Our Sucky Day in Paradise

So at this point, I have like ten different posts written in my head. The only problem with doing so many interesting things is that I don’t have time to write about them.

It’s not a terrible problem to have.

However, this post isn’t about the interesting things (though I’ll get to those, soon, I promise). It’s about our most uninteresting day so far. Our Sucky Day in Paradise, if you will.

We’ve spent the past two weeks here in SoCal with sunshine and palm trees, an awesome pool just steps from our condo, beach access just a few steps farther, gorgeous drives up the Pacific Coast Highway, the best gelato we’ve ever had, and the smell of blooming jasmine wafting through the air. I kid you not, we keep pinching ourselves at the awesomeness of our life right now. Each day has seemed to be more perfect than the last.

I mean, come on. You saw the dolphin story, right? (P.S. If you’re not on Facebook, you probably didn’t see the e-mail I received that made that story ten times better – it’s in the comments of that post. It’s worth checking out, truly.)

Talk about a ridiculously amazing trip so far.

But then the other day happened. It was one of those days where everything was “off.” We didn’t really have much on the agenda, and I let whatever semblance of a routine we’d established totally slide. As a result of that, or the phase of the moon, or the universe’s need to balance out our blissful existence, or whatever reason, the kids were ear-piercingly loud, unusually rambunctious, and annoyingly bickery that day. On top of which, the call of “Mama! Mama? Mama? Mama!” was reeled off with such fervency and frequency that I began fantasizing about sticking sharp objects into my ears.

And all of this in our darling little 2-bedroom condo. A little 2-bedroom condo – even when surrounded by palm trees and gorgeous ocean views – is still a little 2-bedroom condo. And that day it was feeling very VERY small.

I finally gave up on trying to salvage any sort of schooling for the day, and decided to do something fun and outdoors. It was a bit too chilly for the pool or the beach. “Let’s go letterboxing!” I declared. The kids were thrilled with the idea.

(For those unfamiliar, “letterboxing” is kind of like geocaching – it’s a treasure hunt of sorts, where you follow clues from a website and find boxes people have hidden in random public places. Each letterbox has a stamp and a notebook in it. You bring your own stamp, stamp pad, and notebook with you. When you find the box, you stamp your stamp into the letterbox’s notebook with a little note about who you are and where you’re from, and then stamp the letterbox stamp into your own notebook with a little note about where you found it. Kind of cool. A friend of mine has a whole notebook filled with letterboxing stamps from her family’s letterboxing adventures.)

We’d tried letterboxing twice in Illinois, both times without success. We followed the clues, but the boxes were nowhere to be found.

But this is paradise! Everything works in paradise!

Except when it doesn’t.

We got to the first letterboxing site, which was at a park. I had told the kids that if, by chance, we didn’t find the box, we could just play at the park for a bit. We spent fifteen minutes searching through the bushes where the box was supposed to be, and found nothing. And my promise to play at the park fell flat because there was no play equipment or anything. Just a big baseball diamond.

The stupid letterbox was supposed to be in those stupid bushes to the left. This was the only stupid picture I took on this stupid day. It shows the one moment when there was hope of the stupid day being salvaged. But it wasn’t salvaged. It was stupid and sucky.

At this point, I remembered that we didn’t have a stamp pad in our letterboxing kit anyway, so we set off to the drugstore to pick one up.

On the way, we passed a library with a used bookstore. Cool! Let’s stop and buy a few used books! Got everyone out of the car, went into the library, and found out the bookstore closed 20 minutes before. Drat.

Got to CVS and searched the office and art supplies. No stamp pads.

So we went to Dollar Tree, where I had to fend off fifteen more “Mama? Mama? Mama?”s, as the moppets asked for every other piece of plastic junk they saw (which they usually don’t do, really).

We went to find another letterboxing site that had a cool little rhyming clue and got lost. Twice. Google maps has a hard time in paradise, it seems. The directions on the clue didn’t help.

After starting over and following the directions three times, and ending up in the same wrong place three times, I gave up. Cue the whining and dramatic upset from the youngsters in the backseat. Everyone is hungry, hot, and tired. And frustrated that we’ve now had four dud letterboxing experiences. And now it was quickly approaching rush hour.

So we went home, having spent most of the afternoon accomplishing nothing but purchasing a $1.00 stamp pad, which was probably manufactured by some poor kid in Indonesia working for pennies a day. (Which, of course, just added guilt for complaining about my First World sucky day on top of the sucky day.)

I mean, it’s not like we just survived an earthquake, or had our car break down on the freeway, or lost all our money or anything like that. We still had plenty to eat, everyone is healthy, and we aren’t living in a war zone. We’re in paradise, for crying out loud! No, this was just a normal, run-of-the-mill, mundane sucky motherhood day.

But those days really do suck. Those days when it seems like no matter what you do to try to make it better, it all just falls apart. At least if we’d survived an earthquake, we could say we survived an earthquake. Mundane, sucky motherhood days give you nothing to show for them. No triumph, no sense of accomplishment, nothing. Just general suckiness.

I was kind of hoping those days didn’t exist in paradise. But they do.

But every day after that sucky day has been fabulous again. And if you’re going to have a sucky day, you might as well have it with palm trees and sunshine. So paradise still wins. 🙂

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

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