering why all the grownups were huddled together in winter coats with the hoods cinched up.
I came home cold, tired and grumpy, with a long afternoon and evening ahead of me as the Hub was, once again, out of town. (Did I mention we were back to reality?) The kids tumbled home from school with friends in tow and I decided that the only way to flush out my grumpiness was to spend the rest of the day cleaning my house. See, I always try to take my worst mood of the week apply it to Cleaning Day. That way I never waste a good mood on housework; it all gets done in one big, fat, sick day. I’d wake up Thursday morning to a clean house, folded laundry, and No Field Trip. An airtight plan, for sure. And for sure I’d no longer be grumpy.
My plan failed. Not that I didn’t execute it; I did. I scrubbed the house top-to-bottom and worked on the laundry until bedtime. I read to Ethan and got the older kids to bed but by the time my husband called at 10:30, rather than the exhiliration of productivity, I just felt more grumpy. Grumpy that I hadn’t slept well all week and was just so tired. Grumpy that he was gone again. Grumpy that I looked so old in my vacation photos. Grumpy that, after three hours on my feet at the field trip and another seven on my feet at home I was still surrounded by mile-high piles of laundry that would now have to be dealt with the next day. Sometimes it hits me, the sheer number of hours–days, weeks–I’ve spent in the course of my lifetime doing other people’s laundry. If I let myself think about it too much, I’ll just get grumpy.
I went to bed exhausted, but was so grumpy that I didn’t doze off until around 1 am, so you can imagine what a great mood I was in the next morning. I scrambled to get the kids breakfast and to school on time, and just as I was telling Ethan (again) to hurry and brush his teeth, he grabbed my hands and said, “Mom close your eyes. I have a surprise for you.” Ethan goofs around alot (um, understatement), so I ignored his request and said, “Ethan…teeth…now!”
“But Mom, I have a surprise for you! Close your eyes.”
“No! We don’t have time to play. You can show me your surprise later.”
“Mom, please!” Ugh.
“Okay, but hurry.” He made sure my eyes were closed, then held both my hands and led me into my bedroom.
The little guy had made my bed. All by himself, as best as he could. Because he knew I was grumpy.
I thought it looked perfect. And after that, I wasn’t grumpy anymore.