Slivers of grace

balloons-black-backgroundYesterday was one of those days where I felt like a spectacular failure at the job of motherhood.

It was, in my defense, hotter than heck.  At one point I looked at the thermometer in the hall and it said 91.  That’s inside the house, mind.   It is very hard to keep one’s patience in such infernal heat.  And when you have a toddler who wants to do everything himself, and who throws a fit if you don’t let him, and then who takes forever to wash his hands or climb onto the toilet — you know, deliberately moving in slo-mo, just because he’s two and that’s his job — well, one finds oneself being horribly snappish and borderline mean.  And then when the toddler in question does not inform you that he needs to use the potty, and you end up with a disgusting mess which I won’t even attempt to describe because it would totally repulse even me , and I’ve already been repulsed once today– well, that doesn’t help either.

Add the fact that your husband is in the garage all day with the neighbor across the street and with a huge snake rented from Home Depot so the two of them can clear out the pipes that have been causing the washing machine to leak and the toilet to bubble ominously every time someone showers.  This project, totally neccessary though it may be, means that you can’t flush the toilet, not even when you have the contents of a disgusting diaper to get rid of.   It also means that you must use water sparingly so that the open pipe does not back up and flow all over the floor of the garage, which has already happened once today.  And, of course, your toddler, not realizing the gravity of the plumbing repairwork going on, is washing his hands as if he will never again get another chance, lovingly and slowly, until you snappishly turn the water off — which, naturally, causes him to yell and turn it back on.

So yeah, it was that kind of day.

But you know what I’m learning about bad mothering days like this?   You can survive them if you have your antennae tuned to the little slivers of grace that are there, even in the midst of the desert heat and the unflushed toilet and the mound of laundry that is starting to reek.  If you can see the little bits of beauty in your kids, even on days when those little creatures seem destined to drive you to an early grave — well, you can make it through the uglies.

For me, this sliver of grace came at the end of the day.   There was some buildup to it:  my heroic husband and our heroic neighbor managed to clear the pipe, and said neighbor’s wonderful wife came and watched the boys for a hour while I had to run an errand.  After showers and cleanup, we bundled the boys into the car and drove to the air-conditioned bliss of a local burger joint .

And after dinner, each of the boys got a balloon.  Matthew, who loves them, was in heaven with his.  And Lukey — who has managed to get through eleven months of life without ever interacting with a balloon — was a treat to watch.  Scott held the string, and jerked it up and down so it bobbed right near Lukey’s highchair, and he threw his head back and stared at it, this floating green thing, this amazing object that he could pull down only to see it sail up again.  It was pure poetry, that little face staring up at the balloon in unabashed wonder that such things could exist.

See what I mean?  Slivers of grace.

A mom can go a long way on moments like this one.

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