Some days are made out of cranky. On such days all six personalities spit and spark as if we’re all charged with static electricity, accidentally zapping each other by simple proximity. These are the days when our house feels too small. I sit in the front room, which is not far enough away from the kitchen where Link is wrestling with homework. Crowding my feet are the boxes of books, t shirts, and assorted other merchandise which we hastily emptied out of Howard’s car on Monday morning so that he could drive Kiki to school. I need to sort through the boxes and put the contents away. It is on my list of things to do. It has been since Saturday night when we arrived home from LTUE both tired and sore. There are more boxes in the back of my van. I haven’t gotten to them yet because I’ve been too busy focused on things upcoming to clean up after things past.
Gleek comes to return my kindle. The thing has been sitting around for months and the kids paid it no attention at all. Today I’ve been reading Midnight in Austenland on it. So naturally the kids have rediscovered a fascination with reading on an electronic device. Even my reading space is invaded today. I could go upstairs and hide in my room, but one of the duties of mother is to be available during homework time. I must quell the noisy enthusiasm of those who have no work to do, so that those who have work can get it done. To do this I must sit where both the enthusiasm and work can be observed. Then I’ll know whether the playing children have actually been too noisy or if the working child is just cranky about the existence of play.
Most days this is just normal, not particularly difficult. I move through my family like a fish through water, thinking ahead, solving problems before it occurs to anyone else that there might be an issue. I pick up the shoes from under the kitchen table and put them where they’ll be sought tomorrow morning. I clear dishes from the table so that they won’t spill on the homework next to them. I make appointments, decide which events we’ll attend and what we’ll skip. I am the organizer of all things. Mostly I like it. I am good at it.
Then comes a cranky day. A day when my efforts are rewarded with tantrums and tears, because whatever I did, they wanted different. There is no winning on cranky days. Not for me, not for them. We all know it will pass. Cranky days do. The structure of our family is plenty strong enough to handle days when we’re all grouchy. Yet I still end up tired, staring at boxes I haven’t had time to put away, listening to children who are playing happily at the moment, but who might break into a squabble at any time.
I need to remember that the existence of a cranky, moody day does not represent any sort of a failure. It just is. I just have to do the best I can and trust that I will soon find myself in a better day. And indeed I do, before this day is even gone. Gleek hugs me tight and tells me she loves me. Patch lingers close and snuggly. Link settles in to do his work. Quiet music plays and I think that perhaps our house is large enough after all. Or it will be once I get these boxes put away.