My daughter and I have been reading Anne of Avonlea, and tonight’s chapter title was apropos—“Jonah Day.” For those of us that may not know the reference, a Jonah Day indicates that one has passed beyond the normal and is testing the coping abilities in a rather spectacular way. I just don’t want to end up in the belly of a whale for some self-reflection time.
I’ve been known to claim a “Jonah Day” before, but today, I’ve called shenanigans on it all and admitted to myself that I’ve been living them on a lather-rinse-repeat cycle and it’s time to say it—I need help.
It’s been a hellish 15 months, treading water, as an educator, a parent, a spouse…a human, really, and these two months were supposed to be all about hitting the proverbial reset button.
I naively went into this summer with rosey hued glasses, all Pinterest-Mom craft plans and AirBnB mini vacays booked, full steam ahead. I thought I’d make up for all of the lost personal time and soak up these days with my oldest, reading, writing, exploring, expanding her horizons, so that she’d have a chockablock-to-the-brim mental photo album of all the great “Mama and Me” moments. I planned to work on the toddler’s world of table foods and potty training. I’d savor the night with my spouse, who has been busting his butt in a new job and needed some R and R. I would lose the weight that seems to be adding more numbers after the 2 I see starting the weight on the scale. Heck, throw another log onto the fire snd add in me dusting off of my ambition to play write again and you’d see just how close I was trying to fly to the sun, overzealous wings smeared weakly with glue and bird feathers, Icarus-style.
If the laundry list of impossibles doesn’t clue one in closely enough, I’ll just say it loudly—among some of my biggest character flaws is my keen ability to bite off more than I can chew, and then choke on said list until I come to my senses. You’d think, by now, that 2020 would have taught me that I need to slow down and not borrow so much trouble, as my mother used to [and still does] say.
Here’s what I have learned. Call it kismet, karma, a “God” moment, if you will. As soon as I start spinning in my little hamster wheel too quickly (for reference, see our escapade in Waco last week in my need for change…), something curveballs into my day to slow me down. Obstacles, some call them; setbacks, others dub these potholes. Enter the Jonah Days.
The latest series begins with sudden illness for our 22 month old, in yet another cocktail of symptoms stemming from an adenovirus (respiratory/sinus infection with added eye infection as a bonus, poor lad). This delightful rodeo has been coupled with the stir crazy, summer fun & friend visit deprived nearly-8yr old who joins in on this house arrest.
SAHMs, I salute you. You are troopers.
I’d offer you wine, but all I’ve got is iced tea and apple juice.
Alas, I digress.
I will painfully admit that I tend to feel like an utter parental failure when one, or sometimes both of our kids is sick. While attending to one, the other requests a snack or negotiates another mind numbing episode of a Netflix cartoon series that looks like the Power Rangers and Sailor Moon had a kid.
I want to soothe, but also focus on the need for stimulus in the other. I feel like my mind and body are split in two, riding the waves of each one’s impulses and inquiries.
In the end of these 16hr days, when I feel like a failure because we all devolved into tears at some point, the only accomplishments I seem to achieve are wiping of boogers and filling cups with juice. My patience is wafer-thin by the time my hardworking spouse drags in, and I melt into a puddle of hopelessness. Thank God for him. He never sees these trials as earth shattering—he simply dusts us all off and says we have to do our best.
He scoops up the big girl to take her on an evening run that will calm her nerves and release his stress. I saddle up my little boy to grab a drive thru dinner I’ll regret later, and have a good cry. Unexpectedly, the drive thru lady sees my dam about to break and offers to compliment my meal with a cookie. Girl, that cookie cheered me and my boy up, so thank you. God moment brought to yours truly, extending grace, and reminding me that this, too, shall pass.
“Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this, my Mama said…”-The Shirelles-
My daughter came in from the run with her dad to present me with a brief, scribbly apology letter. My son let me tickle him till he giggled (maybe not the best for a cough, but it helps), then hugged me with his tiny, chubby toddler arms. A silent thank you, I think, for finding a moment of joy in an otherwise craptastic day.
I’m here to tell you that we all survived our Jonah Day.
Do we have housework to finish and kids to bathe? Yes.
Am I going anywhere tomorrow, or the next day? Probably not.
Is everyone under our roof happy all the time? Nope.
I realized that my Jonah Day, and that of my children, was largely self-inflicted when the personalities of all three were thrown into a blender alongside sickness/fatigue, boredom, and short fuses. The good news is that these don’t last forever, and they teach us to cherish the silver linings amongst the clouds.
There’s still some summer left, and once we get over this hurdle, maybe some respite and adventure can occur. For now, head up, Buttercup.
Tomorrow, we can begin anew.