Treading Water

Many times I have written the honest to god truth about parenting, and this one won’t be any different. In short, it’s hard. Most of the time I feel as if it’s my lifestyle and not a job, because I chose this and I just go from hour to hour, minute to minute of living that life. The story always goes – I don’t get paid, I don’t get time off, and I don’t have a moment to think. Cliche but true.

Most of the days I’m fine. In fact, the majority of the time I really enjoy being a mother. It’s pretty neat to see your kids learn something new or go off into the world without you and come back unscathed and even better off for it.

Most of the days I look forward to our day ahead and lunches and naps and books.

Most days I have pretty interesting conversations and love showing Luca how to write words and Claire how to show her work for math problems. I love watching Mae dance and sing her songs.

But those days haven’t been around for a while, and I’m left with feeling as if I’m constantly treading water.

The kids have been a job lately, and I hate admitting that. I hate to talk about it because it makes me feel completely ungrateful and cold.

I suppose most of all, it’s frustrating when I’m constantly unheard. The days have been alright up until it’s time for bed. I swear each and every one of my kids puts a cotton ball in their ears and scream, “LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Moreover, Matt does, too.

I like order, I like control. I’ll be the first to proudly admit it that I’m a control freak. I like things a certain way. It may not be in the form of organization, trust me on that one, but I have a system.

What completely irritates me is that every night we do the same thing, yet every night, everyone conveniently forgets. While I get that Matt hasn’t been around the kids all day and likes to take his time to see the kids and talk to them and all that jazz, I’m spent. I tell him every day, “Just please, get them in bed, then you can chat away. Just let me get them into bed.” It’s almost pleading, and it’s sad. But how many different ways can you say, “Brush your teeth, brush your hair, wash your face, go pee”?

How many different ways can you say, “Rinse your plate, THEN put it in the dishwasher?”

How many different ways can you say, “No more talking, it’s time for bed,” before you sound like a complete unloving bitch of a mom?

I guess that’s what it comes down to. I’m tired of feeling like an unloving bitch of a mom.

I don’t have to sit here and explain myself. Anyone who has met my kids knows how much I love them. And while I love them dearly, I realize that loving them simply isn’t enough. They need responsibility, boundaries, discipline. I’m not their friend, nor will I ever be. I don’t want to be, and frankly, they deserve better.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my mother it is that kids will have a million friends. I’m their only mother. I will do friend-like things, such as keep secrets, or teach them about super private, personal things. I’ll share stories about my growing up and I’ll listen. But I won’t cross that line into let’s be friends. I won’t. It’s not fair to the kids.

Parenting for me is an internal struggle. I hear myself say something that I probably shouldn’t, and I tell myself that it was dumb or cruel or hurtful, but I don’t stop. When I say, “What were you thinking? Why would you think that is OK?” or “Are you kidding me? Are you seriously kidding me?” I hear it. I see my kids’ faces changing into a sad combination of “Oh shit” and “Why does she yell” all at the same time. Then, after it’s all over and I calm down (because obviously you see I have a short fuse) I hug them and apologize.

Now here’s the issue that I constantly battle in my head. Should I be more patient or is it good that my kids see me flip out and hear me apologize?

Please don’t paint  picture of me constantly yelling, even though some days I feel like that’s all I’ve done. Keeping four kids in line is a lot of work, and it’s mostly with verbal cues. I’m constantly telling them what to do and how to behave and explaining why something wasn’t a very smart thing to do. I don’t spank, hit, or do anything physical to them. (However, I will smack a hand out of the way of danger or park their butts at an alarming speed in the timeout chair.) So I rely completely on their listening abilities.

Which right now, for the past few months have been awful.

So awful.

Just today, for example, as we were leaving the library, I told the kids not to hit the handicap button for the doors. There were two sets of doors and all three hit the first one like a mad dash, and as I was saying, “DON’T YOU DARE HIT THE NEXT ONE,” Luca did.

I was over it. I parked his butt on the bench outside the library in time out and put the girls in the car and made him sit there. People walked in and out and he had to watch them. While he sat on his hands.

The girls got a mighty nice talking to in the car, and we drove home in silence.

While I know to most, that seems like such a minor offense, trust me, it was like if someone was poking at you with a stick over and over and then all of a sudden the stick snapped, but they didn’t stop poking.


So I’ve entered into the phase of every little thing is making me lose my ever loving shit. When 7:45 rolls around and the kids are supposed to be getting ready for bed, and Matt’s only been home for 45 minutes, and I’m all, ‘LET’S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD, GUYS! MAMA’S DONE!” and they’re NOT, I’m done. Matt kind of looks at me sympathetically and then gives the kids the face that says, “I know she’s crazy, but you’re not doing a good job of keeping her sane,” and he starts to take over.

But guys, Matt’s slow. He’ll admit it. And it’s so painful. I can get the kids ready for bed, and tucked in in under 10 minutes. For Matt it can take upwards of 30 minutes. I have no idea why. I go to take a shower (because most nights I teach at night and sit through dinner a sweaty, stinky mess,) and when I get out of the shower, they’re all still in the bathroom doing god knows what.

I see Matt’s side to the story. He wants to see the kids. He hardly sees the kids. And I’m fine with that, but JUST GET THEIR BUTTS IN BED then say good night. Or read a book. Or dance or whatever it is he does. When there’s this constant chaos I want to rip my hair out of my head and parade around the cul de sac in my underwear.

Can you tell I’ve lost it?

It’s that constant noise. That constant chatter or buzz or whatever it is that’s always in the air. It’s getting to me.

Another example: every day Luca (and now Claire because she’s out of school) have quiet time. From the hours of 1-3, it is to be quiet and I get my free time to read, write, lay, pass out, whathaveyou. But EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Luca and Claire will come down multiple times to show me something or ask me something or they need a snack. Mind you, they are in their own rooms, so when they come down it’s one at a time, multiple times and I’m left looking like a meanie when I say, “Get your butt back up into your room.” I’ve been nice about it and I’ve been patient. I’ve explained it. It’s like trying to tell the tree outside to stop growing. Or the birds to stop chirping. I’m completely unheard. And when I get mean about it and firm and say, “No, it’s quiet time, you know the rules, show me later,” they look at me with those faces. You know the ones I’m talking about – and they sulk back upstairs like I’m so mean.

Maybe I am.

I’m ranting.

But I know I’m not alone. I can’t be.

I expect a three year old and a 16 month old to have zero listening skills. I expect them to be annoying and I’m prepared for that. But when a six year old and a five year old constantly do their own things and don’t hear me, I get upset. Perhaps I have the bar set too high on expectations, but is it really asking too much to be heard and respected?

I didn’t think so, either.

So now that it’s summer, the kids are back on chores and discipline central. Sorry, not sorry. Things are going to be turning around real quick.

Rant, over.

About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on June 10, 2014, in Cassie. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Two pieces of assvice (feel free to delete):
    1. Maybe, for Luca and Claire, make “quiet time” not so long? At their ages two hours is an eternity. I mean, I know, it’s YOUR time, not really their quiet time, but maybe try to give them just an hour and a visual cue (a digital clock, a green light) in their rooms.
    2. Let Matt do bedtime. Go downstairs, outside, whatever. I have this issue with Dan sometimes, too: He wants to see the kids, I want them to go to bed. We’re trying to get more on the same page on this. I’m not even home alone with them all day, and it drives me bonkers some nights. (Some nights, I take my Kindle, go in my room, and shut the door.)

    And the not listening/having to repeat everything: I have no antidote to that. My older two are 9 and 7, and there are still issues. That and the “I will present my argument.” I’m like, “no, this isn’t a negotiation.”

    Good luck, sister. Parenting is exhausting! It’ll get better!

    • Oh I’m sure the time is too long. It’s just the way it’s always been. They break it up between the innotab and Legos and usually it’s never an issue. But lately it’s been so annoying. So annoying. Or maybe I’m more easily annoyed.


  2. I’ll only weigh in on one subject, and that’s to back you up. The one thing you cannot have is open defiance. So when you say not to do something, (no matter how trivial) and they do it immediately, there has to be consequences. Every time.

    Your kids have it easy. If I ever pulled what your kids pulled with the door button, my dad would have rolled my little head on the floor. And I knew that at a very young age, too. Your kids are bright… they’ll get the message. You just have to be more stubborn than they are.

    Signed, Another Childless Douche

  3. I’m also childless, but I’ve been a nanny off and on long enough to sympathize. I’m a lot like you in that I would set rules/boundaries and expect them to be followed (I say don’t hit the handicap button, so don’t hit the handicap button), then when the line would be crossed I would feel like I wanted to scream. I mean it’s never just the handicap button, right? It’s all the other times they didn’t listen leading up to now, which has tripped the avalanche of frustration coming out about this handicap button at this moment in time. Just breathe. 🙂 You are not 100% invincible super-mom, you’re still human. It’s normal to be frustrated and overwhelmed and fed up! Sometimes it’s okay to pick some battles and leave others for when you’re calmer. Sometimes it’s okay to blow up and let them know mommy means business, too! You love them, you want what’s best for them – and they know it!

  4. I can sympathize with this 100%. I feel like such a mean mom when I lose patience and shout or take a tone that’s a little too mean (I made Norah cry earlier this week when I was yelling at Sarah because she bit my finger). And heck yes I would have exacted punishment over the button pushing. Kids love to see how far they can get away with things and it’s our thankless and exhausting job to make sure they know the boundaries. We have to have quiet time to save our sanity though. I know it’s tough and it’s impossible right now, but admitting that doesn’t make you a mean or bad person – it makes you normal! So rant on sister!

  5. this was me TO.THE.TEE 15 or so years ago. my kids are now 24 and 21 and very respectful and hard working. keep up the discipline. not enough kids get it. i promise it will pay off.

  6. Discipline is very important, and you do a terrific job of marshaling the troops.

    I don’t think this is the issue. It sounds like you need a vacation, like a mom’s retreat weekend. Just to start over and recharge. Not a family vacation, because those are so not relaxing.

    And maybe you just need a day, just a day alone. I wish Jess and I were closer, I’m sure we could divide four littles among us so you could have peace for a day.

    I truly wish that was a possibility sometimes. peace. for. a DAY.

    It’s one of the reasons I enjoy scrapbooking. I make a cute baby book, recording Alyssa’s story, and I do it sans child. It’s fantastic. I’ll be praying that you get some peace soon.

  7. I am sorry you went through such a hard time (or perhaps it is still so tough? Haven’t read the newest post yet …) It sounds exhausting to me. To be honest, I am still on the fence about having kids, and one huge point for me is the fact that you have to be there ALL THE TIME, and I SO need time for myself, I can’t function if I don’t get at least half an hour when I need it.
    Maybe I am crossing a line here (and I am sorry if I do) but to me it sounds like you need more time to yourself (like, all alone) on a regular basis? And perhaps a weekend away without kids? It’s probably not a possibility, and you have probably thought about that already months ago, but in my case at least sometimes it helps to see if sth. might be a solution when other people suggest something, even if I have already thought about it myself and discarded it.
    What I can absolutely understand is the frustration that comes when you say something and ask for something and even plead for something and people don’t listen or don’t really understand or are simply not able to do so. In my case it’s adults. And it sucks to either be the nagging, whingeing one or to tolerate an unbearable situation.
    Hope it gets better (or already is) and in the meantime, rant away whenever you feel like it!

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