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Turning $#*! into Ice Cream

icecreamHow to turn around a bad day

I had a rough day the other day. Actually, you could call it a crappy day. Literally.

I woke to the sweet sounds of my phone alarm at 3:45 a.m. No, you did not read that wrong, that is the time I wake up on weekdays to get ready for work and meet my 5:00 a.m. clients. I actually don’t mind the early rise though, I’ve always been much more of an early bird than a night owl. The trouble with it lately is that I currently work until 7:00 or 8:00 most nights, so the the blissful sounds of birds chirping in the morning sound more like nails on a chalkboard some days.

 

So, I hit snooze. Now it’s 3:53 and time to start the morning fun. I did everything I normally do in the morning: had a big glass of water, made sure I had all of my clothes ready, and did a double check for my keys, wallet, and sunglasses. Everything seemed in order, so I made my way to my wakeup shower.

 

In the shower I began to think about 357 things. The broken sprinkler system I had to tend to on the coming weekend (which I thought I had fixed the week before). The workout I was going to do with my 5:00 client. How I had several cancellations and gaps in my schedule that I needed to fill if I expected anything more than a pathetic pay check. Kids activities. Dishes leftover from dinner the night before. A name for our new baby coming in about 4 weeks. The mess in the garage I need to get organized. More yard work to be done. The old hot tub in the back yard that needs to be fixed. Where am I going in life? How can I make more money? Did I find my keys this morning? Does my daughter have softball practice today? Where do I take the kids after school today? Does my wife have a doctor appointment today? Okay, maybe it wasn’t 357 things, but it had to have been a couple dozen.

 

Mid-shower, I felt something. Something. That. Was. Not. Going. To be. Good. It started with heartburn, then, in 4.3 seconds went to that feeling. That feeling we have all experienced. The “I’m about to have the shits” feeling. I won’t go into detail about the next 5 minutes, but it wasn’t fun.

 

After Episode 1: 1st Poop, I sent a text I sent a text to my 5:00 client. “I woke up really sick and can’t make it in.” No response. I wait a little bit longer. Still nothing. I decide that now that there couldn’t possibly be anything left in my body that I can drive down to the gym (only a 10-minute drive) and tell her in person that I’ll be out sick for the morning. Thankfully, I only drove a few hundred yards when I got a text response back while sitting at a stoplight. I flipped a u-turn and headed back home. Thank God. Because as I pulled into the driveway, it was back.

 

Episode 2: The Toilet and Floor War

 

I ran to the bathroom. Without going completely TMI, I can say that this was not just any old diarrhea, this had to be food poisoning or something. The heartburn and pain in my stomach was beyond words. I wanted to die. It was that bad. This intestenal workout went a little something like this:

 

AMRAP

5 minutes: Sitting on toilet

5 minutes: Curled up in a ball on the floor

 

After the first round, I realized that I now had to do something about my 6:30 group class that I teach at the gym. Writhing in a gut pain, I summoned (okay, pleaded) for my wife to bring me phone so I could text some of my colleagues about filling in to teach the class. My wonderful wife, 8 months pregnant and sensitive to smells, braved the storm as far as the bathroom door of the master bathroom. “Can you just text some people for me?” I asked her.

 

“Deal.”

 

I conjured up the strength to belt out a few words. “Text Zach, Z-A-C-H…” (pause, splat sound) “…ask him…” (pause, ungodly noise) “…if he can…” (pause, squirt, sound from hell) “…teach my 6:30 class.”

 

“Okay,” my wife said, now fully awakened by the sound of my bowels, “Anything else?”

 

“No. Wait. I don’t know. (more sounds – use your imagination).”

 

I didn’t get a response back from Zach about the class, so I went ahead and texted some people in the class from my curled-up-in-a-ball position on the floor.

 

“Looks like class is canceled today, I’m not feeling well.” The understatement of the year.

 

I continued with my sitting on the toilet/balling on the floor routine. I lasted a full 2 hours – a PR for me (unfortunately). After that amazing workout, I was all sweaty and my FitBit said I burned 637 calories.

 

Now it was time for a nap.

 

 

Episode 3: Return of the Poop

 

I woke up my slumber fully expecting to pick up where I left off in the bathroom, but no. I actually felt decent considering what the morning had brought me. There was a different sort of bathroom fun awaiting me. I felt like a shower, so I went into the hall bathroom to grab a towel, as there were none in the master bath. Upon entering the bathroom, a horrid smell came upon me. Apparently one of the kids had clogged the toilet in the morning rush to school. Yay!

 

I took the plunger, gave the toilet a flush, and began plunge. BIG PROBLEM. The toilet water did not shut off, just kept flowing, and eventually overflowed, poop, toilet paper, and all, all over the bathroom floor. By instinct, I tried to shut off the water at the toilet, only the toilets in our new house do not have a shutoff valve at the toilet. There is a central shutoff panel downstairs which was apparently used for a brief period of time in the 1990s before people realized it was stupid. So I ran downstairs to shut off the valve to the upstairs toilet.

 

But it was too late.

 

I went back upstairs in a frantic rage gathering up any and every towel I could find to barricade the poop water into the bathroom and prevent it from entering the carpeted hallway.

 

I spent two hours or so cleaning up this mess. I wanted to cry. At one point maybe I did. I may or may not have been so mad that I threw the laundry hamper into the wall. Yeah, it was one of those moments. After the final bit of bleach solution was applied to the floor, I pointed a floor fan toward a small amount of carpet that got wet. The poop water seeped through part of the towel barricade, apparently.

 

I looked at the time, and it was time to go pick the kids up from school.

 

Episode 4: Freaking Out Over Poop

 

I grabbed the kids from school. On the way home, I told the kids they could not go in the bathroom because I had the carpet outside of the bathroom torn up to dry and there were nails exposed and what not. I didn’t want to add tetanus shots to the day’s adventures if one of them stepped on a nail.

 

“Uggh.. I can’t go in my bathroom? Can I even get into my room?”

 

“EWWW!!! You used our towels to clean up the poop water. I’m not using those towels ever again.”

 

I was so tickled. Their gratitude for my two hours of slaving in poop water after my own pooping incident in the morning hours was heartwarming to say the least.

 

We got home and I went to work on doing dishes from the night before (now that I had some free time). I went on to cook an early dinner, because my oldest daughter had a softball game later that night. As a I cooked up a batch of semi-homemade spaghetti, I enjoyed the smells of garlic, basil, and other Italian-blend herbs, as I soaked in the sweet sounds of siblings screaming at each other. Yelling has seemed to become a formality in our house. It’s the go-to thing when things are not going perfect.

 

*****

 

Toilet overflows. Yell.

 

Dog barks too much. Yell.

 

Siblings look at you the wrong way. Yell. Or Wine. Or scream. Or all of the above.

 

*****

 

So… the kids continued with their screaming matches as I plated dinner for them. I called them all to the table to eat. We had to eat quickly so I could get to the gym before 6:00 to teach a class and my kids could be ready for my wife to pick them up and go to my daughter’s softball game. My youngest told me to wait because she had some coloring to do. My middle child told me to hold on so he could continue playing on his iPad.

 

“No guys, we all need to get to the table now so I’m not late for work and your sister is not late for softball,” I said calmly, for now.

 

The youngest one whined with, “I don’t want to.”

 

The middle one said, “Ahh man. Spaghetti? I’ll make something else. Pizza,” he said going to the freezer.

 

“No,” I said sternly. “I need you two to listen. Come sit down and eat what I made or we are all going to be late.”

 

Whiny voice #1: “I don’t want to.”

 

Whiny voice #2: “But Dad…”

 

“LISTEN!!!” I lost it. My day of having the runs, cleaning up poop water, and having the kids whine, scream and complain, all culminated with a freakout scream. “Get the table and eat… NOW!”

 

*****

When kids don’t listen, scream at them. More parenting tips like this in the upcoming book ‘Father of the Year’ by Glen Gosch.

 

*****

I now had two kids crying and making their way to the table. They had tears running down their face while eating spaghetti, and I felt like shit for yelling so loud, but they were eating now and we might make it to work and softball on time, respectively. So, win? Amongst the commotion, my oldest daughter made it to the table in her softball uniform. We sat there. One big happy family.

 

“Who’s taking me to softball?” My daughter asked.

 

“Mom. I think.”

 

Where was my wife? She had a doctor’s appointment for a non-stress test on our 4th child, due in about 4 weeks. I went to grab my phone and saw that I had a missed call and a text from her.

 

“The appointment is running late because the baby is not moving. Can you drop off the kids with my parents and they will take them to the game? My phone is about to die.”

 

Could this day get any worse? Baby is not moving, what does that mean? Now it’s 5:40. I have to leave in 5 minutes to get to work on time to teach class. I have two kids still sniffling while they eat, and the third freaking out about if she will make it to her game. Can someone say, “Murphy’s Law?”

 

Long story, short: I made it to work on time. My wife’s parents were able to get the kids and take my daughter to the game. The unborn baby was fine, she was just sleeping and not cooperating with the ultrasound tech. I got off work at 7:00 and was able to go see part of my daughter’s game. My wife had made it over to the game too. Everything had calmed down: the kids, my stomach, and my stress level.

 

Episode 5: Ice Cream

 

You could say it was a bad day. But, as I got off of work that night, I thought about something. I woke up in an air-conditioned house, in the United States of America. I pulled food from a fully-stocked refrigerator to feed my aching stomach. I drank clean water. I drove 3 healthy kids home from a nice school in a nice neighborhood, to our nice house in a nice neighborhood. Later, after tucking in the kids, I would lie down in a comfy bed next to a beautiful woman carrying our 4th child. Not bad.

 

When I arrived home from the softball game that night, my wife arrived about 10 minutes after me with the kids. She had stopped to get ice cream for the whole family. We finished the evening with smiles and ice cream. Again, not bad.

 

Moral of the story: If you’re having a crappy day, just eat ice cream.

 

Okay, not really. The reality of this bad day I had, was that it was caused by a lot of unnecessary stress, anxiety, and unbalance I had allowed into my life.

 

Unbalanced between work and home – I had been spending far more time working than enjoying time with the kids.

 

Unbalanced with my workouts – I had been skipping yoga and stretching. Any time I do yoga on a regular basis, I feel so much better, yet when I get busy it seems to be the first thing I drop from my routine.

 

Unbalanced with my emotions – Like I had mentioned, the stress and yelling had been over the top. I had been starting each day worrying about the day ahead.

 

Episode Now: Finding Balance

 

The solution to the (some of the) unbalance in my life now is easy:

 

First: Schedule time with the kids. Put work aside, and just play with them!

 

Second: Yoga first. No excuses. Do yoga early in the week so it does not get skipped.

 

Third: Start each day calm and be thankful. I started this by making a “Thankful List” each morning. I make a list of 5 things on my Google Keep app that I am thankful for. Reasons why I am thankful for my kids, thankful for my wife, thankful for my life, and thankful to God. I am literally counting my blessings in the morning. It makes the day start out on a great note.

 

That’s it for now.

 

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