Today, I lost my shit.
Today, I spoke harshly to the kids.
Today, I wanted nothing more than to hide in my room.
Today, I lost my shit.
Let’s just say that today was NOT the easiest day.
I’d like to say that today is a complete exception. That it never happens. And that I have valid reasons that make it okay for me to lose my shit with my kids.
After all, they started it.
But there really are no excuses.
I’m 38 years old. My daughter is almost 7 and my son is almost 5. If I add their ages up and multiply it by three, their total age would still be younger than me.
I know, I’m shocked too that I can do the math.
Yet, I still find that they can press my buttons faster than anyone else I know. It’s like they conspire ways to do it when I am not looking. I can almost imagine them giggling behind their hands saying, “Oh, shit that will really fuck her up.”
Not that they curse just yet. But they can be evil like that so I am not going to put it past them.
When I have days like this, I like to think to myself that I can recalibrate. And I do. For a while I see the sunshine and the smiles and appreciate their cherubic little faces and the cute things they say. Life is good, which is further reiterated by the fact that nobody is crying or yelling or kicking.
I love those moments. And when I have them, I know I am truly blessed.
When I am in the bathroom, trying to find peace for all of two minutes and they find a way to get into an epic fight about Legos or crayons or I don’t know, AIR, I feel slightly less blessed. Slightly. Especially when the howling ensues and the “Mommy!” followed by the always soothing “MOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYY!” shrilly cuts through the air.
Those moments when my pants are around my legs and I want to collapse (but not particularly on the toilet), I realize how hard this whole parenting gig is.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still recommend parenting. I just wish I had known more what being a parent meant. I wished I had remembered more about what being a kid was like. Because somewhere, the vision that I had of us frolicking in fields together and maybe singing the famous Coke song together has not really come to fruition.
I’ll tell you what has been a reality:
1) My kids can time a monumental tantrum to coincide with an important moment in my life with the precision of a NASA scientist. They are just THAT good at it.
2) They will love something I made for them one day and then look at it like I served them Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle poop the next day. And they will let me know it.
3) They can find something to cry about even if the sun is shining and M&Ms are falling from the sky in a beautiful rainfall. They will cry that the M&Ms are the wrong color.
4) If we are at an event and I am making an attempt to be semi-social, they will attach themselves to my thighs like octopus. I have even had them try to lift my skirt up to hide under that, which was not at all embarrassing. I mean, everyone has a butt, right?
5) Oh, they like to say “butt” a lot. LOUDLY.
6) They will find ways to announce that they have to poop while we are out, even if we asked them to go before we left the house and the only option is a ramshackle old Port a Potty that looks like it’s from the early 2000s.
7) Then they will complain that it’s stinky and gross while you try to hold them so their tender haunches aren’t compromised by the potty, because it’s well, “sgusting.”
8) They will cry if my band aids are not character themed. Apparently, I am bad at re-stocking on Disney band-aids because this is often a point of contention in my house.
9) I think they cry sometimes to see if it will make me cry.
Sometimes, it works.
So yeah, hard day, yada yada, you get the point.
I think what makes it harder is that I know I lost my cool. I was never supposed to be the mother who yelled at her kids. But now, I find that there are days where I am gruff and impatient and far from the mother I thought I would be. I am a hardened, bitter version of her instead. And well, that kind of sucks.
Do you want to know what I finally lost it over? After continually picking fights with her 5 year old brother, Nico, all evening, my 7 year old, Shaila, decided to throw one last fit. I don’t remember what it was about so let’s just pretend they were debating current scientific research on global warming, because that at least makes me feel like it was a worthwhile discussion. Anyway, after not honoring the sanctity of my two minute toilet time, she decided that she would start screaming again.
And God, it was just soooooo loud.
And so I lost it. And I screamed.
“WILL YOU JUST STOP IT?!!! I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. ENOUGH, SHAILA!”
I think my eyes were going to pop out of my head. I looked like I had crazy eyes. Like Steve Buscemi eyes.
That must have been scary for her.
I quickly recovered, but the damage was done. Oh, she was fine. She shed a tear and was on to something else within minutes, but I felt like crap and a failure, because in that moment, I was. I had failed her.
When I was a kid, my mother used to lose her patience with me. A lot. I remember being scared and I was always nervous, because I didn’t know when she would lose her temper.
Granted, if I acted like my kids, my mother would have smacked me upside the head. But still, knowing that I am capable of losing my cool like that isn’t something I’m proud of.
This parenting gig isn’t going anywhere for me though. I’m in it for the long haul. And I can ruminate over what I did wrong or I can work on making sure that next time I get it right. This is not a sprint – it’s a marathon. And there are going to be days where I feel like I am running in slow motion and standing in the same place. If I keep making the same mistakes again and again and again, I may as well be running to stand still, as Bono put it. Or I can learn from my mistake and keep on putting one foot in front of the other. The reality is we still have a hell of a long way to go and while no marathon is easy, I want my children to enjoy the view.
Even if sometimes that means, I can’t.
But mostly, I think that we will find our stride and enjoy that view together.