My family’s morning usually begins at 6 a.m., when my daughter’s feet pitter pat down the hallway, she creaks open my bedroom door and announces,
“Mommeee. I have to go pee peeeeeee.”
Recently my daughter, Laila, 4, woke up at 3 a.m. screaming instead.
“I’m scared, Mommy. I’m scared!”
I remember crawling into bed with her.
“It’s OK…Monsters aren’t *yawn* real….”
The next thing I remember is sunlight.
Why are we waking to sunlight?
Something wasn’t right.
We were late.
I sprang up and grasped for school uniform pieces.
Oh, God. There is one white Oxford shirt left. She hates this &$@”!?: shirt..
Next, Laila runs to the bathroom.
Moments later, she screams.
“Poo poo, mommy! Poo poo fell off my butt! Eeeehhhhhh get it off, get it oooooff!”
She somehow managed to deposit a portion of her morning poo on floor. Like, it never…detatched, until it fell to the tile. You. Are. Welcome.
“OK, honey, it’s OK. I’ll get it. Mark?! MARK?!”
“I didn’t hear my alarm clock!” my husband answers.
Yeah, I admit it. I blamed all of this on him.
“You know, actual adults set actual alarm clocks and wake up in the morning. You should try it!”
“Well, you could have set one, too.”
“Oh, good point. Yeah, sorry.”
That was close. I was so, so close to settin’ sail on the S.S. crazy biznitch. Ahoy! His logic took the wind out of my sails.
I had so wanted to go sailing.
In the mean time, Eli has an announcement.
“Pooo,” he says. “Poo poo. Ehhhhhhhhhh. Pooooh. Mama. Dada.”
There’s something different about his poo announcement this morning. What is it, what is it?
I’m bleaching the bathroom floor, thinking.
“Just a sec, buddy,” I call out.
It’s the eeeehhhhhhh. Usually there’s no drawn-out whine. He just says a kinda cheery “Poo poo!” like it’s the best thing on earth and he can’t believe he created this magical mystical thing in his didee that he now sits upon it like a throne…hmmm
Here’s what’s different: Eli had a poo explosion onto his pillow.
I enter his room. He is whining and pointing at “it,” the tan poo smear across his round blue dino pillow.
“Ehhh! Pooo pooo,” he frets, pointing.
I can’t really blame the lil guy. His poos overnight are formidable. Because of cystic fibrosis, he poos out fat. He eats almost 2,000 calories a day at nearly 2. So he had a little explosion and it somehow landed on his pillow.
I change his diaper.
It’s a doozie.
He bounds up the stairs.
“Yeah, what’s up…uuuuh.”
“It’s all you homie.”
I run out of there.
Laila’s school uniform.
“Alright sweetie, look! Mommy found your favorite skirt! Look, look! Isn’t this skirt pretty?”
She doesn’t buy it. The white Oxford shirt. She sees it. She hates it. It’s the only clean shirt. She might hate this shirt more than she hates jeans. She once locked us all out of a chicken coop for putting jeans on her.
I brace myself.
Oh. dear. God..
“NO. NO. NO. AHHHHHH! No. I hate that shirt! AHHHHHHH”
She enters kid electro-shock freak-out mode. There is no turning back.
I put her in the corner, calmly.
“I need you to stay here until you can calm yourself down. This is not acceptable behavior.”
“I like it here!” she informs me.
I give reason a try (ha. hahahaha)
“Laila, you can’t be half naked at school, darling.”
She runs off and hides in the closet.
“OK, you’re putting on this shirt, NOW,” I say. “Look at Mommy. You need to stop this now. NOW.”
Electro-shock freak-out returns She’s all wild limbs and screeches.
I beg. (Ha. Hahahahaha)
“OK, sweetie. Listen, it’s OK. It’s a pretty shirt, OK? Can you work with mommy?”
Hysteria. Tears. Screams.
Mark walks into her bedroom as I unsuccessfully attempt to work a shirt over flailing spaghetti arms.
“My God Ju, what are you doing to her?”
“I’m getting her dressed.”
She runs to him.
“Oh, Daddy, daddy, I hate that shirt. Mommy’s trying to make me wear that shirt!”
“All you,” I say. “Yeah, Good luck.”
I run outta there.
And that’s where I gotta stop the story. Because something happened.
I was teetering on the edge, about to let the chaos get the best of me.
Then, I laughed.
This is all just — ridiculous.
Maybe even a little — hilarious.
I just kind of — surrendered.
Hey, we’re late, I’d just dipped my hands in two piles of kiddie shit and my daughter is in electro-shock freak-out mode over a white button down shirt. So be it.
This is the start of your day.
You cannot turn back the clock.
You — you, are moving on.
Mark got the shirt on Laila and went to work. I got the kids and myself ready and started work from home.
I let my daughter pick out one of my necklaces and promised to do the laundry.
The necklace selection took another 15 minutes as she held up, described and examined each of five choices- noting pros and cons –(“Pretty, but too stringy.”) before sorting the necklaces into “yes,” “maybe,” and “no” piles.
No longer in a manic hurry, I took my seat in the audience of the Laila show and leaned back.
She at first selected large vintage pearls.
As I put them around her neck, the clasp broke.
Of course it did.
“OK, pick again,” I say.
“Mommy, I need more options!”
She picked out a silver number with a flower and an aqua bead.
“I’m getting used to it,” she says, examining her necklace and shirt pairing in the mirror.
“I’m so glad,” I say.
Laila put a headband on top of her hat and I took her to school, two hours late.
That didn’t matter.
I just sauntered in there and announced, “Got a late one.”
I signed her in and noted, “Check it out — headband on top of hat. Nice, right?”
She was happy, I was happy, Eli was happy, and no one was crying, yelling and/ or covered in poo.
It’s what I call “success.”
It is written.
I’m doing a 65-day wellness push in which you choose one healthy thing per day, Nov. 10 through Jan. 13. The healthy thing can be anything – physical, mental, social, emotional, spiritual, whatever. Most of my goals are related to fitness and eating. I’m going to add a few: “Noise blockage.”
I consider noise blockage a choice to ignore anything that qualifies as bullshit you cannot control or change after the fact.
To me, moment appreciation means an acknowledgement of anything positive, even if it’s something small, or, routine.
In the morning scenario I just described, it would have been easy for me to have screamed at my husband, gotten angry at my daughter and then driven my children around frazzled and tense, setting a bad tone for the day for everybody.
I’m like — “Wait, did I just employ mind control on my own brain?”
Dunno. Maybe I’ve been in training for the last two years, without really knowing it. Eli is almost 2. His diagnosis at two weeks old with a fatal lung illness shook us all up, and the stuff that fell away was the stuff that didn’t matter, the stuff that was just bogging us down. The noise.
The noise can come at you any second of any given day and it can be deafening.
After two years of training I wake up to sunlight. It is the day of the big game. It is me v. The Noise. After a shitty start, I pound that beast into submission.
I realized today that of all the smoothies I drank, and the gym visits, and My Fitness Pal tracking, the best thing I did this week was to block the noise and take a moment and appreciate my daughter. (OK, I appreciated her morning minus the shirt flip-out). I enjoyed hearing her exert her growing vocab on my necklace collection. She made me smile when she put that headband on top of her hat. She’s my lailai. She’s my heart.
Listen, I never actually claimed to be Oprah’s lost daughter (Hi, mom!), but my takeaway is this: If the noise gets the best of you, all those tiny moments, each a shot at happiness, are just going to pass on by.
Don’t let the noise win.
Can you relate? Why? Why not? Well, tell me about it! Leave a comment below or send a note. XOXOXOXO