Today was tough. I’m not sure exactly what to blame it on, but artificial food dye, lack of sleep, and a sense of entitlement all played a part. The day ended with no one dead or maimed, but one mangled puppet theatre didn’t make it. Turns out a 2-year-old is heavy enough to rip panels apart. Who knew?
It wasn’t good.
At dinnertime, Mr. Genius commented that it didn’t sound that different from the partial solitude of the office. Just like any other day there was screaming (the Destroyer caught the Princess in the front door) there was whining ( he TOOK my toy!) and there was yelling (get DOWN off the table before you DIE!) I wanted desperately to say something snarky and truthful, but the little vultures were sitting there intently listening to every word. Why can’t I get them to listen like that? So I kept my mouth shut.
Today was worse. Today was normal. Today was partially my problem.
My brain knows this, but my feelings and emotions can’t quite get over it: how I feel on a given day affects how I respond to the kids. An ok day is magnified into a bad day if a migraine is threatening. A bad day is 100 times worse if they don’t want to listen. And a grumpy, irritated, annoyed mom can’t seem to get over her emotions long enough to center and grasp the peace she desperately needs.
I watched a short video about Charlottesville the night before and I went to bed with churning emotions and a sick stomach. The torchlight procession (the tiki torches would have been laughable if anyone else carried them) was profoundly disturbing – all those young faces filled with hate. It affected me. It set me off-kilter. And it made me realize why I generally avoid the news and just read it instead.
Still, I needed to watch. I needed to see what they said, how they think, and how many of them there actually were. For the sake of all decency and human kindness, I needed to watch. I paid for it.
And the next day, I was still off-kilter. The kids picked up on that, they built off of it, and they responded to it. I can’t control it because I’m not a robot, so today was just bad all around.
When we went to the optometrist to drop off the Princess’ glasses for replacement lens (she pulled a lens out and chewed on it – turns out scratch resistant lenses are no match for kid teeth) all hell broke loose. And the minute I separated the Engineer and made him sit in a chair by himself, it calmed down. The other two played fairly quietly and calmly, without the craziness and fighting. And it made me sad and mad all at the same time to realize that my oldest son is the catalyst – and to realize that I would feel relief if he was elsewhere during these errands.
I feel like a failure as a mom to admit that I cannot control my child. I asked him to calm down and listen – I asked him to make better choices, and he just rolled his eyes at me and tried to inch off the chair the moment I wasn’t watching. That 6-year-old teenager came out in spades today.
I’m not asking for sympathy or advice, I’m just chronicling that today was a bad day. I look back on the day and see points where I could have intervened and perhaps changed the focus of the day, but I realize that I am not responsible for my child’s issues. I am responsible for teaching them how to behave, for enforcing discipline, and for modeling a good example. Their mistakes are not mine – not my burden to carry. I still do – the “what ifs” drive me batty. If I had just done this or that then the kids would magically respond differently.
But I didn’t, and I can’t. It is what it is for today. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.
I feel for you. Yes. We all have them, especially when there is something upsetting that we are dealing with. It takes time to process. Sometimes we need to give ourselves some slack, regroup, rethink, and get some sleep. Then hopefully we can have a fabulous day. The other night I was thinking to myself that if I always face the next day with feelings of inadequacies or depressive thoughts like: “I am crazy, what do I think I am doing? I can’t face them again. They are kicking my behind every day. I am drowning in housework that is not getting done, I am not doing enough for my kids…” and on and on, then I will never be happy. I will be trudging through each day, dreading the next one and the next one. But the movie “Surfs Up” comes to my mind. Cody can’t learn to surf properly, until he learns to let go and have fun and relax. I think there is SO much wisdom in that. So, I am trying to let go of my negativity, focus on what I think I CAN manage to accomplish, and celebrate all the things that went right in my day. As I focus on what we ARE doing right, and baby steps for improving, I feel like I am growing and I can be calm and even cheerful. I KNOW our kids want to be around cheerful moms. We can get organized, get the kids to do some jobs around the house to help tidy up, we can go for a walk or a jog and get some much needed exercise, fresh air, and sunshine, or we can go to the park for an hour in the morning to get some wiggles out before we dive into math. I just want you to know that I really understand what you are feeling, and I hope you let yourself have the time you need to process and think about what is going on. Then, hopefully you can dive into your children’s lives and educations with both feet, knowing you want to change the world for the better, one day at a time.
Thank you for your supportive words! You’re right, sometimes we need to regroup. Tomorrow is a new day, right? That’s what I tell my kids 🙂