It’s one of those days where everything seems to be going downhill, and I haven’t even gotten out of bed. Somehow it didn't matter that, outwardly, everything resembled perfection. My insides were mangled into a destructive force ready to ruin the best of days.
I couldn’t shake it. My day wasn’t going as I wanted, and I felt powerless to stop the downward spiral. My attitude needed adjusting.
Isn't it funny to think how parents, like me, can be so dismissive of a child with a bad attitude, and yet so accepting of their own? I can hear myself dolling out the admonition now, "You just need to ______." Fill in the blank: “Get over it; Smile until it's a real smile; Name three things you're thankful for...”
But today I didn't take my own advice.
Why did I have a cloud over my head? Fighting a child’s bad attitude is difficult at best, but it’s infinitely worse if it’s your own.
Quickly, I sent out a group text to a few beloved friends to plead for prayers and help, or just some sympathy. It was my "Hail Mary" before I descended into despair. I received back a few texts saying, “Yes, praying,” and reading them did lift my spirit a bit.
I fabricated an errand to have an excuse to get out of the house. Finally, I began to ask God if He had anything to say to me. The first thought that came to my mind was, “Have you enjoyed the kids today?” Then, silence.
I began to feel aware of how self-absorbed I'd been, nursing my own sadness.
The next question on my mind was, “Why hadn't I enjoyed the children?"
That’s when I pulled onto our street, and noticed the tree in the park across the street from our house. I envisioned a lovely moment of nighttime tag with my kids under its strong branches. The weather had just turned chilly and was feeling deliciously crisp. The sun had already set, the countdown to bedtime begun, but was it too late to salvage the day?
Maybe it'd just be easier to put them all into bed and hit the reset button?
Still, a nagging feeling gripped my heart, so I lingered in the car for a moment. And that’s when my four-year-old daughter said, “Mommy, can we please go play under that tree together tonight?” pointing to the same tree where my fantasy game of tag took place.
And I knew.
I knew it was right. It was real. It was the confirmation I needed.
No, it wasn’t too late for me to reclaim this day.
With renewed vigor, I announced to my crew that we were going to play our hearts out under that tree, and a joyous chorus cried, "Yay!"
Jackets were donned, and my bad attitude was hung on the porch. All six of us raced off for a game of tag under that magical tree in the park. We laughed, I stealth-cried, and the more I played, the fewer tears fell.
A joyful spirit sprang up and replaced my bad attitude, and in a single moment, I was free. The cloud over my heart dissipated.
Childhood enthusiasm took over, and we played until our breath became heavy, until our smiles hurt and our souls connected. I had won the battle.