You know when you are young it is common (at least for girls) to imagine how your life will turn out. You start with imagining a perfect wedding to a perfect man and then soon enough you have children who are all, of course, perfect. In fact, it gets to the point that when we are out and about we seem to notice the parents we aren’t going to be and the type of children we aren’t going to have; you know, it is the parents with children who are running and yelling up and down the halls of a library. You’d never be the mothers who are running after them, frantic, frazzled, furious, and slightly over-weight and out of style. The mother who when she catches her “out of control” children becomes somewhat hysterical. In your mind you are thinking two things. The first is, ‘oh come on lady, they are just kids acting their age…’ and the second is, ‘I will never have children that are that misbehaved; and I will never act or look like that!’ Well my friend you just signed your life away with those two judgments!!! Goodbye fairy-tale life, Hello reality!
I have had a LONG day. It has been one of those days where I am sure motherhood is totally over-rated (for the record; it isn’t – it is just hard and no one has ever lied about that). This morning I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go to the gym because Adam and Grace had dentist appointments, so I got up around 6:30 and went running. It was hard (I am still really out of shape), but so enjoyable and peaceful. Basically my peace ended when I walked through the door at the end of the run. Of course Adam was one notch below panic mode because his one true love (me) was missing. Scott was reassuring him that I would come home. He was pretty relieved to see me; seriously dude, like I would just take off. We ate breakfast and I went to shower. After getting everyone ready I sent Lily off to school and the three other kids and I went to see Dr. Jason. I think you all know where I might be going with this; after all, most of you are familiar with Grace…Needless to say, it could have gone better; a lot better. When you have to leave your baby in the office (trusting total strangers, I might add) so that you can run out and catch your other two who have just walked onto an elevator you can pretty much tell that the experience isn’t going well. Or when you finally get them back in the office and they start grabbing for every toy in the prize box and refuse to settle on just one each and you end up leaving with both of them screaming and crying then you know you have hit the jackpot on bad outings. I am pretty sure the whole office all cheered when we left. The sad thing is, that wasn’t an unusual experience. It happens everywhere I go (except church because I have Scott there to help and it is a more familiar place for the kids).
So from there my day just kept getting worse. We needed to stop at the grocery store and of course Grace cried and screamed the entire time over who knows what – I think I have blocked it out of my memory and it was only 10:30 this morning. Davie was sort of at the end of his rope, which is understandable since I had been basically ignoring him all morning and all Adam could talk about is how he wanted some gummy worms! AHHHHHHH. We got through it and amazingly enough I was still smiling…
Then this afternoon just topped off the whole day! I had a PTA thing at the school that I wanted to go to and because I always see all the other parents there with their children I naively decided that maybe I could to. After all I couldn’t possibly be the only person around with monkeys disguised as children. Or am I? Plus I am really tired of ALWAYS asking my neighbors for help with watching my kids. I feel like the biggest mooch ever and I HATE it! So I decided to brave to PTA thing with all three of them (and really, how stupid am I – I just went through that whole day and I really thought it would turn out okay at the school!?). Well I won’t go into details; let’s just say that I have, in fact, turned into that mother that I was describing above. Except instead of running through a library screaming, mine where running up and down the halls of school in session screaming. I kid you not! They were out of control! At one point they were sitting on the floor of a doorway and a mom needed to get by and said, “Excuse me.” Instead of moving like polite children or even children who are nervous around other adults (like I was at that age) Adam just looked up and laughed at her, WITHOUT moving! I lost it! I told him that that is no way to treat anyone, but especially a grown-up who has asked politely for you to move. His eyes were completely glossed over and I could tell none of this was registering. Basically it just went drastically downhill from there. All the while all the other children that were there with their parents somehow seem to know how to stay close to their mothers, speak with an inside voice, say kind things to strangers, etc, etc, etc… and in the meantime I am getting those looks from all the people thinking the thought I expressed earlier. Thoughts like, ‘Maybe if she would try disciplining them then they wouldn’t be such terrors’ or ‘Wow, maybe she could get control of those children’ or ‘what monsters!’ or ‘Holy Cow, has she heard of a salad?’
Basically the bottom line is that I am that mother from above. The one that everyone stares at constantly and casts judgments upon. The one that no one thinks is quite adequate for parenthood. And the saddest part about it is that I actually wasn’t one of those people that looked at parents with a judgmental eye. I have always figured some people could do better, but for the most part, most people are just doing their best. So HOW DID I END UP WITH FOUR VERY RAMBUXIOS, HIGH-SPIRITED, INDEPENDENT, AND STUBBORN CHILDREN??????? I was such a nice child and I try to be pretty nice to people around me. I am energetic and a bit loud, but does that mean I deserve children who will not listen to a thing I say? I am beginning to think that maybe I am failing as a parent. I try to be patient (and actually I am pretty good at it, except for the PTA meeting) and consistent with discipline. I am usually happy and cheerful with them. I try and teach them responsibility by giving them chores and teaching them how to do them. I let them play freely without micromanaging them. I limit their TV time and they have never even been on the computer. I read to them almost nightly and make really good meals for them that are basically healthy. They go to the doctor and dentist when they need to and our house is usually pretty clean. I have tried to set a good example about body image and keeping our bodies healthy and active. We talk about manners and how to treat others. We sing and dance and play and talk, a lot! What am I missing? Why can’t my five year old behave in a public place or any place? Why does my three year feel the need to run away from me or throw a HUGE temper tantrum every time we go anywhere? It seems that no matter how many times I have our little “pep-talks” in the car as we are about to get out and enter the public eye it isn’t enough – they still just do what they want. And no matter how angry I get with them they just don’t seem to care. Maybe that is the hardest part for me; when my parents got mad at me as child I remember just feeling agony. My insides would just turn and turn and I would feel terrible. I hated it when they were angry or disappointed. But my kids just don’t seem to care. In fact I will be talking to them about something and not only will not listen or even really focus on me they will basically start to laugh at me. My goal in life isn’t to make them sad, but laughing at me when I am trying to be patient in disciplining them is not a great response. And then there is that part of me that doesn’t want to squash that happy little spirit in them, so then I feel guilty about ever losing my temper with them. But they need discipline and structure.
So as you can see, it has not been a totally awesome day. I feel like a failure. Like I am doing something drastically wrong. And on top of it all I cannot seem to lose these last ten pounds (I have never had this hard of a time before). I would love to take them more places and be more involved at the school, but it is impossible – they make it impossible. You may be thinking that maybe they act like this because I am so high-strung, but I don’t that is it. I have told myself hundreds of times to just mellow out, go with the flow and let them be children. They don’t act any calmer when I am calmer. If anything they seize the opportunity to really wreak havoc. So maybe I am seeking advice; although I am not sure any of it will help. None of you are here and see the dynamic of my hellions…uh…children. But if you do have some mind-blowing, life-changing, amazing advice I guess I wouldn’t be oppose to hearing it. Because as we stand I am ready to find an Indian Reservation and sell them to the Indians (my parents used to tell us that they would sell us to the Indians if we didn’t start behaving – at one point I actually though it sounded like a lot of fun; after all they eat fry bread and dance a lot. How could that be bad? As a sidenote, I mean to not disrespect Native Americans at all, it was just a saying we had growing up in Arizona where there are a lot of reservations).
Let me express one last thought…I actually do love my children tremendously. I love so many things about them. Mostly I love that they are interesting people who keep my life fun. I would not trade them for anything (so to any Indians out there, you can put your checkbooks away). They are funny, happy, silly, and smart little kids. BUT I am having a really hard time feeling like I am stuck here at home with them all day everyday because I can’t take them anywhere without being completely humiliated. I tired of paying babysitters and mooching off friends for help so that I can go and do simple things that I should be able to do with them. I guess that is why I decided to do today the way I did. I figured that at some point I am just going to need to get used to packing them ALL around with me everywhere I go. It just all went so badly and I am always holding out such hope that they will surprise me and behave the way I have taught them. I am tired of being disappointed. Motherhood is great if you like being lonely. That is how I feel a lot – lonely and tired. As for what happened after the school affair – I sent Adam and Grace to their rooms until dinner. Grace will no doubt fall asleep and Adam asks every two minutes if it dinner time yet. Maybe I should let him out before he gets to bored and decides to destroy something in his room. Hundred bucks says that I will go down to let him out and something will be destroyed out of innocent boredom. And so it starts again…
I guess I should reconcile the fact that life as I imagined is just that; imagined. This is reality, these are my darling and somewhat naughty children and no amount of dreaming was ever going to change that…we all must have made some kind of crazy deal before we came here. I must have really liked them then and they must have really liked me. So here we are, in reality!