Yesterday, I lost my shit. And by "lost my shit" I mean I threw a toddler-style tantrum, complete with screaming, kicking the wall and throwing things. What, you might ask, prompted this break with mature adult behavior at six forty-five in the evening? Hot Wheels - little metal cars, strewn about the play room, that Gage absolutely refused to pick up. My reaction may seem a bit extreme, and I am the first to admit it was, but to know what put me in the state of mind to become so unhinged by tiny cars and my own tiny, little person, we have to backtrack a bit.
I started the day yesterday at a disadvantage. I woke up tired and irritable due to PMS. This does not excuse poor behavior, but any woman thus afflicted, can understand it makes not ripping everyone's heads off a colossal exercise in restraint. We had to be out the door by nine o'clock for me to get the kids over to my parents' house, so my dad could watch them while I went for my annual exam at the gynecologist (yee-haw, what fun). I was having the house cleaned while we were gone, so in addition to the normal struggle of getting everyone dressed, fed, pottied and out the door, I was trying to get everything picked up. (I am not suggesting you feel sorry for me because I hired someone to clean my house.) I did, I thought, a remarkable job of not yelling at anyone during this process, but by the time I had all of us, including the dog, in the van and was backing down the driveway at precisely nine, I felt like I'd already expended my daily allotment of energy.
I dropped off the kids, went to my appointment (again, yee-haw) and returned just before Gage's nap. I put Gage down for a nap, went upstairs and did some work for Dad's and my engineering business we run out of their house. As soon as Gage woke up, we gathered the amazing amount of crap we take to my parents' for a mere three-hour visit, and stuffed everyone back in the van to head to Jack's soccer class. At the class, I spent my time trying to watch Jack practice and keep Gage from flooding the place with the water fountain at the same time. We went by Randall's on the way home to pick up one thing I needed to make dinner, and I decided to (gasp!) leave the kids in the car. I got sausage, paid, and was back at the van in under four minutes. No one stole the kids, which doesn't surprise me, because what nut job wants a five-year-old and a two-year-old they are not biologically beholden to take care of??
Back at home, we walked in to the smell of pinesol, which made me smile. A clean house makes Momma happy, even when she knows it will only last five minutes. Then, I discovered the cleaning crew had broken a ceramic handprint ornament the kids had done for Christmas, ate the cookies I was saving for dessert, and rearranged the pillows on Jack's bed. (Okay, that last one was only a big deal because Jack was extremely upset about it.) I took deep breaths, and left Jack in his room to scream and, "get the poison out," as Jason says. When Jack was calm, we went downstairs, where the kids watched Mickey Mouse, while I made dinner. Dinner was uneventful, except for the kids not eating what I cooked. Apparently, black beans and rice with turkey sausage is a very suspicious dish and not be trusted.
After dinner, I was emptying the dish washer while the kids played surprisingly nicely together in the playroom. I thought, "I made it. It was a really busy day, I was in a bad mood, but I did all right."
Then I walked into the playroom to help the kids clean up before bath and it happened:
Me: Let's pick up all these cars.
Jack: Gage dumped them out.
Me: Gage, come help clean up.
Gage: (Ignores me while engrossed in a plastic bracelet.)
Me: Come on, Gage, clean up, clean up...(I sing the clean up song to no avail.)
I pick Gage up, carry him to the cars.
Me: Toss the cars in the basket, Gage! Two points! (I try to make a game out of it.)
Gage: giggle, giggle, giggle (still not cleaning up)
In hindsight, I should've just let it go. I know I need to be consistent with the clean-up thing, but I knew I didn't have the patience, and I should've just closed the playroom door, gone upstairs with the kids, and forgotten it. But I didn't. I stood up, gave a primal scream at the top of my lungs, threw the basket on the tile floor, and kicked the wall with my bare foot. I guess Jack wasn't the only one who needed to get the poison out. At this point, both kids started crying, and I immediately felt awful. Great example there, Mom. Way to show the kids how to control their tempers. Now you've scared them. Jack was sobbing, Gage was crying, "Mama, Mama, Mama!" I sat down on the floor with my head in my hands, and that's when Jason walked in. " Welcome home to the asylum, honey!!"
Both kids came over and sat in my lap, and we hugged for a while until everyone felt a little better. I said I was sorry for losing my temper and that I would do better next time. Then, Gage got up, picked up one of the Hot Wheels and went over and dropped it in the basket. Then, he looked at me with a questioning expression and said, "eh?" Interpretation: Is this what you got so worked up about?
Jason gave the kids their bath that night, while I laid on our bed and cried. It was something I needed to do. It was cathartic, and afterwards, I felt much better. I could hear Jason laughing with the kids in the tub, and I was so very grateful to have him, to know that he could be patient with them when I couldn't. Jack and Gage and I cuddled, read books, and reconnected before Jason put them to bed, and that made me feel better, too. After that, I had a bath, drank some wine, watched some tv, and went to bed, And this morning, I felt renewed - ready to take on the day, and the kids. I even had a few new ideas about how to get Gage to do things like clean up and get dressed that would help it be less frustrating for all of us. This story doesn't really have a moral or a point, except to say, some days are hard and sometimes I'm not going to handle the hard things well, because I am imperfect, but that's all right, because I am lucky. I have forgiving children and a husband to share the burdens of life and child rearing with. Plus, he intuitively knows when to bring home wine. Thanks, guys.