I’m not usually a whiner. But I’m going to whine now. I’ve had the kind of day that makes you wonder if it’s possible to measure the infinite distance between your virtual self and who you really are. Online I look pretty good, but today that’s an illusion. I was a crap parent, okay? I started the day by picking a whopper of a fight w. my husband, and ended it with a Mommy melt-down of Biblical proportions in the evening, replete with a crying six-year-old, and a boat-load of Bad Mommy guilt.
It’s the buildup over time of the small, seemingly inconsequential things like saying no, then dealing with the aftermath, then feeling unappreciated, that make me lose it totally. These small things build up one by one throughout a day or a week and then blammo – I lose it, like I did tonight.
So what happened?
After school I stupidly took them for an I-Like-It sized marshmallow-cotton-candy-flavored ice cream with sprinkles on it, which every parent knows is really just crack for kids. Then we went to the toy store “just to browse.”(I know, I know, I was asking for it.) So of course Ella threw a wobbly when I told her we couldn’t buy the miniature toy wombat, and Fi kept repeating, “Can I have five dollars?” as if it was a mantra or something. I didn’t lose it then, but we fled the store and it all went to shit from there.
A Useful Parenting Hypothesis:
If A = Amt. of Junk Food, and B= Bad Shopping Experience at Store, and C = Incessant Whining, then it follows that:
A + B + C = IHM (INEVITABLE HUMUNGOUS MELTDOWN)
Fast-forward to bedtime. The kids were giggling and snarfling like hyenas, because they were still high on cotton-candy-marshmallow flavoring. They refused to get out of the shower unless I let them watch the rest of the Wild Kratts, which they said I had promised. I don’t think they noticed the Mommie Dearest look in my eyes, or that I was on the verge of using the Scary Mommy voice, and was growing horns. I took a deep breath and ordered them out of the shower with my lame-o, “I’m going to count to three!” threat (although to my credit, we’ve never gotten to 3 – thank goodness, because I have no idea what I would do if we ever did get to 3).
They got out but continued the hyenas-on-crack stuff. I was trying to get Ella’s wet feet into her Dora the Explorer underpants that are too small because they are a size 5, and simultaneously lecturing them about what a Good Mother I am, a fun mother, one who takes them for ice cream…but all they could remember was that I didn’t buy them a toy wombat.
That’s when Ella said, “You could always go back to California, Mommy. Then Daddy could buy us the wombat.”
If there was a video camera in that bathroom without sound like convenience stores have to monitor criminal activity, you would have seen me stop yanking at the now-wet Dora underpants, stand, and pitch those undies on the floor so hard that if they had been made of anything but 100% cotton, watch out! This got their attention, and the giggling stopped. Aware that my momtrum (mommy+tantrum, get it?) made me look ridiculous, I became infuriated and stomped out of the bathroom to get a pair of dry underpants. You heard me – I stomped. Like a four-year-old, oh yes I did.
Stomping down the hall I wondered if I am just a very bad mother. I was really good at the baby and toddler phase, but now that the fast-forward button has been pressed and we all seem to have been transported to the next phase, the one without any babies in it, the one that comes with opinionated, occasionally snarky individuals, I’m not so sure I’m suited-up enough to handle it. It’s easy to be lovey-dovey with infants and toddlers who think that sunbeams shoot perpetually out of your ass; it’s not as easy to parent them when they start voicing their own opinions, and hurling zingers at you when you are vulnerable. When they realize that there aren’t any sunbeams shooting out of your ass, after all.
I would like to say that I got a grip after that and on the crime scene video you’d see that we all lived happily ever after, but the truth is that I was too tired and too emotionally pureed to resurrect myself much at that point. I got them into their PJs, goose-stepped them to bed, hugged them too hard like my mom used to do with me whenever she felt guilty about something, and said good night.
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