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There are moments in life where I realize I need to take a moment to read the signs and realize that I’m a bit, well, stressed, about life in general.

This time of year is busy, and it’s important to make sure I’m getting enough sleep, and not working too hard, and finding time for me, and exercising, and watching my alcohol intake, and eating properly, and spending quality time with family and friends and the girls, and (good God, I should make a list, no wait, that defeats the purpose!) ….

… I need to focus on calm.

Or I find myself in situations like this:

Gumball attack

After a busy day at the office Monday I picked the kids up from daycare and decided we’d go to the Dollar Store and pick up some fun stuff for them to wear to daycare for St. Patty’s Day today.

I rock this working mom thing, right? Cool hats and faux green feather boas. You’ll be like princess leprechauns! Then we’ll get sushi for dinner from the grocery store.

This’ll be awesome.

And it was. Right up until we got into the mall and passed by the gumball machine outside the Dollar Store.

Yes you can have gum! We’re having fun girly time, after all.

I handed a quarter to my 5-year-old and fished one out for my 2-year-old.

It’s one of those machines where the gumball spins down so half the fun is watching its twirly descent.

Except something went wrong with the ramp and Gumball A got stuck.

No problem. I rocked the machine a bit to see about getting it back on track.

No go.

My 5-year-old stuck her hand up inside to try to get the ball out given it was just one rung up from the exit point.


But no.

Mild 5-year-old panic set in: identifiable from the whine and demand for another quarter so she can get gum from ANOTHER machine.

While fishing for said quarter my two-year tries to fix the problem by putting her quarter in the broken machine. She can’t turn the lever so it sits in the coin slot.

I try to remove it.

Have you ever tried to do this?

It’s just not happening.

With certain machines there is an upper ridge that holds the coin in. You’d need tweezers to get that quarter out.

At which point my 5-year-old started smugly smacking her gum at my 2-year-old who immediately freaked out and asked for another quarter.

So I’m out a dollar before ever making it to the Dollar Store!

And my two-year-old is also gesturing at the broken machine in a way that clearly indicates: Mommy, can you also turn the knob on the broken machine for me? Why can’t MY gumball run the dysfunctional gumball gauntlet to the end point of JUST SHORT THE WHOLE POINT OF THE BLOODY MACHINE? Please can you pay 25 cents to get my hopes up momentarily just to disappoint me again? I’m looking for a reason to make a scene at the mall.

Now, some parents might cut their losses at this point, explain the machine is broken, and move on.

I, on the other hand, decided that mother#$*in’ gumball machine wasn’t gonna best me sitting there with Gumball A just out of reach and Quarter B so touchable yet irretrievable.

After a few loud comments to thin air about how SOMEONE should put an out-of-order sign on the machine because it’s BROKEN I:

Put my purse down.

Took my coat off.

Tied my hair back.

Took my work pass off and stuck it in my purse.

And I shook that mother#$*in’ gumball machine until I jiggered that ramp back into place and it coughed up Gumball A.

I then collected my possessions from the floor of the mall, gathered my children to me, turned the knob, and we all watched with what I’d like to think was EXTRA appreciation as Gumball B made its twisty way down its long and winding road successfully to its door and my two-year-old.

We then went to the Dollar Store where I determinedly avoided eye contact with anyone in the store who had clearly observed me going postal on said gumball machine.

And in case that wasn’t enough of a sign that I may be in need of a good night’s sleep, I’d just like to juxtapose that experience with this past Sunday at the gym.

After my workout, I picked my kids up from playcare and took them swimming at the gym’s indoor pool.

We’ve started doing this more Sundays than not.

To get to the pool, we need to pass through the change room which has both a hot tub and sauna.

Kids under twelve aren’t allowed in the hot tub, but they are in the sauna, so when my 5-year-old first asked to go in, I agreed. For three minutes.

So we now do a short visit each time we go to the gym. Part of our ladies afternoon, if you will. If there are others in there, we either don’t go or ask if they mind for a few minutes. I’ve only had one comment to date about how I’m adversely affecting the health of my kids.

That said, we went in on Sunday and my five-year-old climbed up to the top bench, crossed her legs, closed her eyes, put her hands up while resting elbows on her knees and let out a contented sigh.

“What are you doing?” I inquired, after a moment.sauna_meditate

“I’m meditating, Mommy.” Deep inhale and exhale.

“I see that. Where did you learn it?”

“Daycare!” she replied. Apparently my daycare provider’s tween daughter has a friend who is in to meditating and they’ve taught my daughter a few things.

Perhaps I should learn too.

I leave you with a song tonight. May the rest of the week go smoothly for us all!

Photo credits: Gumball machine from here. Karate Moms from here and here.

The sauna image is courtesy of worradmu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net and the meditating child is by sattva also at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Jon Stewart gif links to source.