Well folks, it’s been one of those ‘You’re doing it wrong’ kind of weeks. Moms, you know what I’m talking about…the days where in the morning before everyone wakes up you are filled with love for your amazing kids. That leads into some reflecting over the night before and how maybe you were too harsh with them…they were just playing and you got all upset about the noise (cacophony) and lost your temper. They’re only playing for goodness sake and they won’t be this little forever.
This has been my life this week. First, I acknowledge that me getting loud or impatient does absolutely zero in correcting the misbehavior. In fact, it’s the opposite. I know this to be true because they are completely different people at school or in the care of other more stable, emotionally mature adults. Unfortunately, stable and emotionally mature does not describe Dreamy and me by 5:00 pm.
The thing about being Mommy though, is that sometimes you don’t get to take a break or time out even if you GENUINELY need one! Even when Dreamy tries to pinch hint they revolt and storm the gates. Then I resort to old behavior – which is when I want someone to leave me alone (or stop dating me, or whatever) instead of asking for what I need in a reasonable way, I act like a total cow until they back off. This is not how grown-ups should act. But a couple times this week I unintentionally did just that by being impatient, humorless, and just hard to be around. And yes, there are reasons for my frustration, but that doesn’t change the effect it has on the people for whom I am their whole world.
So then, with renewed resolve, I pray for patience, and the ability to be in the moment, and not so pulled-in-1000-directions that I can’t just enjoy my kids.
Then they wake up, and after ten minutes of cuddling and snuggling all holy hell breaks loose once again and I find myself saying (too loudly):
Why isn’t anyone listening to me! When I say stop dancing naked on the table, I mean it! Quit saying nananana (pick a kid)! Quit tattling about (pick a kid) saying nananana because I actually don’t care! Yes (pick a kid) I know I’m not your best friend anymore. You know what? That’s fine – you just use me for menial labor, anyway. No (pick a kid), (pick another kid) is NOT the ‘bad’ one. You’re all good. Equally good. Yes, really.
On the way to preschool yesterday I literally said, “Okay guys, let’s drop the crap and just be real with each other. You guys are trying to make me crazy. I know it’s true, so let’s just deal with it. No more hidden agendas, let’s just get it all on the table. Okay?”
Then I magically transport myself to the future, where my adult kids are all sitting around complaining about what an unpredictable harridan I am, and how all they remember about their childhoods is Mommy yelling at them and how they’re totally not coming for Christmas this year because their in-laws are much saner and nicer people.
I was tested to the limits this week when I volunteered (of my own free will) to do childcare at preschool while the other moms decorated for the Sweetheart Ball. To set the scene you need to understand that even after having 3 kids AND being in a co-op preschool I’m not really a fan of being around more than 2 (yes, I can count) kids in an unstructured environment. Not to mention, the fact that I was old enough to be the other two moms’ mom somehow resulted in me being made the de facto ‘mom in charge’.
The thing with me being in charge is that I will totally take on the role, but understand that my parenting style is pretty much Hands Off if you’re simply being rambunctious and annoying (unless you want to play scissors tag, which I don’t allow yet), Wrath of God if you’re dangerous, mean, or rude, and Super Cool if you want to read with me or have tea parties. Unfortunately, this clashes with many other parents’ styles of not saying ‘no’, not enforcing good manners and inclusive behavior, and being overly concerned with minor injuries like falling off a chair that you climbed after I told you not to.
So here I am, stuffing pretzels and cookies down everyone’s throat (except for the organic-only kids, because hey, I respect boundaries) and this group of 5-year-old mean girls won’t stop RUNNING when there are two freaking INFANTS ON THE FLOOR! Now, I’m sorry, but when there’s a conflict between your little princess’s right not to be screamed at by me and a BABY DYING, I’m picking the baby. Not that the mean kids cared. They didn’t even blink. It was eerie…they would stare right at me, as I explained why they couldn’t run on babies, fling each other around, and dismantle the classroom, and then do it anyway!
And they were little social jerks too. Bisky and her friend asked play with them at one point (God knows why), and the little witches actually closed ranks (literally forming a circle, linking hands and not letting them in). Boy, was I livid. I told Bisky and her friend, loudly, while staring at the mean girls; “See, this is a good example of someone being total creep and a mean girl. See how bad it feels when someone acts like this? Don’t ever act like this because it’s awful.”
So they all repented and played nicely together. Not. Actually no one cared, except Bisky who thought I was calling her out for something and got mad and wouldn’t speak to me (or maybe she was embarrassed. Won’t be the last time). There was one moment of social justice where the mean girls turned on each other and one got punched right in the eye. To my credit, I didn’t laugh right in the punchee’s face, but I did take immense satisfaction in carrying out the puncher and explaining that she needed to not come back to the class.
I think part of being a parent is that your patience and tolerance ebbs and flows. Sometimes everyone is in sync and it’s beautiful. Sometimes one of you are off (like #NoBen in preschool yesterday, apparently, but that’s another story) and you just sort of accommodate. But some horrific days everyone is off at the same time and it’s the ninth circle of hell. And when you’re a geriatric mom whose hormones are in a constant flux of PMS and perimenopause (tmi I know, but the struggle is REAL), you have to figure that about 70% of the ‘unacceptable’ behavior is really just your inability to accept reality.
And it’s those days – those terrible days – that you need to bite back the mean words, force a smile, and remember how incredibly effing LUCKY you really are to have any of this in your life at all, how precious this time REALLY is, and thank your lucky stars that sometimes you DON’T get what you ‘deserve’ but what you NEED
to be the person you’re supposed to be, and are becoming just by not giving up!