Please excuse me, as this blog post may come across as a bit of a rant. A venting session, I guess. The past several weeks have not been the best for me.
Before I had children, I had a pretty good idea of what life with children would be like.
I had no misconceptions about getting through the day-to-day routine of feeding, dressing, washing, feeding, re-dressing, feeding, re-washing, feeding and putting to bed a child (or more than one child).
I was fully prepared to stay home with my little brood, to teach them everything they need to know to become responsible, happy adults.
More than anything, I was excited about all the fun we would have together. See? This is where I was delusional.
I imagined taking my kids to the fair and feeding them cotton candy and taking them on rides. I imagined picking them up from school and making them healthy snacks and playing hide and seek or a board game. Maybe Chinese Checkers. I would help them with homework in a calm, cheerful manner. I imagined cheering them on in sports, even if they were terrible.
I knew I'd be exhausted, but I figured it would be a happy exhausted. As our children have finally gotten old enough to do fun things with - the aforementioned carnivals, movies, camping, whatever - I found myself looking forward to all of these things.
[CUE SUSPENSE MUSIC TO CONVEY A SENSE OF DOOM.]
These darn kids are RUINING it for me!
Not really, I'm being dramatic.
But - I am going through a tough "season" as a parent. Such a far cry from what I imagined when I held them as tiny infants, smelling the new baby smell, anticipating all the fun we'd have when they got older, whispering, "I can't wait to take you fishing," or "I am so excited to find a favorite game we can play together every weekend." What I should have said is, "For such a tiny little person, it's incredible how much damage you will do to my psyche."
I TRY! I try so hard. I do science experiments with them. I play hide and seek tag with them. I take them fun places.
As soon as I pick my oldest son up from school, I am overcome with exhaustion. From the moment he gets in the car.
Here's how the conversation goes. Every. Single. Day.
Me: Hello. How was your day?
Logan: Great! How was your day?
Me: Great! What did you do today?
Logan: Well, I didn't have anyone to play with at recess because so-and-so was being mean to me.
Me: I'm sorry. What happened.
Logan: [LOOONG LOOOOONG STORY about how a kid told him to shut the bleep up event hough he didn't say anything, which I know is a lie because the kid never stops talking.]
Me: I'm sorry to hear that. Did you try talking to him?
Logan: Yes, but he told me to shut the bleep up.
Me: Do you think you could do anything differently to prevent that next time?
Logan: No, he's just mean. Can we go out to eat for a snack today?
Me: No, we're going home. We have to leave for gymnastics/soccer/baseball soon.
Logan: I think I need new shoes. Can you take me to get new shoes?
Me: We just bought those a week ago. I'm sure they still fit.
Logan: What can we do when we get home?
Me: Have a snack, do homework and leave for gymnastics/soccer/baseball.
Logan: Can grandma watch me so I don't have to go to Austin's gymnastics/soccer/baseball?
Me: You can call and ask her. But I'm not sure if she's home.
Logan: Okay. What can I have for a snack?
Me: Greek yogurt, veggies, fruit, string cheese, a sandwich.
Logan: I don't want those. Can I have something else?
Me: If you can find something.
Logan: Can you make me a 9-layer cake?
[Okay, he never asks for a 9-layer cake.]
We arrive home and have a snack. Kids watch a show and play a game.
Logan: I don't want to do my homework.
Me: It's due tomorrow, why don't you just get it over with?
Logan: I hate math.
Me: I know, but you're so good at it. This page will take you like 4 minutes.
Logan: Do I have to do it?
Me: To practice math.
Logan: I hate math.
Me: Now you've argued about it for longer than it would have taken you to do it. You also need to work on your science fair project.
Logan: I don't want to. I'll do it tomorrow.
Me: If you do a little each day, it will be so much easier than if you try to do it all at once.
Logan: I know. I'll do it tomorrow.
Me: I'd like you to just do a little bit today.
Logan: I don't want to. I hate science. I hate my science fair project.
Me: You don't have to do it. You wanted to, but you can wait until next year.
Logan: I want to do it!
Me: Okay, then you need to work on it a bit today.
Logan: I hate science. I don't want to.
Austin: Mom, can you get me milk?
Me: Yes, just a minute, I'm starting dinner so it's ready when we get home.
Austin: Can't we eat out?
Me: No, I'm cooking dinner.
Austin: What are we having?
Austin: I don't like chicken.
Me: Then you can eat more side dishes.
Austin: What are we having for side dishes?
Me: Green beans.
Austin: I don't like green beans. I'm not hungry. Can you get me some milk? Can I have a snack? Can you open my granola bar? Can you watch me do a handstand? Can you watch me play my iPad? Can you turn on a show for me? Can you find my socks for me? Can you go downstairs and get my pajamas?
Natalee: Mo-om.... Austin took my princess/necklace/Minnie Mouse slipper.
Me: Stop tattling. Austin, give Natalee her prince/necklace slipper back.
Austin: I'm using it.
Me: It's a princess/necklace/slipper.
Austin: She wasn't using it. Can you get me some milk?
Me: HERE IS YOUR MILK! STOP ASKING ME!
Natalee: I don't like this song. I don't like sandwiches. I don't like this book. I don't like apples. I don't like these shoes. (She is lying. She likes every single one of them.)
I'm not gonna lie: I have completely lost my shit twice in the past 2 weeks. My husband has been working a crappy shift (4 pm to 2 am Wednesday through Saturday) which means he is completely unavailable to help with children. Also, his work car is in the shop being repaired, so he can't take his dog to work. Which means I have a toddler and a puppy at home. My work has been totally busy, so when he's home during the day he is chatting to me about whatever happened at his work the night before. I feel like I've been under a lot of pressure. I get up before the kids, so I can work. I work when they're in school. I work after they go to bed.
The other day, my mom was watching my nephew. She brought him to Austin's tball game and he asked if he could come over afterward. We got to our house, and my husband's dog ran outside to where my parents' dog was playing in our driveway. They're not looking like they like each other too much. They're barking, their hair is standing up, all 4 kids are yelling. I finally get the dog inside, and start dishing up dinner. We manage to get the kids to the table after asking them only 6 MILLION TIMES to wash hands and sit down and after Austin has thrown a coin at Logan's eye. We get everyone food and drinks. Logan eats, but no one else is hungry. Everyone else leaves the table to play and make a huge mess in the house I just cleaned. We finish eating and ask for help cleaning up. People are running around the house in laps. The dogs start chasing my nephew while wrestling each other. They knock over my nephew and Logan starts screaming at the dog. I yell at him to stop screaming and of course he argues about it because he's scared the dogs are going to hurt his cousin.
(Of course in the moment, I completely forget that he is probably traumatized from the time our big dog tried to eat our little dog, and picked her up by the head and shook her several times, and the boys witnessed it.)
So I send him to his room for talking back, yelling, "YOU MAY NOT READ FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH!!!!! I don't care about your goddamn science fair project or your stupid math book that is due next week! I don't care about your homework! I'm SICK of trying to help you with EVERYTHING and you resisting me!" My nephew takes a pice of the plastic castle and throws it as hard as he can into the bin.
I yell, "That is NOT how we treat our toys! We are all done with your help and you may go home now!"
Meanwhile the little dog is ON THE TABLE eating off the plates.
My nephew wants to know if he can have a dance party with his cousins.
"NOOOO! You may not have a dance party! We are going to bed!"
By the time I get them to bed, it's 8:30 p.m. and I still have 2 more projects to write.
Of course, I love my children. They're smart, funny, and of course, exceedingly adorable. But lately they have been SO. CHALLENGING.
"Want to play a board game?" I ask.
"No. We don't like board games."
"Want to help me in the garden?"
"No. We don't like the garden."
"Want to have a dance party?"
"No. We don't like dance parties."
"Want to read a book?"
"What do you want to do?"
"Eat the hearts of small animals."
Not to worry: there ARE fun moments. There are moments when I admire how funny the kids are, how cute they are, how much I love them.
This past weekend, I took the boys to do their first big bike race, and we all had a great time. Natalee has been doing a funny thing where she runs up and squeezes my leg and shouts, I LOVE YOU!" Austin wants to sit in my lap when we have a family movie night. And those are the moments I always imagined I'd experience when I had kids.
But lately, I find myself wanting, more than anything, to get over to a secluded island and spend some quiet time with a bottomless margarita. I am so grateful my children are healthy and boisterous and have minds of their own. I am grateful I HAVE work, and that my husband does, too. But a margarita doesn't sound too bad right now. At all.
Does this ever happen to you? How do you get out of your parenting funk?