Do you ever have those days where you just want to quit? Sometimes I fantasize about saying “I’m out! Get someone else to take care of it!” Because it all seems like too much: The grocery shopping. Scheduling all the appointments. Making lunches. Having the homework battles. Dealing with the school. Paying bills. Refilling the medications. Reminding your kid to get off their phone. Again. Getting more toilet paper from the linen closet (can’t someone else just do that ONCE?!?) Cleaning out the litter box. Taking care of everyone. Trying to take care of myself. All of it.
I was having one of those mornings today. I was cranky and tired and feeling really sorry for myself. I was angry with myself for scheduling more than I thought I could possibly get done today. Plus I had not cleaned up the kitchen from last night and my son needed an extra snack to bring to school for his track meet – meaning more work for me on a morning where I was already feeling stressed. Then there was the straw that broke the camel’s back – I found a nice, big oily piece of salmon skin on the floor by my desk. Ugh! Disgusting!
Here is the back story: Last night we had salmon for dinner. When we were done eating, one of the cats had snuck up onto the table and pulled this piece of salmon skin off my daughter’s plate. My daughter – my smart, responsible, wonderful daughter, who last night told me she would clean it up – did not. Well, that was it. I was furious and ready to shout “I quit!” I mean, what the #*@& was she thinking?!? I was so ready to let her have it, dump all my pent up rage on her and lecture her about how she had to be more responsible. Despite this impulse to yell at her, I did my best to stay calm. I asked her why she didn’t pick up the salmon skin. She said, a little sheepishly yet with complete sincerity, “I wanted to see what would happen.”
And that is when it happened. My heart melted. While this may not have been the most worthy experiment she has undertaken, it was hard for me not to appreciate her genuine curiosity. Would the cats enjoy this delicious special treat? She really thought they would love it and eat it all up. Well, now we know the answer: they will play with it a little bit, leaving a trail of fish oil on the floor, and then they will place it under my desk chair as a gift for me.
I laughed and reminded her that fish is oily, goes bad really fast and is not the kind of thing you want to leave out overnight for the cats to play with. She got it, apologized and cleaned it all up before she left for school.
As I reflect back, I am glad that I had the wherewithal to suppress my worst impulses and remain calm. Instead of assuming the worst of my daughter and acting on that assumption, I let myself be open to her reality. And her reality was actually a lot more interesting than my assumption. In fact, connecting with her reality helped me get out of my own head. I still have a busy day, but I am no longer feeling sorry for myself. I am marveling at my daughter’s innocence, feeling proud of myself for not losing my temper and feeling proud of my daughter for taking responsibility for her salmon skin experiment. And I have decided that at least for today, I am not going to quit.