Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Colic, children, sidewalk chalk

At this very moment, Zoë has been awake for over five hours. That's not really monumental but let's also point out that she stayed up (screaming) until after 1:00 in the morning, was up at 3 AM and then was up again at 5 AM.

Let's also point out that this is our new normal.

So I'm a bit tired.

The kids have been misbehaving—just putting their own wants before anyone else's, which I'll admit is natural but it also leads to willful disobedience to my directions and a lot of unkindness towards each other. So I've been dealing with that all day as well.

And then I just feel overwhelmed by yard work and housework. I feel like I work so hard to make our home a little neater and then I turn around and everything I've done is completely undone. Probably because that's exactly what's happening.

I tried to start the day off nicely. Benjamin and I made muffins for breakfast while the girls were sleeping in. But did anyone say thank you for the muffins? Not so much. But they did fight over them. So there's that.

And then there are other projects that I've been working really hard at and instead of garnering praise, people are picking it apart, which is fine because I don't do it for praise and, frankly, I'm sure a little criticism (constructive or otherwise) is good for my ego. But I volunteer my time to do it—my precious evening hours that I spend working on projects one-handed while coddling a screaming baby with the other—so it would be nice if people could be a little more lavish with their gratitude.

Bee. Tee. Dubs.

Zoë is suffering from "the colic."

Or maybe she's simply experiencing it and I'm suffering from it.

Her doctor gave me her deepest sympathies. But what can ya do?

Wikipedia states, "Baby colic (also known as infantile colic) is defined as episodes of crying for more than three hours a day for more than three days a week for three weeks in an otherwise healthy child between the ages of two weeks and four months. The cause of colic is generally unknown."

The cause maybe generally unknown but the effect, folks, is obvious: a steep decline in maternal sanity levels.

I'm feeling it.

I'm pretty sure I can actually feel my sanity trickling out of my body.

So, here I am, dangling at the end of my sad, little rope.

I took the kids on a mile-long walk (aiming to put the baby to sleep (fail) and blow off some steam (maybe win?)) and then sat them on the couch to decode the cryptic phrases I say to them every day, for example, how when I say to get dressed in the morning I mean get dressed and when I say not to hit your brother I mean don't hit your brother. Complicated things like that.

I finished this lecture and asked them to play nicely with Benjamin for a few minutes.

"I want to play LEGO!" chirped Benjamin.

"I don't want to play LEGO," Rachel whined.

"If you could just put aside your wants for a few minutes," I explained, "I promise you will find greater happiness than if you focus on yourself all the time."

And so the kids took out the LEGO. They dumped it all over the living room floor. They started playing and—heavens to Betsy!—they started having fun together.

I took this time to grab a cheese stick. Because I'm starving.

As I'm stuffing my face, the doorbell rings.

The last—THE VERY LAST—thing I want to do is face another person right now. For one thing, I'm in a sour mood. For another thing, I haven't even showered yet. Oh, and did I mention my mouth is full of cheese and the house is a disaster?

I open the door anyway. It's our neighbour from up the street.

He's holding three boxes of sidewalk chalk.

"Hi!" he says. "I just wanted to drop these off for your kids. We just love their artwork. There's one for each of them."

It's interesting how a bit of sidewalk chalk can lengthen one's rope.

Did this neighbour know I was feeling about ready to drop my children off at the animal shelter? No.

Did he know we're basically out of sidewalk chalk and the children have been drawing with little nubs the past couple of days? No.

Did he know he was the answer to the multitude of unuttered prayers I've offered throughout the day? No, but I'm calling this an answer to prayer.

I've never seen a vision or been visited by an angel, I've never heard a voice of thunder or had a column of fire give me directions, but I know an answer to prayer when I see one, and this was an answer to prayer.

So, my question is: how do you fit all that onto a thank you card?

My advice is: Whenever you get a prompting to do something nice for someone else, do it, even if it doesn't promise you any immediate joy—do it. Do it if it makes you feel a little awkward or uncomfortable. Do it if it is slightly inconvenient. Do it if you don't feel like doing it. But, by golly, do it! You don't know what it might mean to the recipient.

And, truthfully, if you put aside your own wants for a minute, I promise you will find greater happiness than if you focus on yourself all the time. I promise. When we work at making each other feel happy rather than making ourselves feel happy, then we'll be happy. That's how these things work. That's what makes the world go round.


  1. How lovely. I am grateful for your neighbor.

  2. Days like they make me wonder where I went wrong :). Thank goodness for sweet neighbors!

  3. Old southern remedy for colic - catnip and fennel. You can (or use to) get at a health food store. Grandma Quick from California suggested it for David when he had colic.