This week was rough. This was my first week as a stay-at-home parent to three kids under 5. We were all getting over a two-day travel getting back from the holidays. We were all getting over having the extra hands, arms, and ears of family members ready and willing to play, listen, hug, and look after each of the three children and their competing needs. We were all getting over Dad going back to work full time. We were all getting over colds and sleepless nights and…well, let’s just say it was an adjustment.
So, there I was at 4 in the morning with a newborn in a bouncer on the kitchen counter, both of us covered in drying milk after a fussy feeding. I was frustrated after having, for the countless time that night, soothed my 2 year old in his latest round of requests and concerns. My feet hurt, my back hurt, my head hurt, my…everything just hurt. And there I was at 4 in the morning, cooking eggs so that my husband could have a warm breakfast before heading out for a long day.
I was feeling sore and trapped and defeated when I shattered 2 eggs on the counter, having missed the bowl entirely. Well, not entirely…half of the eggshells fell into the bowl of already cleanly cracked eggs. My morning was barely manageable as it was, and now I had a choice between tossing out the eggs (which looked like oddly floating gelatinous dollar bills to my exhausted eyes) or painstakingly picking out the eggshells.
Choosing the latter option, my tears of frustration and exhaustion mingling with the eggs themselves, I worked to remove the splintered pieces. The longer I concentrated on my task, the more I realized I was becoming calmer. With every attempt to grab an eggshell, I became more focused. With every successful extraction, I felt more centered. Something about that mindless but all-consuming concentration required to remove the tiny calcified pieces put me in a focused place where my frustrations and pain didn’t seem so intense.
Sure, I hadn’t slept more than a couple of hours a night in weeks, but I had a task that could be COMPLETED in a matter of moments. This was something I could DO. I may not be able to fix my son’s bouts of insomnia, but I could fix this problem. I couldn’t conquer the mountain of chores and to-do’s in my house, but I could conquer this task. I might not be feeling appreciated by my drama-queen 4 year old, my tantruming 2 year old, or my colicky newborn, but I knew my husband would be grateful for a warm, homemade breakfast.
It was extraordinary. By the time I finished, my mind was clear, my eyes were dry, and my life felt a little bit more manageable.
Would I have preferred not to create the mess in the first place? Absolutely. But, thankfully, I was able to recognize and appreciate the change that recovering from the mess created in me. It can be hard to be thankful for these “broken eggshell” moments in life. While they are frustrating, they can be gifts in disguise if we can accept them for what they are: moments of grace.