Breathing Lessons on a No Good, Very Bad Day

My five year old awoke, erupting in loud, bawdy singing, like a one man fraternity rounding out a long evening of fun.

“No more monkeys…JUMPING…ON…THE…BED!!”

Each word was sharply syncopated and reverberated in my already pounding head. I felt as if I had been to the same frat party without any of the amusement.

His feet thundered down the steps.

“Hi ya mama!” he chirped with a grin.

“Hi,” I croaked back. I sat at my desk, my throat was on fire.

I am never sick. The last time I visited the doctor was for a running injury and the nurse had to send the front desk to the basement in search of my paper file.

But just like that, never’s tenure was over with one wallop of a cold.

“You alright mama?”

My heart melted at the concern until I noticed his worried eyes seemed more focused on the empty breakfast table and his hungry belly.

I forced myself into a vertical position, thankful I had the foresight early in motherhood not to get my children in the habit of expecting a hot breakfast. I had known this day would come, and 13 years of boxed cereal later, it cerealpaid off. The five year old happily accepted a bowl and began filling it with eight essential vitamins and minerals topped with a little milk. Slowly the rest of the herd gathered to feed. I shuffled behind them out the door, willing my head not to fall off and roll down the street.

The typical morning squabbles seemed exaggerated and I could feel myself boil over. I threatened to cancel summer. It was the best I could come up with between sneezes.

I dropped all but one off at school. The five year old remained in the rear of the van. He smiled in the mirror expectantly, ready to initiate his first day of summer vacation with a bang. I was ready to start it with a snuggle under a warm blanket and some vapor rub.

Sadly, both our agendas were worthless because I had numerous errands, work deadlines and end of the year loose ends to tie.

I stopped at a Starbucks in an attempt to find some hot tea to soothe my throbbing throat and a cake pop peace offering for the child who was stuck with my lousy excuse for company.

My son dug into his treat and I sucked hot steam through my nostrils hoping the vapors would magically transport me to Australia and away from this no good, very bad day.

We threw out the trash and made our way to the bathroom.

Tucked in the corner, sat a table that doubled as a checker board, complete with playing pieces and a dollar store trophy for the winner. I saw the five year old’s eyes light up.

I frantically tried to signal my brain for a blitz play to sack the question before it could be launched into the air.

“We’ll have to make sure and sit here next time,” my words rushed out. The minutes were ticking down before kindergarten pick-up and I could barely keep my eyes open.

He looked wistfully at the cozy spot.

man but breath“Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4

The verse instantly popped into my cotton-filled head.

I am a word nerd so the poetry of this phrase delights me. The truth of it kicks my butt into action.

Dearly beloved, this thing called life, it’s short. A breath. And there is no way of knowing if yours will be a long intake of air or a quick gulp.

So while you are still on the inhale, be sure to find the joy in every day, even the no good, very bad ones. The hidden pockets of bliss found in a coffee stained checker board with your child who will too soon be grown.

I sat down and began to set-up the pieces. He scrambled into the opposing chair, unable to believe his good fortune.

Turn after turn, breath after breath, we nestled into the moment.

MasonHe eventually held the plastic trophy high and we shook hands through our giggles.

We drove to pick-up the six year old, all the to do’s still undone. Sometimes the things not on the list are the most important.

The five year old couldn’t wait to tell his sister about his adventure. He got mid-sentence and then wrinkled his nose in disgust.

“Ewww…..what is that smell!! Ewww – someone tooted.”  He held his nose and faked being sick.

The morning of profound awareness was abruptly brought back to my circus-like reality.

The six year laughed. “It was me,” she confessed, fanning the air in his direction.

“Moooom, put down the window,” my son moaned in distress.

This day wasn’t so bad after all.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said with a mischievous grin. “With this cold, I can’t smell a thing!”

And the van continued to roll amid gagging and laughter; the sweet spot of childhood where the best memories are made.

I smiled quietly, drinking it in, and then said out loud “…just try not to breathe.”

Mamas, we are in the crazy, end of the year crush. Good news, I did not really cancel summer. It is coming, I promise. But in your rush to get there, don’t let the to do list prevent you from enjoying those hidden pockets of bliss.

How are you holding up? Comment below. I’d love to hear! And share this message with other mamas. Don’t miss the joy in every day, even the no good, very bad ones.

About Jennifer Louise Diaz

Jennifer Louise Diaz is a writer, storyteller and motivational speaker. She has a degree in social work, and her years working in this profession have ignited her passion for helping women find their buried laughter, faith and joy. Jennifer’s love of comedy, the written word and storytelling create an engaging platform to share her message, both online and in person. She writes a weekly blog called “Devo on the Go” that highlights the hilarious insanity of being a mama to four kiddos. It has been featured by the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, and Faithful Devotions.

She also produces an online Bible study called “B-Study on the Go” that allows busy moms to dig into the Word from the soccer field, pick-up line or behind a locked bathroom door.

When she is not writing, she serves as a seasoned “road warrior” – dropping off and picking up numerous children from various activities. She will have at least one teenager in the house for the next 13 years. Prayers are appreciated!

14 comments on “Breathing Lessons on a No Good, Very Bad Day

  1. You have such a wonderful perspective on life Jenn! Those kiddos are lucky to have you for their mama as you go through life making memories. Sometimes the most inconsequential things (to us) stick with them forever! Happy Summer!!

  2. Wonderful, witty, beautiful- everything I have come to expect from Jennifer Louise Diaz prose. Well done.

  3. You made me smile today. And I’m so looking forward to seeing more of “the five year old”. I wish childhood lasted longer. Feel better friend.

  4. Oh it’s been a week on this end! A challenging toddler…(2’s haven’t been nothin…I suppose I am getting the challenging times ahead in the 3s! Meanwhile, getting closer and closer to figuring out the newborn….although, trying to figure out a newborn is like trying to swim on land! Ha! Lots of praying going on in this household, trying to enjoy the moments, days, and weeks. Taking it ALL in! 🙂 The good, the bad and the ugly!

  5. as I hear all the things life gives us even when we think our children aren’t looking or even listening. and I also share the same cold this week. my kids come to me with such sweet stories of their life this week. and do what they can to help me feel better. it reminds me of things when they were 5, and what ever age. that I have my 3 best girls a mom could ever wish for.

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