I used to have a paper that had a big target bullseye in the middle of it.  Above the target it read: “Stressed?!*%&#” and the text underneath read: “BANG HEAD HERE”!  It could have been used in many different contexts: at the office (next to the copier and printer), at the end of the supermarket 15 items "express" check out lane (which to most people means 30), at the pediatrician’s office (in the waiting room where 20 children sicker than your own are coughing all over you) or at home  (for when the chaos has reached fever pitch, your children have drawn in permanent magic marker all over the dog, and you’re ready to run out the front door, screaming like a lunatic)…just a few places to enjoy the wry humor of such a sign!

I had that paper with the bullseye on my cupboard in the kitchen.  Under the “BANG HEAD HERE” in smaller lettering, it said, “until you are rendered unconscious!”  Sometimes, when I was totally stressed out, it was a very inviting idea.  I suppose the headache afterward would have been something that added to my stress later, but I was willing to risk it!

Fortunately, I came to the realization that “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts”, and decided to go that route instead.  Not much got through to me with a slice of triple layer chocolate cake on my plate. The house could be burning down, and I think I would take a chance and lick the last crumbs off my fingers before high-tailing it out to safety.

I am at a stage now when I can look back on the situations that used to cause me great amounts of stress and laugh at most of the memories.  Some of my “favorites” were the countless times I went shopping with all three of my boys. (Those of you with four or more can scoff at this point.) Inevitably, they would be begging, mixing it up with me, whining, having meltdowns, fighting with each other, getting into trouble with other customers (like yelling at an elderly lady in front of us to walk faster!), disappearing down other aisles, running amuck (love that word!), finding items to throw in the shopping cart that weren’t on the list, hanging on the cart precariously , then falling off and bumping their head, bothering their littlest brother in the seat of the cart, knocking over displays, and hijacking our cart (while I was picking out produce) to ram it into the poor stock boy!  I'll bet those things have never happened when you were shopping, right?

Whenever I had the opportunity to shop by myself, it felt as if I had been given a reprieve and a ticket to go on a vacation! I almost always came back with the makings of a pina colada… wondering how those items got into my cart?  

It’s funny how much stress three little people can cause! When our oldest got old enough to babysit his brothers, my husband and I would often leave him in charge and have a “big date night in the Snapple aisle”, as we would call it…just to get away and be able to talk to each other without interruptions and mind-blowing distractions.  Do you know what I mean? Are you tracking with me?   Don’t worry, we never got arrested for anything indecent exposure or anything!  But, it’s pretty sad when you’re so desperate, that a rendezvous in a supermarket can feel like a hot date!

When we coach parents, and teach marriage courses, one of the first things we tell our moms and dads, is that they have to spend time away from the children!  It is the key to sanity.  Most importantly, it is critical for keeping in touch with each other, finding out how your spouse is doing and how you can support and love one another through the pandemonium of parenting.  If it has to happen in the Snapple aisle…so be it. Been there and done that,  and it’s better than nothing!