Saturday, August 9, 2014

It is Good to Have a Bad Day

Yesterday was 'one of those days'. I was very disappointed in myself because one should not be having one of those particular kind of days on their fourth day back to work, after a two week vacation. But I did. And there is no going back now.

While we are living those days (that I am so afraid are going to be on the reel of highlights when my life flashes before my eyes one day), we can't see beyond that moment. "I feel this way and I am justified in feeling this right now! Just let me be this way and act in this manner right now because I just need to ride the wave..." are the gist of the thoughts that I am thinking when I am at my worst.

I replay the moment later in the day and chide myself for being so immature and wrong and short sighted and unrelenting in simply letting things slide.

Then comes the part where I replay those moments out loud, with another human being (that is older than three years of age) and I hear the whole story. My side, the other side, the outside-looking-in-side.

I am very fortunate. My Youngest Son is my biggest fan, critic, advocate and teller-of-what-he-sees-and-feels. He sits quietly among many hours of my Daycare Days and says very little at times but whenever he acts and reacts to the kids, it is with a complete sense of calm, control and modulated tones. One would never tell from the outside, looking in if he was upset in that moment. Me? Not so much.

When you spend your day in a one-to-three-year-old world, without adult intervention, there are moments that are simply ... hard.

Yesterday, I was craving adult conversation and intervention. A perfect moment in time presented itself and the opportunity to speak adultese to a person who understood multi-layered conversation was at my fingertips. But I lost it all in a moment. A child started crying and quietly sobbed, "I want to go home..."

Everything stopped. I think the world even stood still for a second. It was a plea for help and I was the only one who could walk through the anguish with my little girl.

One would imagine that in the world-of-daycare, that I have heard this plea often. I haven't. Children may think and feel these thoughts at the onset of their day or if they are sick or simply missing their parent. But it has been the very, very rare occasion where the actual words are uttered (welcome to my world of one-year-olds).

As a rule, there is a sense of fun, play, activity and friendship which overrules homesickness within our days. Yesterday was not one of those days.

One of our friends was missing. She is going to be gone for (almost) three weeks. This was her friend's first day with out her. Sometimes, one never quite realizes the impact of one person until they are missing. Yesterday was that day.

My little homesick girl was not feeling well. She was missing her friend. It was hot outside. It was close to lunch time. Her mom had told me to call if her daughter didn't seem to be feeling well. My instinct was to call her immediately. My head told me to take care of the basics first. Lunch. Go inside and cool off. Modulated voice, kindness, empathy, caring and trying to put myself in her shoes came immediately into action (hey! I just realized I am not so terrible after all).

We got through that moment but there were simply so many more. There was crying. There was unkindness. There was boredom. There was bickering and arguing. There was more crying. I didn't get my adult-fix and I was wearing thin.

I simply could not wait for the day to end. Then as it ended, my Real Life walked in the door, at the same moment my Daycare Day walked out. There was no time for transition. I wasn't grounded when a friend called and simply needed an ear. She only had one of my ears because the other one was full of the 'chatter' of a parent returning, looking for a missing hat; followed by my Youngest Son's update from his day out with friends at The Ex (and soon needing a pick-up).

One moment segued into the next and I never regained my bearings until my head hit the pillow. I wasn't even busy. I was simply 'in demand' by the over-three-year-old crowd that I had been craving - the companionship that I had wanted all day.

Before my head hit the pillow last night, my Youngest Son and I talked about 'my day'. His sense of seeing and feeling things, comes from a place of 'being there'. He has been one of my daycare crowd. And he never forgets what that feels like. He brings the voice of his childhood (translated into the children presently in my care) and he gives me a very good sense of what it is like from where my children stand. He is the voice of reason.

We volleyed words back and forth. I felt like a total schmuck because I lost my cool resolve and became frustrated in the moment. The moment passed very quickly and within a few minutes we were all sitting and reading and singing and all was ever-so-much-better. But (in my mind) I should not have had 'that moment' at all. 

I am very good at beating myself up. Please don't help me...

Then I woke up this morning. I was greeted by one of my daycare-promoting-sites needing an update. This always results in a general overhaul over everything promotional concerning my daycare. I update my sites and start selling myself again.

As I went through the process of 'selling myself' this morning, I could see what yesterday brought to light. I was seeing the value of my 'bad day'. It promoted a conversation with my son that helped me see what I needed to see. An encounter with a daycare-child-of-my-past (now in her second year of university) opened my eyes to see a direction that I would like to go (I think we need some older children in our midst!).

Looking at the day in the light of a new morning with only the shadow of the 'mistakes of the past' behind me I realized that if I thought every day was a great day, there would be no room for improvement. There is always room for improvement.

That is the value of a bad day. The contrasts in life center us and bring us to the place where we most-want-to-be. That very same bad day could have sent me packing and looking for a different career. But it didn't. It was truly not that bad. It was simply not the day I want to have flash before me in my 'This is Your Life' movie reel. It is a day that will make that very same movie, the movie that I most want to see one day.

Bad days can help us to become better. Or not. It is truly our choice. But it is a choice. I choose to find the value in a day that felt bad-at-the-time and turn it into a tool to make tomorrow a better day. And to be willing to do it all over again when it happens again. Because it will. It always does. Hopefully I will evolve to a new level of learning as the lessons of life keep repeating themselves. Sadly, I recognize this lesson from one I did not learn before.

Life is generous. It keeps giving you the same lesson over and over again until you learn. Unfortunately I must be a slow learner.

Today is a new day. Take your lessons learned and run with them!

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