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A Pretty Good Bad Day

Yesterday I experienced what most would label as a bad day. It came as a surprise as I have been in pretty good spirits the past few months. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, all the tools I've been pocketing that have given me the skills needed to practice awareness, positivity, and mindfulness just slipped away.

Right at dawn, I noticed my meditation practice was off but I didn't pay too much attention to it not being as useful as usual. Then, as part of my early morning educational routine, I watched an interview with Oprah and the monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who beautifully shared his views on peace, compassion, and ways to deeply connect with ourselves and others. Normally, a talk like this would carry me through the day. But not yesterday.

The gloomy mood began with the resistance of my older son refusing to at least attempt implementing a schedule to help his day have more structure. In these crazy remote-learning days, we find that he isn't challenging himself as much as he could be. Regardless of how hard I tried to convince him that a set schedule is a key to a successful and productive day, even referencing several accomplished people who swear by the importance of doing so, he just refused to listen. Then, while trying to watch a video together which explains how to select classes for the Fall at his new high school, my impatience was further tested. He kept wanting to skip through slides, moving the cursor all over the screen, standing up to "shoot hoops" with table placemats. Miraculously, I somehow didn't lose my cool... yet. During my pleading of him to focus, Instacart rang our doorbell. My husband, sitting in just the other room, was calmly typing away through all this as if no doorbells were ringing, no children were yelling, or no signs of a mother struggling on the verge of tears, were all happening in one room over. When that bell rang, it served as my warning that I was about to snap. Being aware of the delicate moment, I nicely asked my care-free husband to accept the delivery. He happily did so and even put the groceries away. Another potentially volatile moment diffused, or so I thought. In poor timing, my daughter joined the chaos by overreacting when I wanted to review something with her to give her the feedback that she asked for. I just couldn't contain myself anymore. During the one-hour window that I just described in this short paragraph, I felt like I was in crazy land and wanted out. That's when I snapped.

My mind traveled to all these unattractive places: the tower of tears, the palace of pathetic, the fort of frustration. I was SO irate that my son couldn't sit still and be attentive while we were making decisions for his life, beyond irritated that my husband could sit through my pleas for my son to concentrate AND a delivery doorbell without intervening. I was more than annoyed by my daughter's huge fuss about me simply wanting to review her project with her. So that you don't wrongly assume that my middle one was an angel, I should clarify that he, too, was in on the plan to torture me yesterday. During lunch, while I was trying to get a smile out of him, he kept telling me to "stop" and repeatedly pointed out that I'm "not funny". Jeez, thanks. I actually think I am pretty funny. Yesterday I was mad. Mad at all of them.

Then it occurred to me that I was actually infuriated with myself. More so, I was disconcerted that I caved into anger and a thought process that would only serve me negatively. Disappointed that I allowed myself to wallow in my contempt. In fact, I consciously decided not to snap out of it and instead encouraged myself to continue down the path of bitterness which is the complete opposite of everything I have been learning and practicing the past several months.

In an odd turn of events, rather than rebuking myself for faltering, I learned that I actually wanted to revel in a little resentment and so I permitted myself to do so. I reminded myself that I am a pretty awesome mom. I also allowed myself to have a tantrum once every few months which usually results from months of tapping into my deepest reserves of tolerance and compassion. Magically, I was no longer upset at myself. Furthermore, I was determined to show my nonchalant crew that sometimes mom actually DOES get impacted by their behaviors and that she can't always be happy-go-lucky. They needed to know that people get PISSED OFF when you push them too much. In my case, yesterday they pushed me off the cliff and I had zero guilt over taking the plunge.

The beautiful outcome of yesterday's scenario is that for the first time in my role as a mother, I didn't beat myself up over yelling nor did I blame myself for overreacting. Instead, I granted myself the freedom to be angry, to not speak to them for the first hour of our sightseeing excursion, and to be OK with being upset.

My daughter was the first one to come to me to apologize for her earlier behavior. Her beautiful spirit quickly drew me back into a world of love that saved us from the silence we all sulked in. Then my sons chimed in. By dinner time, we were all back to the chatty, not-stop-conversing group that we are. My husband, on the other hand, I didn't forgive quite as quickly. Despite his several attempts to apologize for checking out while I was struggling to swim, I needed him to know just a little bit longer that I could follow his lead and conveniently check out too.

So, what's the lesson here? What did I learn from yesterday's tumultuous mood? I learned that sometimes a bad day is actually a good day. I learned that it is perfectly fine to stray from a certain path, in my case a road towards positivity and patience, in order to regain direction. Most importantly I learned to never torture myself again when I do lose my way. In reality, I wasn't lost at all and needed to take that detour to find what I was looking for yesterday: permission to be flawed, freedom to be angry, and the liberty to teach my family that mom has feelings too.

Unless you are Thich Nhat Hanh, it is impossible to always remain grounded, nonreactive, and even-keeled. Sometimes we need to be wrong so that we could ultimately be right. Maybe, just maybe, sometimes it is acceptable to just have a bad day.


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