An open note to my children (to be read every January)

Dearest children,

I probably owe you an apology. I do not like January. This stems in part from my deep-seeded disdain for cold weather.

I love Christmas time. But when it’s over, it’s all downhill for a little while.

I’m sorry this means there must be a significant decline in presents, vacation days, and festivities in general.
I’m sorry this means we have to return to routines like chores and homework and early bedtimes.
I’m sorry this means the period of un-rationed goodies is over (unless you’re me).

Another reason I don’t like January is we always get sick in January. Right now I can only breathe out of one nostril. During this past week alone, our house has been graced with coughing, fever, vomit, diarrhea, croup, congestion, and oh, another urinary tract infection.

Dirty dishes and dirty laundry piles sit a little longer in January. You may want to get used to me saying things like, “Who wants to make macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight?”

While some moms see January as an opportunity to rekindle their love affair with the gym, your mom sees January as an opportunity to eat Toaster Strudels and Reese’s peanut butter cups for lunch.

I just want to reassure you that I still love you. I wish I had any desire to play Princess Chutes and Ladders with you, but I don’t. I’m afraid that January is the one month out of the year that if you want to spend quality time with your mother, you probably need to start reading Pride & Prejudice, or take a sudden interest in Latin music, or save up your allowance for a trip to Europe or a warm location of your choice (or even better, my choice.).

I have no idea why you were so lucky to be born into my care, but I promise I’ll try harder to wade my way through January and be the kind of mom you deserve.  Remember that I’m a pretty rockin’ mom in the summertime.

Feel free to print out this picture and tape it on a Popsicle stick and wave it in my face as needed.

When you do, I will try really hard to count to ten in my brain and get over it.

Much love,

Your mother

P.S. Your dad is a rock star in January because he steps it up a lot, and he’s not nearly as irritable as I am.  I love him all year, but especially in January.

P.P.S.  I’m really not as pathetic as this letter makes me sound.  I do plenty of good stuff in January too.  Let’s just say that the ratio of good stuff is a little more sparse than usual, and I’m keenly aware of it.

P.P.P.S.  Would it be presumptuous of me to alter President Monson’s quote to say “Courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow [next month]'”?

Some days probably shouldn’t be journaled.

My first clue that today wasn’t going to be great was my Facebook status at 7 a.m.: “I made the mistake of reading the morning news headlines. People are stupid. And now I’m in a bad mood.” Note to self: Don’t do that anymore. It totally sucks the positive energy out of your day. From that point on, everything bugged me. The weather, the Cheerios on the floor, the last-minute scrambles for gloves/coats/boots on the way out the door to the bus, the lame breakfast options, the fact that I live here, and my friends all seem far away (because they ARE), old people shouldn’t be allowed to drive, etc. You get the point —–> Grumpy!

I’ve never struggled with any serious depression or anything (and don’t worry, I don’t credit myself for that other than luck), but I’ve noticed that I do have a lot more “bad days” in the wintertime. Today was one of those. I volunteered at Clark’s school with some very nice people who were kind and helpful, but I still couldn’t shake off the negative energy. So by the time I picked up Natalie from preschool, I could tell I needed to be more proactive about my mood status, so we went to a bakery and I bought a peanut butter brownie. That helped a little, except that there was this woman there who had obviously done so much plastic surgery to herself that she looked awful, and then I started hating the universe again. (I can already tell I’m going to regret this post.) I started having conversations with myself that were half-pathetic and half-existential. “I wonder if everyone in the world is weird, and I’m the only normal one?, or maybe everyone else is normal and I’m just weird?” (Remember I had read bad headlines this morning and I was already mad at those people.) So in a moment of self-pity, I said to Natalie, who was happily munching her cupcake, “Natalie, are you glad I’m your mommy?” She quickly replied, “I like daddy.” “I know you like daddy, but are you glad I’m your mommy?” She kept her head still but pointed her eyeballs up at the ceiling, “N-O, no.” She said something like, “Alright, alright, I’m just kidding…. yeeesss,” but overall, my trip to the bakery wasn’t that helpful either.

My next attempt at improvement was a little less stellar, but overall more effective.  When we got back to the house, I stuck “Olivia Takes Ballet” in the DVD player and selected “Play All.”  I told Natalie I was going to go lie down, and I did.  I quickly dozed off (Oh, how I love a nap!) and slept for about 40 minutes.  I heard Clark come home from school and I opened my eyes and knew I needed to get up and face the music.  (Music is a code word for a chaotic blend of snacks, chores, homework, squabbling, and other kid-induced discomfort.) I stared out the window for a minute and my eyes fell on my scriptures on the bedside table.  I thought, “Maybe I should read my five pages now instead of waiting until bedtime.”  It helped a lot.  I read about Lehi’s dream and how he found himself in a “dark and dreary world,” and I thought about how it really is dark and dreary sometimes, but then he prayed to the Lord and pleaded for mercy and was brought out of that darkness into a spacious field where he could see the Tree of Life and find his way to the joy that it offered.  So I thought about how we don’t have to get stuck in that dreary part or get tricked into thinking that’s all there is because the Lord can help us find bright open spots with a better view and blessings in sight.  By that time, Grant was home from school, too, and Clark burst in the room yelling about something, so I still have one page left to finish tonight.  And that’s pretty much when my day started over.  Thank goodness.

So I’m going to try to think of a bright, spacious field with a glowy, shiny tree full of joy-fruit the next time things seem dark and dreary, which happens sometimes in the winter. Peanut butter brownies, naps, and exotic beachfront getaways are nice, too.  Two out of three ‘aint bad.

One day into summer and we might need therapy

Yesterday was the last day of school in these-here parts.  An exciting time, right?  And somehow it turned into another one of those mom’s-expectations-hit-the-fan experiences.

My plan:

  1. Happy welcome home from school hugs
  2. Last day after-school snack: Happy hour at Sonic
  3. Look through all their fun end-of-the-year papers and awards
  4. Let kids stay up until 10 pm! for the first day of summer and watch basketball or a movie together
  5. Get ready for camping (I already ran out and bought $90/worth of fun vacation food)
  6. Go on a 3-day camping trip as our summer kickoff activity.  Ride bikes, hike, cook camp food
  7. Sit in a lawn chair and read books and work on my talks for EFY next week
  8. Start preparing the summer “master schedule” that will begin next week.

Reality:

  1. Boys dropped backpacks and bags on the garage floor and ran outside to play baseball.
  2. “Maybe later, mom” at the suggestion of Sonic.  Then proceeded to throw baseball bat (at play) and hit my van with it.  Time out.  Ensuing arguing, crying and continued bad behavior.  Missed happy hour.
  3. They dumped out all their papers in my entryway and wouldn’t pick them up.  “That’s not mine.”
  4. Bedtime at 7:30.  I’m done with everyone.
  5. Watched news and saw weather report:  3 full days of pouring rain.
  6. Canceled camping trip.  Can’t think of a single back-up plan to do in the rain on no budget.
  7. I guess I’ll have to prepare my talks with three cabin-fevered children.
  8. Dang it.  I need the summer schedule now, but I still haven’t thought through it all the way because I thought I still had time.

Help?