"Oh, this has been such a Jonah day, Marilla. I'm so ashamed of myself." (L.M Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, p 92)
I had a real pig of a day yesterday. A day when nothing (or very little) seemed to go as it should, when every tiny thing was a battle or an effort. A day where everyone, most assuredly including myself, was out of sorts and querulous and impatient and fractious. A day of worrying and dark imaginings and feeling overwhelmed. A day of not rising to the challenge with grace (ha!) or good humour (HA HA!) or indeed at all, but just sulking and wishing myself elsewhere.
Each little thing taken by itself wasn't such a big deal. It started with a bad night's sleep for me, where I woke with a headache and to settle the toddler at 3am. She was back asleep within 10 minutes, but I, for some reason I don't recall, stubbornly decided not to take any Panadol for my head. Thus, I couldn't settle back to slumber until almost 6, only to be woken for the day at the toddler's usual 6:30am. Still with a headache.
Then the big girls squabbled steadily from rising until leaving for school, which is unusual for them, and pretty grating after about 10 minutes, let alone 1.5 hours. This resulted in quite a lot of ultimately ineffective parental shoutiness from both G and I. The toddler then picked this as an ideal time to refuse to eat her breakfast, dance across the table, and sit down in the 7 year old's bowl of Weetbix, creating much drama.
Having delivered the big kids to school just before the bell, the toddler and I headed off to visit my mother in law, stopping at a bakery and a pharmacy on the way, whereupon I managed to drop and break a $28 bottle of iron liquid tonic - the last one the pharmacy had in stock - as I left the shop, because the toddler decided to bolt for the road and I had to ditch my parcels to grab her. The 1.5 hours we spent with my MIL was probably the best stretch of the day for me, as the toddler enjoyed looking at and feeding the chookies, ate her morning tea without incident, and I got to drink an entire cup of tea without harassment. My MIL's yard is huge and securely fenced, so runaway 2 year old could explore and take off to her heart's content (and did).
Of course, never one to leave a peaceful moment alone, my curious and super-active toddler decided to quietly strip most of the unripe tomatoes off my sister in law's prize-winning heritage tomato plant and dump them in the chook's water to see them float. "Yittle geen balls, Mummy!" she proclaimed proudly, as MIL and I looked at each other in silent horror, I resigning myself to the inevitable outraged phone call I would get that evening when SIL went out to water her vegetables.
Home again to discover that birds had comprehensively crapped all over the majority of my half-line of washing - about 2 loads' worth - due, I suspect, to the dog startling them with his rapid as they perch nearby. While I was muttering under my breath and pulling soiled clothes down, the toddler upended the dog's water bowl over her head, put the empty bowl carefully on the ground, took her nappy off and weed in it. "Yook! Outside potty, Mummy!" she exclaimed gleefully.
"...!" sez I.
Inside, I put on a Spot DVD for C, and started paying bills online, discovering, to my horror, that I'd forgotten all about the car insurance and it was now lapsed.
After Spot, I was starting to think the day was improving, as C sat on my knee and ate her lunch calmly while I read her stories. OK, OK, things are looking up, I thought, as my little sweetheart snuggled in. This is nice, I feel better...
Then the phone rang.
It was the school office. My 5 year old, who'd been so uncharacteristically grizzly and quarrelsome in the morning, was there with a headache and generally feeling icky. I offered to come get her but the school secretary suggested a dose of Panadol first, which I agreed to. She assured me they'd ring back if she didn't improve.
All the way through C's half-hour breastfeed before her nap, I was on a tenterhooks, expecting the phone to ring, and worrying like hell about 5-year-old E and her 7-year-old sister who's been having repeated headaches for weeks. I started to feel sick thinking about it all.
C napped for an hour and a half, during which time I managed to get some rice paper rolls made for a birthday party we're attending tomorrow. I also rehung the washing and ate my own lunch. Then I threw it up, which was excellent.
Up to school for assembly, which was an exercise in chasing C around the hall in mounting frustration, to be followed by a gentle ticking off from E's teacher for not having come to fetch her, despite the fact that the office had not called me back and she had improved from the Panadol. After assembly I let the kids have a play on the playground for half an hour with some friends, where they took the opportunity to filthy up their clothes and each accrue at least one injury, accompanied by screaming.
By this stage, my judgement was somewhat impaired, otherwise I never would have made the dubious decision to go ahead with Plan A and take them off to the local shopping centre to buy new sneakers. I will grant that the sneakers were successfully acquired and that both the 7 and 5 year olds were cheerful and helpful. Buuut the 2 year old ran. Every. Where. All. The. Time. Fast. And when I picked her up to prevent the running off, she screeeeeeeamed. And wriggled, and kicked, and pushed, and pulled my hair. I cursed myself repeatedly for not bringing the pusher with me (brain fail! brain fail!!)
Then, riding the travelator to the food court to buy a donut for each kid, I saw two head lice merrily jumping around on the 5 year old's head. Her class had been lice-checked earlier in the week, due to a head lice case in the class, and E had been proclaimed clear. Not so! A happy Saturday of family delousing beckons!
By this stage E was starting to look a bit peaky again and so we purchased the donuts and bundled into the car to go get G from work. At his workplace, C ran, E moped and was hot to the touch, and A, who had been getting sniffier by the minute, snorted into tissues. I sat slumped with my head in my hands.
On the way home, C screamed for the Wiggles. E slept, her breathing shallow and rapid, her head on fire. A stared out the window. I almost cried.
G dropped E and I at home and bore the eldest and youngest off in search of food. I dosed E with Panadol after taking a temp of almost 39 degrees. Boy, did I feel like a good mother (not). She lay on the couch watching TV while I attempted to restore some order to the house.
The others returned, we ate (except for E), and baths and showers happened. C promptly pooed in the bath, just for extra difficulty points.
(As I'm writing this, my 7 year old, who is reading over my shoulder, is giggling. She just said, "It's funny now, but it wasn't funny then!" OH SING IT, SISTER.)
After another few rounds of squabbles, yelling and general bad behaviour on everyone's part, the big girls (E with her temp back to normal, thankfully) went to bed, and I settled down to give C her bedtime breastfeed in my bed, so I could lie down and contemplate the awfulness of the day in peace. One mercy was that she fed quietly, and then went to bed easily at 9pm, without requiring me to lie down in her room as she often does.
Then my phone pipped with a text message. Stuff YOOOOOOOU! I thought in defeat, and clambered into bed with a Terry Pratchett book and a cup of herbal tea, and fell asleep half an hour later, exhausted in mind, body and spirit.
Given my personality, I am tempted to blame myself for many of the ructions of the day, which I would have managed differently (and probably largely prevented) if I'd been on my A game. But I guess, like Marilla tells Anne, "We all make mistakes ... but people forget them. And Jonah days come to everybody."
And today, well, it's a new day.