Explicit, explicit, explicit: my kids got up Saturday morning at 6:00AM. “Go to sleep, go back to bed!” I ordered. I wish I had another response. My bitterness and resentment hatched a few days ago when I realized that my son’s soccer game was at 9:00AM-right in the middle of my workout time. I’m pissed because I have to miss my favorite workout of the week-the time when I get to workout as a student, annoyed that I can’t do what I want. And now they’re up early buzzing around me like flies, and I can’t even type a sentence without being interrupted. I can do this, just one more cup of coffee, please.
Their cheeks are still round with baby fat, and their eyes are soft and too large for their faces; (This feature of youth, designed by nature, is appealing, thereby increasing our willingness to care for the young.) and it’s working, my children need me. I want to be there for them. I’m making the decision to change my attitude. I’m going into my day with openness for what’s to come.
A few hours later… I did okay for while. I enjoyed myself at the soccer game; the sun was bright, with fall excitement in the air. I worked out at home after the game while the kids sat in front of the babysitter-the television. Next we walked to town to get my son’s haircut. The wind no longer light, became bothersome, cutting through my jeans as the kids started complaining. “I’m cold.” And “I hate walking. Why do we have to walk everywhere?” The energy they have never dies, nor does it need recharging-they’re always on unless they’re asleep. I walk them as much as possible in attempts to drain their batteries. Maybe I’m just draining my own.
I’m back to feeling frustrated again. There’s shit under their beds and their clothes are in disarray. There are shorts crammed into drawers with pants and socks, and books with underwear, and pieces of plastic parts made in China. We have a book report looming over us like a jail sentence and other weekend homework to review. I just flipped through their binders, feeling my heart rate increase and blood thicken.
My back is killing me from the monthly side effect of being a woman, good times. Sophie is screaming from her room, “Mom, I don’t know how to get the things out from under my dresser. I don’t have any room for all this stuff.” As I just sit here and type. This is who I am. How can I change my attitude? “Both of you go outside, I’ll be out in a minute.” On their way out the door my son says, “When are we going to Richards Variety store?” I said, “Go outside. I’ll be there in a minute.” I grab a beer. I should’ve said a prayer, and made lunch instead.
Has a minute gone by? I’m starting over. I can do this. It’s fine for me to feel overwhelmed by Motherhood. In my opinion, it’s the hardest job in the world, and I signed up for the benefits-unconditional love. I have to remind myself: the benefits outweigh the workload. Like on the show, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” I decide to phone a friend, and text another, a lifeline for me is an empathetic voice. I need them for “Who Wants To Be A Sane Mom,” status. The kids found something outside to occupy their time. I hear their voices, “No, I said I was riding the scooter.” And the fighting begins. Help!
My daughter comes flying in through the kitchen door to tattle on her brother. I’m standing at my computer, “Mommy!” She says as she comes up behind me gripping each one of my butt cheeks in her hands, digging her tiny little claws into my flesh.” I jump forward and yelp, “Ouch!” She giggles hysterically, and says, “I can’t help it your butt is so cute and pinchable.” The exact words I’ve spoken to her in the past, as I’ve grabbed her little hiney. She leaves me standing there and goes to her room. I’m hungry but it isn’t registering as anything other than fatigue and discomfort. It’s now 3:00PM and we haven’t had lunch. Susan is supposed to meet us at the house. I text her and let her know we are going to the store. She says, “I’ll be over in 20 minutes, wait for me.” (A plus about having a girlfriend, she likes to shop.) We wait for her. The kids are beyond thrilled that she’s going with us. I call out the back door, “We’re not leaving for a while. Susan’s going with us.” They jumped and shouted from the yard, “Yeah! Susan’s coming! Susan’s coming! When will she be here?”
By the time she gets here Miles is starving, and I’m losing my ability to make decisions due to low blood sugar. We make our way to the store and go our separate ways. I, to the art supply section, the kids to the toy aisle, while Susan goes to read the cards. She walks up to ask me a question. I snip. She calls me out. I apologize and wonder why I feel so poorly. I tell her, “I can’t think right now. Can you please decide where we should eat? I forgot to make lunch and we haven’t eaten in hours. I saw the kids eating chips and salsa, and fruit while I was working out but they haven’t had any protein.” (Kids don’t stay full without it for long.)
She picks out a nearby belly-filler. The kids are complaining about their hunger pangs. I’m panting with anxiety. We bypass the outside host for a table indoors. I immediately ask the waiter for bread. The kids consume two rolls each, slathered “Southern style,” with butter. Susan’s just there to keep us company. She had plans to meet up with a group for a friend’s birthday. I was invited but declined, knowing I’d have the kids. I didn’t think to ask Susan if it was important for her to have me there. In retrospect, this was my second mistake of the day.
Miles is now angry because the restaurant doesn’t have quesadillas on the menu; his attitude raises the hairs on my neck. He pouts and says, “I’m not getting anything.” when the waiter comes by. Being the controlling mom I am, I order him a sandwich, fries, and fruit. My interference with his appetite makes him angrier. He fights back the tears after I threaten him, “Go in the bathroom in you’re going to cry.” Out of spite, and the bread now circulating through his blood stream, he shakes it off. He devours the plate of food when brought, plus some of my soup. After our meal, we all come back to life and I start feeling like myself again.
In the car, the kids are rambunctious from the cinnamon sugar-butter high, as we drive to drop Susan off at another restaurant. I’m playing out all these scenarios in my head as to what she might be thinking: she’s relieved to be getting away from us, or, she’s resentful of them because I can’t go the party with her, and so on, and so on. I break my own tension by saying to her, “I’m glad you have something fun to do tonight. I don’t think I would be that enjoyable to be around.” She just laughed.
We left her to an evening with her friends as we drove away, one of the kids said, “Awe, I wish we could go on another adventure with Susan” and then one of them hit the other. I yelled, “I’m over it, stop fighting. You guys are pushing me today and I’m done.” They settled down until something happened and someone said, “I think that’s going to make mom even more mad. Final, Fudging Lee, they’re catching on to my mood.
Once home, I park the car, turn off the engine and just sit. I inhale deeply through my nose, and exhale loudly through my mouth. I let my shoulders drop and neck relax. I ask the kids to go inside and take their baths. It’s only 6:30PM, but I’m ready to get in the bed. I climb the stairs, the kids trailing behind, bickering about a soccer ball. I usher them in the house, lock the door behind us, and say to them, “We are in for the night.”
I put on my nightgown, and remind them to wash their hair and brush their teeth. At 7:00PM we gather together on the sofa under a fuzzy blanket to watch America’s Funniest Home Video’s, our version of a family show. I’ve got a kindhearted boy on my right, with crossed, long limbs and a contagious laugh; and a precious little girl on my left, with her wet head in my lap, and her fanny in the air. We made it through our day and all is forgiven. I tell them, “I’m sorry I was cranky today. I’ll try again tomorrow.”
That’s what parenting is for me, a new day, another chance to get it right. It challenges my emotional, and physical being, my shortage of patience; it tests my brain, and who I am as a person in general. Parenting is the biggest responsibility I’ve ever taken on, and it pushes me to understand myself in ways I couldn’t always see. The moments when a neighbor tells me, “You have the most well mannered, confident, children I’ve ever known,” and when my children snuggle in tight next to me is what makes my efforts feel worth while. Their actions remind me of the impact they have on the world, and I’m apart of that; and it’s something bigger than me.
I will continue to interrupt my negativity that prevents me from enjoying my role as a parent, if only in retrospect. However, I can learn from my past experiences on how to improve my future- if I’m mindful enough to remember to change my thinking. It’s really only a thought away.
What I learned from this past weekend is this: I shouldn’t skip meals while the kids are around, and I definitely shouldn’t let them just snack as opposed to having a real meal. In addition, I need to practice being more considerate of Susan’s feelings when I have the kids, even if her feelings sometimes include me having to hire a sitter. I’m still not sure what to do about missing my Saturday workouts due to Soccer games, other than to know that, “They too shall pass.”
Eventually, everything, and everyone passes, and it’s up to me to figure out my part. So here I am, still doing what I do, trying to figure it all out. And trust me, when and if I do, I’ll let you know, and I hope you’ll do the same for me.