I am in the midst of one of those Worst Mommy Ever months. Hubby has been busy with late meetings and travel, so it’s just been me and the boys. I feel like a Military Wife, and lord knows I was NOT cut out for that. The Military Wife is a special breed. I am a Husband Comes Home Every Night kind of wife. Even though he works late a lot and I end up doing the dinner/homework/bath/bedtime fight (known as the Witching Hour) by myself most nights, it’s nice to know he’s coming home.
For the past three weeks, I have been doing the Single Parent thing. There are some advantages – I can eat cereal for dinner, there’s 1/5 less laundry to do, and I don’t have to watch any sports. But that’s about it. It’s tough to go through the day knowing that reinforcements are not coming. I feel like I’ve been left behind in the battlefield, bleeding and clinging to life. Except instead of blood there’s just a lot of bodily secretions, and instead of shrapnel I keep finding soggy cheerios stuck to my shirt.
The worst of it was last Friday. The boys are generally pretty tired by the time Friday arrives, which means that behavior gets worse and the mood around the house can best be described as tempestuous. I, however, look forward to Happy Hour with my neighbor, a working mom who calls me on her way home so I can get the mommy juice chilled so we can go to our happy place. The kids burn some energy outside while we sip a glass of wine on the front step. The weather was nice and many neighborhood kids were out, so we made our way down the street to socialize.
Except Medium had other ideas. All the kids were playing together nicely, and then WE stumbled onto the scene and made our presence known. Medium is zero to 60, and sometimes if things don’t go his way, he goes straight into tantrum mode with little to no warning. He lost it. There was kicking. There was screaming. There was talking back. And somehow I have bruises on my legs from a certain Razor Scooter. This all happened in front of the neighbors; I was mor-ti-fied.
When I see other mommies trying to deal with a challenging child, I always think to myself that I know how she feels because girlfriend, I have been there! But when it happens to me, I feel like I am the worst mommy ever. I can’t “control” my child and every Judgy McJudgerson is looking down her nose at me. I realize this probably isn’t the case, but that’s how it FEELS.
I feel like I mention Medium a lot in my blog because when it comes to discipline and behavior, he is my most challenging child. I worry that I have created this situation because he is the middle child. I try so hard not to compare him to Large because they are two very different children and they have very different strengths. I CAN'T treat them the same way. I can tell Large something once, and for the most part, he listens. Medium needs to look me in the eye and repeat back what I’ve asked him to do or else I know it hasn’t registered.
|"Here kids, watch the Electronic Babysitter|
while Mommy "cleans the oven."
The funny thing is, after I wrote the blog where I mentioned Alpha Mom, one of my sisters-in-law said that she considers ME to be an Alpha Mom. It would appear that I, myself, am a Judgy McJudgerson. My personal feeling is that when one has a child who has peed in the trashcan NEXT to the toilet, presumably for target practice, one is automatically precluded from being an Alpha Mom, but I suppose it’s all about perception. I think that I am guilty of perpetuating the idea that I have it all together. (or perhaps NOT.)
The truth is, EVERY day is a struggle. I feel like a failure more often than not because my children are not perfect. They misbehave and throw temper tantrums (on the way to the bus stop at 7 in the morning) and don’t always use their manners. It is MY responsibility to teach them how to navigate through life and when they aren’t perfect I feel like it’s a reflection of me and my failure as a parent. Intellectually I know I am not alone in feeling this way, and yet it’s very isolating on an emotional level.
Being a mother is such a precarious job because so much of it is dependent on how your charges behave. Exhibit A: On Friday, we already had plans to go to Bingo at school. Ideally, I could have stayed home with Jack as a consequence of his tantrum and Hubby could have taken Large to Bingo. With Hubby out of town, I had to decide whether or not I wanted to stay home and punish Large by not taking him to Bingo, even though he hadn’t done anything wrong, or risk "rewarding" Medium's behavior. I actually overheard Large coaching Medium, who was refusing to go to his room, “Mommy’s really mad. Now go tell her you’re sorry and go to your room so we can go to Bingo!” After everyone had calmed down, we had a little chat about Mommy’s expectations. It should be noted that Medium had a tantrum last year when he didn’t win Bingo because at 4-years-old, he didn’t understand his odds. Which is why we don’t take him to Vegas.
So we went to Bingo after I explained that if ANYone had a tantrum, we were sooooo leaving. My expectations for an evening of family fun were a tad too high, however. Even though I had prepaid for our Bingo extravaganza, I had forgotten to pay in advance for dinner. I only had $6, and Visa was NOT everywhere I wanted it to be because the PTA does not take credit cards. I could only afford 2 slices of pizza and 2 drinks, which meant that I didn’t get to eat, and that makes for a cranky, hungry Mommy. The cafeteria was crowded and loud, so it was hard to hear what numbers were being called, and Small was fussy so I had to hold him. I had hoped that he would sit quietly in his stroller and entertain himself by watching all the people. (Totally overestimated how fascinating my fellow parents would be to an 8-month-old.) I was holding the baby while trying to play Bingo and prevent my children from painting themselves with the Bingo daubers, all the while listening to Medium repeat, “do I have it? Did they call my number? Mom? Mom? Mom! Do I have it? Mom!”
There is not enough wine in the world to calm my nerves and stop my armpits from being all persweaty that night. I hope Hubby forgives me for telling him “I’m hating you right now” when he called home from outside a bar later that night. When he gets home on Friday, I might just have to escape for a while. Don’t be surprised if you see me in the Sheetz parking lot, just sitting in my Swagger Wagon enjoying a schnacky-schnack and a Diet Coke . . . and a little peace and quiet.