As I’m attempting (in all my hours of free time) to write a book about “enjoying the chaos”, I find myself geating frustrated that there are a decent amount of times where I JUST DON’T ENJOY THE CHAOS! Not even that I just don’t enjoy it…but that I feel like I might have a mental breakdown.
Overall, I feel like I am very capable of juggling a lot, keeping up with life, and laughing off all the craziness and mishaps that happen along the way. I feel like I can grasp the bigger picture and see the joy in life around me.
Then days like today happen.
My daughter had a competition at 11:00. Now at home competitions, you are required to sign 3 people up from your family to assist with different things during the weekend. I try as best I can to sign myself up 3 times to not burden random family members. For some reason I have not mastered the art of choosing the best option for myself. For Mae’s first meet, I had signed myself to be working the timer in the middle of my daughter’s own competition instead of being able to sit and watch her perform. The second meet I attempted to work the concession stand with an overly tired, grumpy from being at a gymnastics competiton all day, 3 year old on my hip…serving soft pretzels in between tantrums.
So this meet I signed up for the first aid. I’m a Physical Therapist, and it is something I could easily handle while watching the girls compete. I also signed my husband and I up for tear down at the end of the meet.
Well I thought I double checked my schedule and had it in my head that I was doing first aid at my daughter’s 11:00 competition. So as we were for once enjoying our morning of not rushing out of the house, I get a text around 8:00 asking if I would be there soon for my assignment. When I went back and checked, I realized I had signed up for the early shift before her competition! I was supposed to be there at 7:30am! I rushed my poor daughter with her bowl of cheerios into the car, grabbed her Leo and hair stuff, and threw on some clothes only to get in my car and realize my tank was on “E”. I muttered, “I quit, I seriously quit.” I had no idea exactly what I was going to quit..parenting, responsibilities, sports, even attempting to be somewhat organized and reliable..I decided in that 3 seconds I just was going to quit them all.
We made it to the gym 20 minutes later…driving on fumes…and rushed in late to work my session.
The rest of my children arrived with my mother in law…and they sat patiently through the 2 hour competition where Mae had her very best meet! I was so proud of her! We then sat through a very long awards program…and slowly my 3 year old started getting whiny and squirmy. This isn’t good. I now had to stay at the gym and tear down..without my husband because he got called into work…and then drive 40 minutes to unload and 40 minutes back home. As Charlie started having a meltdown, I attempted to grab all my stuff in 1 hand (4 coats, a pair of Mae’s boots, and a hanger), a screaming 3 year old in the other, and leave the awards ceremony to see if I could start helping the tear down early. I almost lost it as Charlie was screaming and I barely had the hands to hold everything as I carried him down. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I don’t have enough hands, I can’t help with 2 kids who have already sat here 3 hours without naps and are now having meltdowns. I can’t do everything anymore. I can’t handle this gymnastics commitment anymore. I can’t handle 4 kids anymore. How does anybody do all this and not have a mental breakdown??
I started tearing up and wondered if I should just apologize and leave, but I had already been late to my first session, I was already feeling bad that my husband who I signed up was not there to help, and I couldn’t back out on a commitment.
Within 15 minutes of thinking I was going to start crying in front of everyone, some of the older gymnasts had begun to entertain my kids, and before I knew it, my sweet boys were working hard carrying out all the “heavy” stuff to the truck and getting praised for being such big helpers.
The same mental cycle happened once we drove the 40 minutes to unload in Toledo. Charlie fell asleep for 15 minutes, then woke when we got there in his normal after nap horrible mood. Clinging to me and screaming, I wondered why I drove up here if I couldn’t even get away from my 3 year old long enough to carry mats and chairs into the gym. I felt my patience growing thin and again began telling myself I can’t do this anymore. I can’t handle all the responsibilities. By the time we left, Charlie and my other children were laughing, playing in the gym, and I smiled seeing how the older gymnasts were taking care of my kids…reminding me of the days when my teammates loved and cared for my little brother during practices and competitions…becoming like a second family.
On my way home, the sun was shining and I felt good that I didn’t lose it..that I didn’t “quit” and go home. I realized that yes, there are soooo many times where the chaos is too much and I just feel on the verge of not being able to handle it…but as quick as that happens, it is gone and I am able to smile at the insignificance of the situation and once again feel like it is all worth it.
Life is like a roller coaster. It will always go up and down. Part of me wanted to wallow in the down…and just stay down, sad, and defeated the entire day. Yet it feels so much more amazing when you force yourself to ride back up..when you bring yourself out of the defeatedness and push on to see the bigger picture…see it turn into the joy you were looking for.