By Malkie Gordon Hirsch
I had one of those days recently.
You know, one of those days when things go bad. At first it’s unexpectedly. By around midday, you realize that you’ll have to brace yourself for the next few hours because you’re almost positive that everything else that can go wrong, will.
And then it did.
Mind you, these weren’t major life altering issues, just some medium scale annoyances that no one really needs. I’m almost ashamed to tell you about them but we’ve always been pretty open with one another (or rather, I with you) so I’ll just go ahead and tell you about my first world problems.
It started when I confidently sent my editor/therapist my weekly article and didn’t get her usually positive feedback. That in itself can put me in a downward spiral because I’m pretty sure you guys realize that every time I write something worth reading, I chalk it up to it being a major fluke.
It’s a special talent of mine, being able to constantly downplay or dismiss my abilities and thinking that week after week, it’s sheer luck that I’m capable of putting some writing together, with the use of some random thoughts floating in my brain, some scotch tape, and my daughter’s crayons, and maybe the occasional insightful thought.
Although it’s been coming together consistently for several years, somehow this was the week when I was finally unmasked as a fraud. The critique was not even devastating—just that there were two topics in one piece and maybe it would work better as two separate articles. Not exactly soul-crushing feedback. And of course she was her usual classy self about it and made it sound like no big deal and very fixable—which it probably would have been, if my deadline wasn’t at noon.
But that came and went and my article went in as is, so my apologies if it wasn’t up to par. Crazy how a harmlessly not-great article doesn’t end the world as we know it.
Shortly after that, Jeremy suggested that endorphins might put me in a better mood, since the article debacle had taken the wind out of my sails. Clearly he doesn’t realize that working out is in the top five things that I procrastinate about most, but I reasoned with myself and decided to just go with it. As I’m trying to keep up with the buff beautiful instructor (who clearly doesn’t have sweat glands) cheering me on from the other side of the screen, Jeremy walks in with the next hurdle of the day.
A passport belonging to one of the kids that we sent in for renewal in September was nowhere to be found. Now, if this had been somehow our fault, if we would have forgotten to renew a passport and had to scramble to get it reissued before we traveled, I would’ve been more than willing to right my wrong.
But the truth was that we had taken the necessary steps to make sure our kids would have the proper paperwork in time, so although me screaming “it’s not fair!” would solve literally nothing, it still felt good to act like a child for a few minutes with a bunch of the “but’s.”
But we planned ahead. But we expedited the passport.
But they should try to help us find it on their end.
But that doesn’t happen and so, an unplanned field trip to Manhattan would have to take place so that we’d be able to travel during winter break.
Then like clockwork, the next fun challenge of the day came in the form of my son’s refilled inhaler prescription.
“$986.12 please,” chirped the young pharmacist, seemingly unaware of the unlikelihood of someone spending nearly a thousand dollars on any type of medication.
And that, folks is how I found out that we had been walking around without any health insurance since the start of the new year.
At that point, I simply wanted to grab a pillow and blanket from a neighboring aisle at CVS, crawl under the covers, and just call it a day.
A very hard day with a lot of irritating adulting that I didn’t want to do.
I wanted to throw in the towel and wake up the morning after, hoping things would work themselves out without much effort on my part. Knowing that the only thing that I’d be doing was procrastinating (another hobby of mine) I had a good cry, wrote some e-mails to the party responsible for my insurance lapsing, and sprang into action.
We made phone calls to people who knew the right people to track down my son’s unprocessed passport renewal form sitting on a desk in New Orleans five months after expediting it, and had it arrive the day before we were due to leave the country.
We took care of the insurance snafu and paid the type of copay one would expect to spend on an inhaler. I’ve written a few articles since the time I wrote about my terrible horrible no good very bad day and decided to be gentle with myself.
My life has changed drastically in a relatively short time before your many eyes and on some weeks, I’ll write something deep and meaningful. And sometimes, it won’t be and that’s ok, too.
The most valuable lesson I took away from this particular bad day came from my therapist/editor who gets paid to dole out astute observations. As I went over the day with her a day after all this transpired, she laughed and told me how happy she was to hear me complaining about these things, to see that I could get back to this place. A place where “other people” were. A place where instead of worrying how I’d raise my kids on my own or being worried about what they’d be like since their father died when they were so young. I was now able to complain about more mundane, relatively passing matters, such as a missing passport or weak articles.
She was able in the matter of minutes to make me realize how grateful I was to be back to this place again. She was able to point out how ironically refreshing it was to be fretting over typical inconveniences from the “normal worries” category. It’s not that I won’t or don’t give myself permission to get aggravated about them—I do and I will. But that added perspective makes all the difference as far as being able to more deeply appreciate and savor the “bigger picture” in which they appear.
All those annoyances fell into place in a short matter of time. But the lesson she reminded me of how far I’ve come, how I’m capable of much more than before, how much I’ve grown and accomplished, and the gift of reframing these inevitable blessed “bad days” is something that’ll stick around for way longer.
Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, and a social media influencer.