It could be worse. That's what I keep telling myself.
Within an hour of waking, I stubbed my toe, dribbled toothpaste on my shirt and broke a glass. Next up: We're out of coffee filters and the dishwasher's making a funny sound.
And the entire time my kids are at each other's throats. Mom! this and Mom! that. Gah! Driving. Me. Nuts. I wish I could fast-forward to tomorrow's fresh start—or at least to 10 pm, when the kids are sleeping.
Thirteen hours and counting.
On the bright side, it's a beautiful day. Sunny, but not too hot, with a few well placed cotton candy clouds. The oldest is off to the skate park with his friends, so I order the remaining two outside in an attempt to snap us out of this collective funk. We'll get some fresh air, a little gardening done and maybe even start getting along. Not for one second holding my breath on that last one, but a mom can dream, right?
I hand them each little square green berry-baskets and send them off to the raspberry patch, which they generally adore. Not today.
Ben flops down into the grass and groans as if he's dying a slow death. Em starts whining, "No! You can't make me!" so dramatically you'd think I was force-feeding her a plate of fried worms.
I have zero sympathy for either and at this point I'm running pretty low on patience too. "Enough!" I say. "Pick!" I plant my hands on my hips while administering the lingering, wide-eyed stare that signals I mean business. They pout and sulk off to pick, with Frankenstein-like limbs and the enthusiasm of rocks.
After grabbing my supplies from the gardening shed, I hole up in a shaded little flowerbed in the corner of the yard. It's close enough that I can see the occasional rustling bush or darting child, but far enough away that I cannot hear much short of a blood-curdling scream. Peace at last…kind of.
When I weed, all I can think about is what's gone wrong. It feels like everything. A stubbed toe here and there I can handle, but the dawning realization that I'm raising whiney little monsters that can't get along is harder to take. How did this happen? What are we doing wrong?
I'm so deep in thought that the tiny tap on my shoulder makes me jump, but even more surprising is the sight in front of me. My two berry-stained kids — Ben's balancing two green baskets full of raspberries and Em has a hand behind her back. They glance at each other and yell, "Surprise!" as Em thrusts a bouquet of fresh-picked dandelions in my direction.
"For me?" I say, softening. "From the both of you, huh?" They nod.
OK, maybe we haven't gotten everything wrong.