This all came to a head yesterday. I was exhausted, Ryan was at work, and it was a Saturday, so I wanted to try to do something fun. We started by planting our garden, which actually was pretty fun. Then we packed a picnic lunch and headed to the Natural History Museum. The museum was really crowded--which is atypical for this place--and there appeared to be a field trip group, which was weird since it was Saturday; but we were able to largely avoid the big group and overall enjoy ourselves. After the museum, we went to a nearby park and ate our picnic. And then (this day just keeps going, so buckle in) we decided to finally check out the Old Mormon Fort. The Fort is literally next door to the museum, and we'd been wanting to go for a really long time, and it only cost $1 total to get in, so going there just seemed right!
After the fort, I had to make a choice between going home to give Lila a nap or going to Old Navy to buy her the flip flops she's been pining for. In a very out of character move, I chose Old Navy. On the way, we stopped at the Vegas sign to take a picture of the Flat Stanley that's visiting us (having a Vegas photo with him only seemed appropriate). And then Ryan texted to say he was done for the day and that he'd meet us at Old Navy.
So here's the thing. This should have been a GREAT day. But it wasn't. I was exhausted. I felt completely drained, but I knew that being at home with the kids fighting all day would be way worse than getting out of the house. But they still fought, of course. They just couldn't leave each other alone. They couldn't be nice. And they didn't realize that I was so on edge and just so done with all their noise and screaming and ridiculous fights!
After Old Navy, we made a quick stop at the dollar store for snacks, and were going to head to the park. Then I ran over my own toes with the shopping cart that was filled with our purchases and all 35 pounds of Lila, and I just lost it. I was crying a very ugly cry on the sidewalk in front of the store. And Ryan, amazing person that he is, sent me home with strict instructions not to clean anything while he took all the kids to the park--AFTER HE'D WORKED AN 85-HOUR WEEK. I felt like a huge jerk but my protests were really only half-hearted. Because I knew that if I went with them, I would make the day worse. Because my patience, at that point, was non-existent. I felt awful and inadequate as a mother but also beyond grateful to have a break.
I cried most of the way home, then climbed into bed and read Catching Fire. And that's exactly where I was when they got home 1.5 hours later. The kids all ran up to see me and tell me about all they'd done (which included an explanation of why Reed and Lila were both wearing ONLY underwear. Reed had fallen in a muddy puddle and took his clothes off in the car. Lila saw Reed taking his clothes off so of course wanted her clothes off, too). And I felt SO MUCH BETTER. I needed a break where no one was around. Where no one needed me. Where I didn't make myself be productive. Where I did nothing other than relax.
Now I'm staring down the jaws of another week. I know I need to make it better than last week, and I have a few strategies to do so. I am grateful that Ryan helped save our Saturday and hope that I can do better this week at holding things together--and giving myself a break when I can't.