All I Ever Needed to Know About Mommy Meltdown Cleanup I Learned In Home Ec

I've been playing single parent this week; Knute left at o'dark-thirty on Monday morning for a business trip to Kansas leaving me to hold down the fort all week with the weefolk.

All has been well enough, despite random moments of Missing Daddy tears from the kiddos. The first night Knute was gone, I double checked the locks, reminded Brownie that it's his canine duty to treat any would-be trespassers as giant chew toys, and tucked my handy-dandy megawatt Maglite flashlight under my pillow (for use in any Swing away, Merrill kind of moments that might involve bad guys, not aliens). 

I miss Knute, but I spent so many weeks and months of the early years in our marriage alone while Knute was out to sea or in Nuke school that this short separation isn't that big of a deal.  Of course, back in those heady-end-of-the-last-century years, I didn't have three kids to care for on my own while he was gone.

Thankfully, this week wasn't an overbooked nightmare of activities, meetings, and endless volunteering.  I did have to drag all three with me to a meeting, but that was Monday night and we were all still relatively well-rested, healthy, and amiable.

But that bubble of goodwill popped sometime on Wednesday.  The kids? Hacking a bit from the latest cough/cold of the season and getting worn out by school and homework.  Me? Tired.  Just plain tired from juggling them, the school week, the housework, the dog (damn you, Ohio mud), and nagging myself about how damn far behind I'd fallen on my weekly blogging schedule, not to mention my inboxes - spam carnage EVERYWHERE.

A mommy meltdown moment seemed inevitable.

It started small; I learned that the burner on the stove that I'd found knocked to the ON position after walking into the kitchen early that morning and catching a whiff of gas (followed by me racing to open the window with one hand while switching the stove off with the other) was Huck's doing.  That he was trying to help with breakfast, as I found out later, post-meltdown, through his snuffling tears, was beside the point.

All that my mind could comprehend at that moment, pre-meltdown, was the WHAT IF. 

What if something horrible had happened to him? To us?

And this moment, that split second when fear filled my soul, is when it happened.  Fear of the WHAT IF transformed to anger and I hollered at my sweet boy. 

I hollered and then, to emphasize my point (or because I have a dramatic Irish temper), I slammed a cabinet door shut.  Slammed it so hard, in fact, that two glasses on the top shelf flew out and smashed to pieces at my feet.

Cleaning up dozens upon dozens of tiny shards of glass has a way of sobering even the most fiery of  tempers.  I swept and swept, picking up the bigger pieces and tossing them in the garbage.  I swept again, my anger gone, replaced with determination to get every bit of glass up off the floor.  I called upon my Home Ec years - yes, the public school system I attended in Maryland required all students take Home Ec during middle school and I have to say, it's been useful in my life as mom - and grabbed loads of paper towels, dampening them with water and then wiping down the kitchen floor square by square. 

All the while, my mind churned with - what else? - post ideas.  The mommy meltdown angle.  The humorous, all-I-ever-needed-to-know-about-life-I-learned-in-Home-Ec angle.  The fear of tragedy angle. 

It wasn't until later that night, long after the kids were in bed safe and sound and I'd hugged Huck so hard that his freckles nearly popped off,  that the most important post angle struck me: the fear-and-anger-instead-of-thanks-and-praise angle.

How easy it is for me, I realized, to default to fear and anger when I walk through life trying to control everything.  How easy it is to forget the simple truth that while I plan, plan, plan like a madwoman, God giggles and laughs. 

Rather than stepping back from the moment of WHAT IF and letting thanks for our safety wash over me, I dove head first into the churning whirlpool of anger.  Rather than sighing with relief, I shouted at my boy. 

I've been in big-time planning and executing mode lately.  What I haven't been doing much of is remembering Who put me on this Earth to do all things in His time. Losing two of our favorite glasses seems a small price to pay for the humbling reminder to let go of the anger and the control freak tendencies and to give thanks to Him every once in a while instead.