Today was just one of those days. I don’t know if it’s the fact that we’re going out of town tomorrow (which always brings on some stress) or the fact that this is just the second day that we’ve been back in our daily routine since mid-December (and there’s bound to be some adjustment to that), but for the first few hours this morning, it felt like everything was going wrong. Actually, to be more specific, it felt like every decision I made was wrong, was always going to be wrong and that I was ruining the children’s lives. One of THOSE days.
Liam’s going through a needy phase right now, so he wanted to hold my hand as I got Benjamin ready for school. The entire time. Which is very sweet (there’s no way to say no to that) but makes it a little challenging to get out the door. Then, of course, when it came time for B & I to leave for school, Liam was sad that we were leaving at all. He wanted B to stay home, he wanted me to stay home. He was not a happy guy.
Benjamin and I had a very pleasant ride to school. But then, we got to school and everything fell apart. He made a drawing yesterday, which he wanted to show me. He hadn’t put it away in his drawer (where these things are supposed to go if the kids want them to be saved), so he couldn’t find it. So he just fell apart. Crying, screaming, clinging to my legs, hiding behind me. The teachers told him they’d help him make a new one, told him they’d help him look for the old one, offered hugs. Nothing worked. He was inconsolable. The teachers worked on getting him interested in making another drawing while I slipped out and headed home.
And then, as soon as I walked out the door, I second-guessed every decision I had made this morning. Maybe I should have brought Liam with me to school? Maybe I should have stayed at school until B settled down? What was I thinking? Why did I keep abandoning my tormented children? Why was I ruining their lives by having dragged them to this far-away country where life is so flipping hard?!?
And then, I took a breath, got myself together, and realized that nothing awful actually happened today. Liam misses me when I take B to school. Well, I understand that — I miss him, too. But he doesn’t have to go through the sub-freezing weather, with a cold, to drop B off at school. That’s a good thing. And even if it makes him sad, I think it’s a good decision.
B lost his drawing. Sometimes that happens when things don’t get put away. I sympathize with his disappointment and frustration, but these things happen. Sometimes you search and find the old one, sometimes you give up and make a new one. Either way, these are the things that help to teach us to take care of things we don’t want to lose. It’s a life lesson. Frustrating and sad, but not tragic.
And none of these things have anything to do with living in Austria. We would be going through the same challenges wherever we were living. If I was lucky enough to have a babysitter for Liam, I’d probably take B to school and let Liam stay home and play. And he’d miss me and be sad, but I’d still probably think it was the right idea. And B would have drawings that he didn’t put away in the right place and which got lost. It’s not that he doesn’t understand where it goes, he just didn’t put it there. He’s 4. That’s how it goes.
We’ve been here almost 2 years now, and we still have days like this. Of course we do. These days don’t come from living in Austria, they just come from living. My ability to doubt myself, my decisions and my ability as a mother doesn’t spring from my geography. It’s just me, being insecure and wanting everything to go well. I’m wasting the same energy here worrying if I’m making all the wrong decisions that I would wherever I was living. I realize that I’m going to make some bad decisions sometimes, but I need to remember to think about it like B and his drawing — sometimes we make a wrong decision, and then we learn something from it, and we do things differently next time. That’s it. It’s not a big deal, it’s just life.
And our stories today all have happy endings, anyway. When I got home, Liam was thrilled to see me, but he had spent lots of happy time playing with Jo. B’s teacher found his drawing AND they made another one, besides. Life is good. Things are good. Not every single moment is, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing everything wrong.