Some days ya just gotta breathe deeply. A lot. You know the days I mean: when it feels like kids who aren't even yours are melting down just because you're nearby. When you wonder if a terrorist spiked the water system with hormones and the city's been stricken with universal PMS. When you're so worn down that you finally blurt to the argumentative child, "My name isn't Butmommy!"
Here are the things that work for me on days like today:
1. Breathe deep, pray often. The key advantage of breathing deeply is that it keeps your mouth occupied so you don't say something you shouldn't. When things get really bad, I pray Holy Spirit, guide my words! before almost everything I say.
2. Speak sparingly. When the kids were little my rule of thumb was five words or less. I find that once my patience has worn thin, I fall into a rant if I don't consciously limit my words.
3. Get the kids to speak sparingly. I put them 'on silence' for a while. This usually happens when we're in transit, and means no talking until we arrive at a given location. The consequence for disobedience is a yucky household chore (I'm not the world's greatest housekeeper, so I have these in abundance).
4. Listen to the voice in your head. Not the one that shouts "I can't take this!" but the tiny one that counters, "Well yes, actually, you can!"
Of course, none of these things work if I don't remember to do them. And there are days when the problem is me and my meltdowns/hormones/irritability. Thankfully, this wasn't one of them.
I've always thought that the best proof that God exists (and that He's merciful) is that even the worst day comes to an end. This day has almost come to an end. How excellent.