Some weeks start upside down.
In fact, it was only last week I spent my first working hour on the phone with the Parents Helpline (1300 1300 52 just in case you are interested).
It had been one of those mornings that you would easily be excused for thinking only exist in movies.
Keep in mind the school bus arrives at 810am.
It was 720am when child 2 pulled her finally clean sports uniform from the washing machine and neatly placed in front of the gas heater to dry. Of course this was supposed to happen a whole day before, or even perhaps 3 days before when I had started to call for uniforms to be washed over the weekend.
By 745am she discovered I’d added another load of washing to the socks she’d left lying in the washing machine and I found her lying – YES, lying in the dirty washing that she’d thrown in front of the machine watching the front loader complete its’ cycle.
It’s fair to say my head almost popped off. However, it’s not fair to say (as my daughter would later note) that I started yelling. I was (I kept telling her) speaking ‘sternly’.
To her credit she did manage to get out the door to meet the bus on it’s 835am return trip (how smart was I to move us to a place where the bus visits twice in the morning). Whether her socks, and for that matter uniform were actually dry by that stage I’ve honestly no idea.
Nevertheless, the wonderful woman on the parenting line and I eventually agreed this child is going to be just fine in the world. We agreed that I’m probably going to be wasting my breath to try and get this one to be tidier or more organised, however, continuing to demonstrate consequences and responsibility would be a good strategy.
More importantly, that call had really changed the trajectory of my day. I’d had the opportunity to vent, I received some excellent, non-biased and safe advice and I had an opportunity to put things in perspective. I’d asked for help and received it.
The very same afternoon I had the opportunity for some treasured time with my two girls. Perhaps it was the relaxed environment, perhaps it was that she’d been savouring it all day? I’m not sure, but for whatever reason my girl decided it would be a great time to unpack the morning.
“So” she started “you didn’t really achieve a lot from yelling at me this morning did you”.
Perhaps I glared.
“I got on the bus on time, my uniform was on, my lunchbox was packed” I had to concede she had a point there. That could have been enough, except it wasn’t.
“when you yell like that mum…” (I still say I didn’t yell) “you set the whole house off like barking dogs”. Then she started to truly apply her creative mind “but I’m not a dog, I’m a cat, sitting there calmly”. Yes, this really was said.
I took a breath, it was going to be another lost argument. I’m only just keeping up with her and outwitting this child is not likely to happen.
Our day concluded with a drive down the highway following afternoon sport. A wild storm and torrential rain accompanied this evening commute, as if punctuation for a crappy day. As we drove into our hometown youngest called out “let’s give mum a round of applause for her good driving”. The car erupted in a round of applause coupled by cheers. Had I accidentally transcended into a Disney movie? Had someone accidentally slipped something weird into my afternoon tea?
Nup, it was just another reminder that life is a freakin weird rollercoaster – and the very best you can do is to just hold on for the next dip, rise and freefall. Somehow I’d gone from vicious dictator to household hero.
I smiled at the weirdness thoroughly enjoying the contrast to the day’s beginning.
That day reminded me of something that’s so important… It’s always OK to ask for help.