Saturday, January 8, 2011

Surprises: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly

            I work about four days a week for a giant home furnishings store. We are having a sale right now. We only have two sales a year so sale time is insanely busy for us. It isn’t unusual for us to do over a half-million dollars in sales each day on the weekend during a sale. Sunday and even Monday were very busy and stressful days. Customers have been particularly demanding and easily disappointed lately. I was really looking forward to my day off on Tuesday.
            Tuesday unfortunately, I was greeted shortly before 6 am with a frantic, half-naked, eight-year-old in my face yelling, “Mom! James is throwing up.” Needless to say, it wasn’t quite the day off I had planned. Fortunately, my little guy is not a particularly demanding patient and his bug was pretty short-lived. Unfortunately my well-thought out “to do” list was left out in the cold.
            Wednesday I was feeling the effects of not getting myself as pulled together as I had planned on Tuesday. I’m pretty sure that the medication I’m on is really messing with my hormones. I was stressed and full of self-doubt. I wasn’t prepared for my day (and I need to be prepared—it’s my safety net). I over-reacted completely and yelled at the kids for something that just wasn’t that big a deal. I was anticipating a horrific day at work—and it lived up to the anticipation. Fortunately I knew I had Thursday off, so that got me through the day.
            My husband (God bless him!) was a very calming influence on me Wednesday night. He encouraged me to order pizza for dinner so I didn’t have to cook and he checked the boys’ homework. When I’m feeling that frazzled, 3rd grade arithmetic might as well be advanced calculus. We got through our Cub Scout Den meeting and after the boys were in bed we had some quiet time and a couple of drinks. I had a great night’s sleep Wednesday night, which I desperately needed.
I woke early on Thursday and managed to get some writing done. The boys were ready for school early. I was calm and peaceful. There was no yelling. About 20 minutes before we needed to walk to the bus stop, I went upstairs to prioritize my “to do” list and throw on some work out clothes—I had planned on hitting the gym after I got them off to school. I took one look at the calendar and realized that I didn’t have the day off. I had Friday off.
            Thanks to my lovely and restful evening. I just took it in stride. I told the boys that I was going to need a little extra cooperation to get us all to school and work. They came through like champs. The “to do” list would have to wait another day. Yes, I was looking forward to working out and going to Trader Joe’s. And yes, I really do need to sort through the ever-increasing pile of papers in the dining room. But I realized the world would not come crashing down if those things waited another day.
            I realized (as always—much too late) that anticipating a rough time and stressing about it always makes matters seem worse. Yes, my son was sick—but he wasn’t that sick and he wasn’t sick for long. No, I didn’t get to the gym when I wanted to—but I hardly went at all during the months of November and December and I managed to survive. Yes, customers were mean and nasty to me about things I couldn’t control—but when I go home my kids fling themselves into my arms so hard their affection nearly knocks me over.
            Because I had let go of all of my little annoyances and allowed the love and affection of my family to heal my anxieties, I could handle it. If I had been in that place of stress and frustration I found myself earlier in the week, I wouldn’t have made it through on Thursday. Instead I looked at the calendar, took a deep breath and got ready for work. Instead of being overly irritated by my mistake, I was just grateful that I had a uniform that was clean and ironed. And having a Friday off is way better than having a Thursday off anyway.