Humans love stories. They tend to fit into a certain format: these three things happened, ergo I had this insight and reached this conclusion. But life is not lived in epiphanies. One of the reasons I love the mosaic metaphor is that life consists of many moments, like a mosaic consists of many tiles. Some moments are stressful and some are wonderful. There is no need to draw a conclusion. These facts can exist side by side.
Parenting often puts these tiles in starkest relief, and today was one of those stark days. I decided to make this chicken soup (from a Real Simple recipe — that’s why I keep subscribing) for family dinner, which we were all going to sit down to at 5:45. And we did, like a high-functioning family. And the soup was very good! But as soon as I put the soup in front of the kids, they all howled. And not only did they howl about the soup, they howled about everything else, including the chicken nuggets I baked to fill them up (assuming they would only try the soup), and even the corn bread. They all refused to eat their corn bread. It made no sense whatsoever, and the screaming after I’d gone to the trouble of cooking a real meal did not exactly put me in a good frame of mind.
We let the kids watch TV for a bit after, and my husband and I snuck off to have some adults-only conversation. So that was nice. Then I came down to force the kids to go play in the basement, and the howling ensued again. Indeed, my 5-year-old and 3-year-old started scratching and kicking each other on the stairs, almost toppling down it, which did not improve my mood. I’m all for various challenges to stop yelling at your kids, but when they are about to seriously injure each other, you need to get their attention, pronto.
After they did calm down a bit, though, they managed to play reasonably. My 7-year-old and I played Scrabble, which was actually kind of fun. He tried to claim “Nid” as a word. I got “vexed,” which I was quite proud of. All was good until I realized I could not get up off the floor due to a pregnancy-related leg spasm. I eventually hauled myself up and did not sit down again for another 20 minutes, not wanting to risk it. We used the time to watch YouTube videos of Usain Bolt getting the world record time in the 100 meter dash. My 7-year-old is convinced that he’s only a few seconds off Bolt’s time, and if he keeps practicing running around the basement, he’ll get there.
Now they’re all up reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with my husband. We have plans to hit the YMCA pool tomorrow morning because the little ones have the day off school. I finished most of the things I wanted to get done today, so I may just relax and read. I don’t have to work a split shift, even though my essay on that topic for Fast Company has now been shared almost 24,000 times. That’s good news, since it’s a topic I cover in Their Own Sweet Time. I’m glad to know there is interest. I’ll turn in my next round of edits on that manuscript tomorrow, and I’m really starting to like the book. I just read edits on a piece that may run in a new-to-me market soon. Life is stressful and life is wonderful. There is no contradiction here. It’s just the way the tiles fit together.
In other news: I hit NaNoWriMo 37,400 today. That’s 22 x 1700. I’m about 3 days ahead of schedule, which I hope to maintain going into Thanksgiving.
I’m also writing about departure memos — that genre of literature consisting of the letter you send to colleagues on your last day at work. Have you seen them done horribly? Have you seen them done well?
Photo: The fateful dinner.