Finding my way on the deck

Right this moment, I am fine. I keep telling myself that.

Today was a rough day. I have been slaving in my too small kitchen for a month, making every morsel for my family from scratch. It’s been hot. We have no A/C.

Riley has a hard time getting dressed. She gets distracted by the cat, and by toys in her room. She freezes deciding which outfit to wear. There’s face washing and hair brushing and finding the right barrette. She doesn’t want help. She doesn’t want to be treated “like a baby.” But she takes anywhere from 45 minute to two hours to get dressed. And I’ve got places to go. Errands to run. Things to take care of.

I made her a hot lunch today, only to watch it congeal as she took forever, once again, not dressed by noon. I could feel myself getting so pissed as I marched upstairs toward her room. And on the heels of my anger came a voice that said, “Pre-pave. Pre-pave. Pre-pave.” It is an Abraham-Hicks exercise, where you set up your intention before entering any given situation.

I can’t say that I took the time to truly pre-pave. I kept walking toward her room, but the follow-up thought, “think about what you want” came to me as I touched the knob to open her door. It helped.

Gently noting in my mind that I had some control over how this all played out allowed me to be non-reactive even when Riley completely lost her cool with me.

So. A victory.

It’s rare anymore, but it really does shake me up when she has a meltdown. It makes me fear she hasn’t come very far, and maybe it’s just that we ask so little of her. I know it isn’t true, but the fear comes up.

I am tired. I feel like I’ve had my feet tied together trying to run a marathon. I constantly compare myself and come up short against others who do not have the challenges I have. Whose kids do not take two hours and a meltdown to get dressed. Why could I not promote my book more? Why have I not gotten very far on a second one? Why have I barely written at all lately? How did I let my nursing license lapse? Why have I not studied more and re-taken my nursing boards? Why have I not had a true paycheck in ten years? Why do I have 15 pounds to lose? Why is my house always a wreck? Why am I not content?

Should I just be able to find contentment in what I have and what I am doing? Swallow hard and count my blessings? If so, how?  ‘Cause I think I’ve done a lot of “inner work” and I still feel sad and miserable.

Not all the time, no. Tomorrow I will feel much better I am sure. A new day will dawn. I will laugh. I will be grateful for this life.

It’s just, sometimes….it sucks.

I’m out on our back deck now. The trees are lit up from the west, some leaves are bright green, some are shadows. The birds are singing. Our neighbor’s koi pond makes it’s music. It has finally cooled off.

My sweet husband is washing out the garbage can in the back yard. Cleaning up dog poop. Taking care of crap I never have to. Soon he’ll go in and supervise bedtime routine for the kids. He knows when I need to back off and he steps right in. Words aren’t even necessary, but they are welcome. Tears are welcome too. He sent me out to the deck with my computer and a choice of water or wine. I picked water.

The kids are signed up for day camp this summer. And Riley. After two and a half years of homeschool, my Riley will be going to school in the fall. A school for kids with learning differences. She’s so excited.

And praise God from whom all blessings flow, it is a school that requires her to wear a uniform.

Thinking about the uniform, with her typical void of false modestly she beamed and said confidently, “I’m going to look super cute!”

She will. I’m sure of it.


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16 Responses to Finding my way on the deck

  1. Nina says:

    You are so not alone with these feelings. Though your ability to capture them is uniquely yours. I have felt all of these things, but I don’t think I could express it so well. We all compare ourselves–as mothers, writers, and everything else. We should all stop NOW.

  2. Alexis Yael says:

    Yup. I know those moments too. It’s so hard, but writing it out helps, and hearing from other moms who walk along this same, crooked path. (Two steps one way, three the other. My kid doesn’t take so long to get dressed, but OY, he has his own things. Don’t we all? It’s just there’s are… a wee bit more.)

    And look: you did write. You are writing. (I know it’s not the same, but: Words are words, written.)

  3. I am grateful for your honesty here. And I think it’s entirely good and human to admit when things suck. At risk of sounding all new agey — and I do hate the trite stuff — being mindful of everything, both good and bad — is where it’s at. And you’re at.

    Here’s to better days.

  4. kario says:

    It is so hard not to question ourselves, especially when things aren’t as we wish they would be. I often look around my house and catalog the things I wish were different, better. This, despite knowing that all it does is make me feel awful.

    Sometimes it helps to look into the future and know that some of the things you’ve done are paving the way for better days ahead, and then settle back in to your now life with the understanding that this is good, too.

    I feel your exhaustion and hope that the food preparation gets easier as time goes on and you are able to spend more time writing.

  5. You sound like a really honest woman doing an amazing job. Do keep doing what you’re doing – you are fabulous.

  6. Sheri says:

    I think we do all compare ourselves and I know I am especially hard on myself because I still manage to do a less than stellar job and I don’t even have the challenges that you do, or that others around me do. We really have no choice, though, other than to keep plugging along, trying to hold on to the sweet moments of clarity and peace as long as possible. You ARE doing an incredible job.

  7. Jan says:

    My 15-year-old can take 15 minutes to pick socks. The whole outfit? Not usually two hours, but it’s not unheard of. She now goes to a school with a uniform, and although initially she rebelled, she found she really likes it. Takes so much stress out of the day when she doesn’t have to decide what to wear. (Of course, the only thing the girls can vary is socks, so she still does have that issue….)

    Every time you are able to stop yourself and think, even just a little, before going in there, is a victory. Adding that little bit of space around the interaction, easing it away from confrontation. You’re doing a great job.

  8. Shelley says:

    I’ve been reading/lurking here for awhile. I’ve a 4 children, the youngest, my only daughter, is on the spectrum, has non verbal learning disability, and PPD. Her issues make me cry several times a week. I want to yell at her sometimes, awful and unhelpful things like: WHY CAN’T YOU ACT NORMAL? I spend a lot of time thinking about how I am going to handle something and thinking about my choice of words. I thought it was proof that I am a bad mother (that I would actually have to plan) but have decided it makes me great! At least for today. lol

    I struggle a lot with feeling like she has/is ruining my life. Do you ever feel this way? I hate it!

  9. Michelle O'Neil says:


    Dr. Ross Green’s book The Explosive Child is a godsend if you are feeling at the end of your rope. The premise is kids do well when they can, and if they can’t we can find ways to help them. No child wants to be difficult. There is always a reason behind the behavior.

    Also, the teachings of Byron Katie are helpful. There is so much we don’t know about why our kids act out. Just putting a different spin on it by asking questions can lift us a bit above the battlefield, if only temporarily and give us a moment to breathe.

    I understand the helplessness and frustration, and have felt the exasperation myself often enough but I do love this girl so much, as I’m sure you do yours.

  10. Holly says:

    You hit me right where I am today.

  11. Kathee says:

    Great to read about the school and her excitement! That is great news! Uniforms are the best! So many days I am in a place just like you describe. I think I need to check out Abraham-Hicks. If I was a long-time reader of your blog years ago but took a break and recently came back I wouldn’t believe you were talking about the same little girl. Thank you for this post. I feel a little less lonely in my sadness and frustrations and exhaustion. Can she take her dog to school?

  12. Camille says:

    Hey MO’N

    Wanted to send some love your way tonight. On the positive side a uniform should cut a good hour out of Riley getting dressed no decisions.

    It is so awesome that she will be going to school and is excited about it. This is why you have not brought home a “real” paycheck. You have done so much for your family, and you can’t measure it in dollars. It would just be too much. What you are doing RIGHT now for your family, EVERY day is the most important thing.

    Riley going to school in the fall and looking foward to it, that doesn’t happen by accident. That is you and Todd working every day to teach her, to support her, to empower her.

    When your homeschooling is not taking up so much of your time, your writing discipline will return in full force. There are lots of great books and articles in you. They will come flowing out.

    Tonight Sam had a big meltdown on the sidewalk because he didn’t want to go to swimming. Right in front of his best friends dad. Through a shoe at me, and before I could stop myself said, How come you didn’t throw a baseball like that? Anyway, I kept walking with his shoes, got his swim stuff and headed to the car. He was still griping and whining but moving toward the car and the poor boy stepped on a bee. Hops in the car, “Guess I should have listened to you about the shoes.” Went to practice and did a great job.

    In the if it makes you feel better category, I am still carrying 20 pounds of baby weight 9years later. And my house is always a wreck. BUT my family is busy and (mostly) happy. Your is too

  13. Tanya Savko says:

    Yes, praise God for the uniform! And about the writing and book promoting, I’m totally there with you. Love.

  14. Leah says:

    Hang in there, Michelle! I can totally relate to how you feel. I am often at my wit’s end with Sophie, who also takes her sweet time to get dressed. It drives me CRAZY that she tells me every day half her clothes itch, she can’t wear a certain sock, etc. It takes all my patience not to go crazy every morning. You’re a great mom and not alone.

  15. Sophia Grace says:

    What I read right here was about a woman with extreme patience. I try to be more patient, but… it’s hard work!

  16. Carrie Link says:

    I wish I could come have water/wine/beer O’Clock with you and toast the awesomeness of uniforms!

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