Today, I fell victim to a tinge of self-pity. Since feeling sorry for myself is the quickest way that I know of to fall flat on my face, I try to be ready with a quick self-rebuke. “It could always be worse,” I said aloud, smiling as I remembered the story behind the little saying…
It was 2005, and we were living in a tiny, one room cabin while Kevin built us a house. This time was full of trials, and not least of them, were the thousands upon thousands of insects that we had to deal with.
It was a particularly bad mosquito year, and the situation that we were living in made it even worse. There were air passages above and below the door, and the mosquitoes trickled in. Ethan and Owen were under a year old and still had several naps a day. Every nap time, I would have to take the girls outside so the boys could sleep. We spent hours and hours sitting in the van, as to be outside was unthinkable.
Did you know that there are different species of mosquitoes? We got to know some of the different kinds. The big ones are the first of the season; massive, dopey ones. They weren’t so bad- easy to see, slow, easy to kill. But, did they ever make a mess all over the walls!
The tiny ones that came after were terrible. They were extremely fast and actually seemed intelligent in their ability to avoid annihilation. And tough too! Even when I gave them a good swat, they would buzz away triumphantly. One trick gave me the upper hand though- wet hands.
I found that the mosquitoes would swarm around me as I did the dishes. They seemed to be attracted to the humid air. As I swatted at them, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they would stick to my wet hands. I am slightly ashamed of the fact, that I actually enjoyed those killing sprees.
Sleeping became more difficult with the cabin humming with the buzzing fiends. They would take turns attacking us through the night, and sleep was at best fitful. I found that I could bring down the mosquito population by offering my arm as bait. I would go to bed an hour before I wanted to sleep, and leave my arm exposed while reading a good book. And when a mosquito landed, I would smack it with glee. I learned to be patient. Swatting wildly wasn’t nearly as effective as a carefully calculated blow. I would even wait until I felt the little sting of the proboscis, then I knew I had him (I mean her .) In this case, the buzz is worse than the bite.
And just when I thought that it couldn’t possibly get any worse, the black fly season began. I came to hate, those tiny, seemingly harmless creatures. They would crawl into my children’s hair and clothing and leave huge welts and trickles of blood. Unlike the mosquitoes, they attacked with stealth and silence.
At this point I really felt that I couldn’t bear anymore, and that is when the red ants poured into the little cabin. I’m not kidding. This is a true story! This cabin is built in a sandy area that these red ants love. Melanie was sleeping on a little mattress on the floor and she would wake up wailing, because she had rolled onto a whole line of the little critters. They would take offence and pinch. Thankfully their pinches were venom-less, but the sheer multitude of the ants was overwhelming.
At first I was mad, but over time I just became tired. What was the point in fighting, I couldn’t win. The ants would crawl up my skirt, and pinch my legs when the fabric brushed them. My son Ethan crawled quite early and liked to catch them and then pop them into his mouth! On several occasions, I opened his mouth and pried loose the little varmints. Ethan didn’t mind a bit. I think that he liked the taste! (Sorry to gross you out, but they taste a lot like vinegar. Not that I’ve eaten them, but they at least smell strongly of vinegar when you squish them. Go figure!)
“What am I supposed to learn from this?” I found myself wondering. “Surely there is a reason for this madness.” Then it came to me, when I was battling the mosquitoes and thought things couldn’t get worse, the black flies came. And when I once again thought things couldn’t get worse that’s when the red ants came. So, could things get worse? They sure could! “So quit you’re complaining and learn to smile at adversity!” That was my lesson.
Now I realize that this is not your average uplifting post. It is likely, that not everyone finds the fact that things could be worse, encouraging. But hey, it works for me!