temper-tantrum-free-clip-artRemember last week when I wrote that pithy little post about the value of struggling…how it makes us stronger? The one with the precious little wine analogy?

In order to serve you better, dear readers, I decided to orchestrate an elaborately choreographed series of unfortunate events to illustrate the proper way in which one might deal with the struggles that life throws at us. An object lesson, if you will.  A few broken bottles of scotch, some ruined carpet and a busted up knee later, I think we have ourselves a story!

Late last Tuesday evening, as we were just drifting off to sleep, we heard a loud crash.  Not sure what was happening and somewhat concerned about a potential intruder, my husband raced down to the basement to investigate.  He returned shortly to put on shoes and told me what had happened.  One of the shelves in our basement, the shelves on which my husband’s collection of fancy scotch was displayed, had fallen.  Groaning under the weight of the heavy bottles, it had finally just collapsed.  I laid there for moment wondering if he would notice my absence should I choose to turn over and go back to sleep. I decided that the loving and grownup thing to do would be to get up and help him clean up the river of scotch and broken glass.

Wednesday afternoon, as my local readers will recall, we had a crazy storm. Torrential rain, hail and wind passed through quickly, but violently. A great deal of rain, in a short amount of time. Later that evening, I remembered that I had wanted to take another pass through the basement with our big vacuum to make sure that I had gotten up all the shattered glass that had resulted from the previous evening’s explosion of scotch bottles against the tile floor. When I entered the basement, I was shocked to find standing water covering a hundred square foot section of the carpeted area near the back door. As I explored further, I found the bag of broken glass from the evening before had been set outside the basement door and had, unfortunately, floated onto and blocked the drain at the bottom of the stairs resulting in those earlier torrents of water flowing under the door and into our basement.

Just to engage all your senses as you imagine the scene, the basement still smelled faintly of scotch.

And here, gentle reader, is where my bad attitude began to come into play.

When I discovered the flooded basement, I started calling my husband who was out of town and would be unavailable to participate in THIS evening’s clean up project. HE had taken our shop vac to the other house, so we had been unable to use it the night before when the shelves that HE built for HIS scotch had fallen. Now, I needed the stupid shop vac again to clean up the flood that had happened because HE had put the bag of broken glass on top of the drain.

When he did not answer his phone to commiserate with me and allow me to be gracious and loving to him in spite of the fact that this was clearly ALL HIS FAULT, my attitude went from bad to worse.

After much sighing and harrumphing and wrestling of wet towels, I decided to borrow a shop vac from a neighbor.  She was very kind and allowed me to commiserate with her for a few moments, since my husband was still not answering his phone. More sighing and harrumphing and self pity ensued as I wrestled with the shop vac ON MY KNEES, bless my little heart.

All the while, my husband was STILL not answering his phone so that I could be gracious and loving to him even though this was clearly ALL HIS FAULT and I had been left to deal with this giant mess without his help. I had not even had any dinner.  I tell you this so that you can appreciate that my admirable attitude could be partially attributed to blood sugar issues.

Did I mention that while I was on my knees cleaning up the mess, it made me very sweaty?  I prefer to not be sweaty unless I am wearing exercise clothes. I KNOW, RIGHT? BLESS MY PRECIOUS LITTLE PRINCESS HEART!!

So it was with this extremely mature, loving, gracious attitude in which I kept everything in proper perspective, that I decided to move the air hockey table to clean up the water under it. Clearly, since he was NOT ANSWERING THE PHONE, I had no choice but to try to move the 5 billion pound air hockey table by myself RIGHT THAT MINUTE. Because I am a giant strong woman who is often called upon to move big heavy things.

Even though, by this point, I had pretty much decided that I was going to have to call professionals to dry out the carpet anyway.

As I tried to move the air hockey table, I slipped and popped my knee out. And then almost immediately, as if it was a scene in a sitcom, my husband called back.

One of my girlfriends, after hearing the story, called it “martyr mom-ism gone wrong.”

Remember that part in last week’s post about making things harder than they have to be?

After several days of giant professional fans, the basement carpet is almost dry. We have gotten both girls moved home from college this weekend, in spite of wet floors and hurt knees. When I realized that I was going to be severely limited in what I could do to help them, they both stepped up and took care of business like champs. When I drove to Boston, I didn’t even go up to the dorm room to micro-manage the packing.  I just opened the car doors at the curb and waited for her and her friends to load it up.  I plan to have a hurt knee at move out next year as well.

So what are the lessons in this particular episode of struggling?

  • Keep things in perspective.  In this case, no one was sick or dying.  No one was in danger.  It was an inconvenience and a hassle, not an emergency.  If I had slowed down, taken a deep breath, said a prayer and eaten some protein, I probably would have made a better decision about moving the air hockey table and would not be sitting here with my leg up now.
  • Find the funny. For me, humor is a lifeline and often how God speaks to my spirit.  At one point while stomping my feet around the basement like a spoiled toddler, I experienced a passing moment of amusement at my grumpiness and bad attitude, as if I was standing outside myself watching the scene.  Instead of rolling with the ridiculousness of the situation, I instead decided to wallow in my self righteous frustration and continue careening down the mommy martyr path.
  • Slow down and think.  Again, this was not an emergency.  I definitely could have thrown down a few towels and waited to talk through the situation with my husband and weigh all the potential solutions.  Being emotionally reactive instead of calmly, prayerfully thoughtful led to negative consequences.  Usually this choice results in me saying something that I regret.  This time it led to me hurting myself.

Anyone else have a mommy martyr story?  I would love to know that I am not the only one! 🙂