Do you remember the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow movie, Sliding Doors? In it, Gwyneth dons another, fun to listen to but we all know it’s fake, British accent and we watch two versions of her life play out in parallel.
I had my own “Sliding Doors Day,” where I was observing parallel versions of how I would react to a situation. I could see how going in one direction would feel good in the moment, but would not serve me or my kids. The other option requires patience and a lot of deep breaths.
The events of my “Sliding Doors” day:
We need to leave the house in 15 minutes if I am going to be on time to meet a friend (I have a chronic habit of being late). My kids are taking their sweet time getting ready, I’m not ready for the day either, and I can feel the adrenaline rush into my bloodstream and my nerves electrifying.
Reaction #1: I shout at my kids, “We have to get moving! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”
Reaction #2: I realize raising my voice isn’t going to help and I still need to get myself dressed. I calmly, but firmly say “Listen, I really don’t want to be late, so I’m going to get myself ready and you can come find me when you are ready to get dressed, brush hair and teeth.” (I’m essentially giving myself a time out to decompress while doing my hair and make-up. It’s like hitting the reset button on my nerves.)
We miraculously are on the road! Then I miss my exit on the highway, adding 10 minutes to the drive and still making me late.
Reaction #1: I am super pissed and let my grumpiness change the mood in the car.
Reaction #2: I take some deep breaths and enjoy the fact I get to listen to 10 more minutes of the Hamilton soundtrack. The alternative would be Disney and this mama is sick of Alan Menken. I’m starting their Broadway musical education now.
At the park picnic bench, a woman very rudely tells us she rented the whole space, insinuating we need to pack up and leave.
Reaction #1: I angrily say under my breath, “WTF is wrong with this lady?! She needs to cool it!”
Reaction #2: I realize this lady is clearly having a stressful day and everyone is always going through something. Instead of lashing out, I thank her for her “patience and understanding” as we pack our picnic up.
We begin a challenging hike. My 3-year-old twins are not watching where they walk, and they are sometimes inches away from falling off the edge of the trail to certain doom.
Reaction #1: OH MY GOODNESS, what was I thinking?! They are going to fall off this cliff and die!
Reaction #2: Hold tight to their hands and holy moly, are we actually taking a real hike? Woo hoo! And look at the fall leaves, this is magical!
As we finish our hike and walk towards the parking lot, the twins each have a peepee accident and I only have one spare pair of 2T/3T underpants stashed in the car.
Reaction #1: Well, I guess we need to go home now.
Reaction #2: One kid gets the underpants and the other gets to air out her privates for a few hours until we get home. Going “au naturel” never hurt anyone.
Home at last. We made a trip to the ice cream store and visited a pumpkin patch. The naptime window is quickly closing.
Reaction #1: Ice cream for lunch?! The sugar rush and late hour will certainly destroy any chance of getting a good nap.
Reaction #2: Here’s hoping. Worse comes to worse, I’ll put on a movie and we’ll veg on the couch together.
The girls are sleeping soundly (I guess a hike tires them out more than ice cream revs them up). My husband walks in from a day out with friends. He asks, “How was your day?”
Reaction #1: “Oy, it was a doozy! We were late, we took a hike and the kids almost fell to their deaths, and then both twins had accidents and I didn’t have underwear! It was a mess.”
Reaction #2: “Oh my gosh, we all took a real hike and the forest was gorgeous. The girls had ice cream and picked out pumpkins. It was a really lovely day.”
It is so easy to turn into a frazzled and frustrated mama, I hope I always choose the second option and find the loveliness in every day.