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.
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.
STOP POKING THE BEAR, KIDS. STOP IT.
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.
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.