Life is hard and sometimes it’s not the big events that make it so. Like a badly-played Jenga game, sometimes a week is mired in little frustrations stacked clumsily one upon another until all your intent to be mature and calm and put together comes crashing down around your ears. My intent this week was to be organized, efficient and productive. There’s a lot going on in our household, from remodeling to having company here to preparing for the start of the school year to senior care taking.
Frankly, life is feeling like a lot of straws on this camel’s back. Last weekend, I was stung by a yellow jacket wasp twice in our basement (a sure sign that we’ll be running a vacuum all fall trying to suck up the queens before they take permanent residence) and I got some sort of middle-aged sleep injury that feels like a torn muscle in my shoulder. My knee crumpled beneath me while doing a hip toss self defense move in taekwondo. It made a distinctly crunchy sound (ice, ice baby).
Yesterday the battery died in the car remote key, I stepped in cat barf after putting on clean socks, the Kikkoman soy sauce got knocked over in the fridge spilling on everything inside and out onto the floor and then I had to make a trip into downtown (hate driving there!) to pick up a sick husband. I try to give myself the “this is life, there are much worse things that can happen and isn’t it nice to be middle class with all these petty, minor complaints?” speech so I can “woman up” and move on with things.
The sports bra was really the last straw. For a mixed gender audience, let me just say that a sports bra, of the ilk that you can run and do fast round kicks in without knocking yourself out, is generally very snug and this particular kind is pulled over the head. This should not be attempted when half awake, slightly damp from a shower or in any attempt to look appealing to your significant other. They’re wonderful when on. It’s the getting there that really bites. After wrestling with what looked a tangled bungee cord around my armpits and neck, I finally gave in and had a good, blubbery cry. Now I can get on with things.
My company arrived last night. She is an old Army friend and has a son with a high degree of autism who is the same age as my daughter. He’s an escape artist – hence the quick remodel for a secure guest room. My friend was widowed when her son was a toddler. She’s struggled to take care of herself and her child over the years and despite whatever sense of failings she has about her parenting, he is a happy and safe child. She struggles with the need for constant flexibility – cancelled vacations, absent sitters, a child on the loose and her own personal grief about expectations gone awry. But the things that turn her day are just as small as things that turn mine – an evening of reading sabotaged by a rampant child, car troubles, a terrible recipe outcome, a backed up sink.
It’s good to have perspective and to even to develop a book series telling people not to sweat the little things, but it’s also okay to acknowledge that sometimes a stack of small things makes for a triple decker crappy day. I think it’s the denial, the peppy positive tag lines that make it so much worse. When I acknowledge that a sports bra can knock me down, that it’s just the kind of day I’m having, I’m already preparing to get back up. I’m rewriting the narrative for humorous retelling down the road. Perspective is good, but making someone else laugh with you about the silly, frustrating things that happen in daily life is magic.