The Mother Of All Bad Days: How Being Present Ended Up Being My Great Escape

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Life’s good these days.  I would  be hard-pressed to find much to complain about really.  I have a super sweet, easy-going kid, an equally sweet and even more easy-going husband, a job I enjoy and that helps with putting food on the table and a roof over our heads, and healthy family and friends.  Of course, like everyone, I could (and do regularly) wish for a larger salary, bigger (and self-cleaning) house, and thinner thighs but, in the grand scheme of things, I have a pretty awesome life.

Despite being grateful for the life I have been blessed with and happy with choices I have made, there are still those occasional really hard moments now and then, when I would like nothing more than to just jump in the car and drive far, far away.  You know the kind, when you are too tired to face the everyday struggles and are sick of the monotony of life.  Of course, with a young child and a husband who depend on me, speeding off and not looking back is not an option, or at least not one I would consider without being instantaneously filled with guilt and regret.

So what’s a girl to do? Drink more than the acceptable number of glasses of wine every night and drown her sorrows in copious amounts of chocolate? Sure, that could definitely work but personally I am too scared of accidentally becoming an alcoholic, or getting too fat to move off the couch, to try either of those coping mechanisms on too regular a basis.

Instead, I stumbled upon a surprisingly different tactic to escape the cloak of misery and frustration an exceptionally bad day (or week) can engulf us in.  It happened by accident really; I didn’t do much of anything to find it.  I’d had an unusually craptastic day at work, my husband was working late again and my normally cheerful, agreeable toddler was being well…a typical toddler.  By the time I had fed, bathed and read my 3 year old a million and one bedtime stories, followed by seventeen renditions of the alphabet song and he was finally asleep, I was beyond grumpy, feeling more than a little sorry for myself, and in desperate need of an escape from reality.

Alas, as if often the case when you are a parent, you just cannot drop everything and go do whatever you want.  You are bound by responsibilities, guilt and unfortunate timing, basically from the moment your offspring enters this big, wide world.  This was certainly true for me on this particular evening.  My husband was still at work and my son was asleep for the night.  I was in a miserable mood and dying to escape but I was ultimately trapped at home for at least another 2 hours until my husband got home.

My head was pounding and I was starving from skipping lunch and having not eaten supper yet too exhausted and lazy to make a meal just for myself. Needless to say, when my son finally closed his eyes and fell off to sleep, I was in no hurry to move from his bed where I was snuggled up beside him, despite my stomach growling and my hunger growing.  So, I remained laid beside him and watched him sleep.  It was after I had been gazing at him for about five minutes when I found that escape I had been yearning for earlier.  I watched his long, thick, black lashes flutter gently as he lay beside me dreaming.  His mop of blonde hair tousled and wild pressed against his pillow.  I leaned in close and kissed his soft, round cheek and got lost in his little boy scent.

All the anger, frustration and discontent I was feeling earlier vanished.  Instead, my feelings changed to gratitude, happiness and contentment.  My mind drifted to the years prior to having him, all the pain and disappointment we faced in our struggles to conceive, the months turning into years and the eventual 5 years feeling like an eternity.

As I remembered those challenging, heartbreakingly, difficult years, I became filled with a rush of love, my heart full and proud we made it through, and even more grateful for the most perfect, little person laying in bed beside me.  My foul mood disappeared and instead a feeling of calmness washed over me, relaxing the tension in my shoulders and erasing the frustration and crankiness I was feeling earlier.  I’d escaped my bad mood, not by running away, or gulping down an entire bottle of wine, or eating my weight in chocolate.

Instead, all it took was a quiet moment, focusing on the thing I loved most, to shift my mood and fill my heart.  Maybe on other days it will not be so easy; there are bound to be worse days even worse than that particular one but for now, I’ll take it, and in the words of Mercer Mayer (my son’s current favourite author), “I’ll run away tomorrow if I am still so mad.”

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