Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jonah Days

It seems like I've been hearing about a run of Jonah Days (with friends) and it made me think of how I juggle all the MUST requirements of being a mom when I'm sick, miserable, cracking, near either a full scale CABOOM or an inglorious KERSPLAT!!!  I'm sure that's never happened to other moms, but, just in case, I shall share what has worked for me.

First, what is a Jonah Day?  One can certainly imagine the biblical Jonah was not having the best day when hanging out in the belly of a whale, but I first heard the term "Jonah Day" from one of my favorite literary characters, Anne of Green Gables.  The basic idea is that everything has gone wrong and the person in question is thoroughly frazzled.   Here are some quotes from the chapter "A Jonah Day" which is actually in the sequel Anne of Avonlea.

"It really began the night before with a restless, wakeful vigil of grumbling toothache. When Anne arose in the dull, bitter winter morning she felt that life was flat, stale, and unprofitable.
She went to school in no angelic mood. Her cheek was swollen and her face ached. The schoolroom was cold and smoky, for the fire refused to burn and the children were huddled about it in shivering groups...
[Horrible school day where she both disappoints herself by loosing her temper and winds up with literal fireworks exploding in the classroom when she tells a student to put a package in the furnace which she thought contained forbidden sweets.]...
Anne, by what somebody has called "a Herculaneum effort," kept back her tears until she got home that night. Then she shut herself in the east gable room and wept all her shame and remorse and disappointment into her pillows. She wept so long that Marilla grew alarmed, invaded the room, and insisted on knowing what the trouble was.
"The trouble is, I've got things the matter with my conscience," sobbed Anne. "Oh, this has been such a Jonah day, Marilla. I'm so ashamed of myself. I lost my temper... I feel that I have humiliated myself to the very dust. You don't know how cross and hateful and horrid I was..."
Marilla passed her hard work-worn hand over the girl's glossy, tumbled hair with a wonderful tenderness. When Anne's sobs grew quieter she said, very gently for her,
"You take things too much to heart, Anne. We all make mistakes but people forget them. And Jonah days come to everybody... This day's done and there's a new one coming tomorrow, with no mistakes in it yet, as you used to say yourself. Just come downstairs and have your supper. You'll see if a good cup of tea and those plum puffs I made today won't hearten you up."

Anne during her Jonah Day
(Anne of Avonlea film, highly recommended.)

So, whatever the set of trials, a Jonah Day indicates they've passed beyond the normal and are testing the coping abilities in a rather spectacular way.  What to do?

1. Perspective
When I'm experiencing a Jonah Day, the first thing I try to do is keep my perspective and often through using humor.  I try to smirk and wonder "what next" because I know I'm going to find this hysterical in anywhere from a day to a decade.  It takes the edge off the wallowing, adding that touch of the comic, and places the focus on a future fun / action i.e. no extra attention for the misery.

2. Critical Actions Only
What MUST get done?  This is sooooooooooo much easier now that I have a six year old.  Toddlers, babies don't care so much if your body aches and making their meal saps whatever energy a virus has left you with.  The key point here is to be ruthless with identifying the critical actions and letting the rest go until you're in a better physical/mental space to do anything without spitting nails or melting to goo.

3. TLC
This is a glorious chance to both accept and self-bestow Tender Loving Care (TLC)!  When I was a nurse in the hospital, I would literally tuck patients in, snugging the blankets close around them.  My patients were moms desperately worried about the child growing inside them, anxious about a million what-if questions... It is in the most trying times that a little TLC goes a long way to give strength and comfort.

So... I hope that's been a bit helpful.  I remember days where a flu had me so low that it took me a half hour to move from the couch to the kitchen and I had a toddler who was learning lots about patience and what being sick looks like!  I remember days where I made so many mistakes that I thought just one more note of a whiny voice would make me lava lady with my home reduced to ashes.  But, I've never been in a place where a Jonah Day touched my sense of life.  A Jonah Day does not have the power to change the nature of my joy in living.  It doesn't even have the power to dampen my spirits unless I let it and being a mom has given me plenty of practice at keeping that grin :)


And... when I'm caught unawares, bowled over, sometimes literally knocked flat in the sand... I try to laugh and to remember how joyous it is to have a child that loves me so much, that  he wants to fire every neuron in his brain with the feeling of being close to mommy.  (From my "Manners for Sensory Seekers" post)

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