We all know the Jekyll vs Hyde that lurks beneath every mom’s strained voice, uttering the words, “If you do that ONE more time”. We know the over-detailed, pointless, idiotic rationalization we have done with our incoherent children, explaining to them in detail why they should not poke their brother’s eye, flush a toilet paper ROLL down the toilet, or stuff their cherished paci’s in the air ducts. It’s JUST BECAUSE, we end up yelling amid a string of threats, after ten minutes of trying to be a good, patient mommy. We end up, voices hoarse, feeling guilty for loosing it again.
How did we forget that kids are not rational? That the age of reason happens much, much later in life? And then we take a moment to reflect, and wonder, am I even there yet myself? If I have reached the age of reason, how am I finding myself in this mess (of diapers, tantrums, and copious amounts of disgusting bodily fluids)?
“Why?” Kids ask, in response to everything. “Why? Why? Why?” If I got ten cents for every time I heard that, you could bet your pretty little push up bras and dingy white spanx that I’d be lounging in some remote island, devoid of not only kids, but all humans, and going deaf with the sound of silence while drinking my remaining brain cells dumber than they already are after three pregnancies.
“Why?” The darling children ask. “Because”, our brain screams, “you’re making my life hard, exhausting, and ultimately, irritating (in this moment of course…not when you’re fast asleep and I’ve had a chance to actually miss you and-you-look-so-innocent-and-cute-while-you-sleep).
This Crazy-mommy, as we shall now dub her, usually tries oh so hard to be a good mommy. She says please and thank you, and holds her tongue when her brain is screaming, “Shut the hell up!” She smiles when she is irritated, and says, “Oh what a wonderful picture”, when asked for her attention for the thousandth time. She bends over to pick up items that have most likely hit her head or her backside in the mayhem. She tries to act excited when her children display their bodily functions: “Oh what an…awesome…poo-poo”. She withholds the grimace when a splatter of vomit lands in her eye. She sooths irrational babies, kisses boo boos while dusting off their child’s clothes and saying quickly, “You’ll be ok, no problem, you’re a tough cookie.” Alternately, she hugs and squeezes and coddles occasionally, when she knows there’s a little one craving just a little more love.
But this poor, delirious, Crazy Mommy has a limit. The transformation to Hyde Mommy almost always begins between the hours of 3 and 5pm, when every house in the country containing small children is deliciously and totally insane. Kids who didn’t nap are overtired and wired. Kids who did nap are just wired…everyone is hungry, and little hands are scrambling into pantries and freezers and fridges, grabbing at whatever their little finger radars tell them has the most sugar.
This is precisely the time that I begin to wonder things like, “Where is my husband”, until I realize that he will be at work for at least another 2 hours. Then I wonder other essentials, like how to keep my 3 year old from smashing my 9month old in a big baby sandwich while cooking dinner.
It is in these bewitching hours that I begin to ponder the important questions of life. “Why did I ever let my husband get near me”, or, “why did we share that toothbrush”, depending on just how fertile you are. Then I begin wondering how I might squeeze myself, or at least my top half, into the closed large octagonal side table in the living room, and if it might be quiet inside when I wedged myself in. I begin to contemplate the important details to this endeavor, that is, how I will also squeeze my wine bottle in with me.
It’s all in the details, I decide, and continue my career on autopilot. I open a door, close a lock, pour juice, change cups because that isn’t the riiiighhht cupppp (copious tears), put one child on a time out, find a toy for the other (I need Benny the Snake mommy, where is heeee?), put the other back on a time out because he didn’t stay on, stir the burning dinner, get baby out of garbage, check facebook (I know, I know! It’s disgusting!), lecture the child on chair as to why he’s there, answer myriads of questions about when birthdays will occur, begin writing birthday lists at the request of the five year old, because we must not forget to buy that dragon kite that he saw on google images. Dinner is burnt, time out was a big FAIL, baby is again being squashed by three year old while simultaneously trying to gag himself with the kitchen broom. Five year old has become loud and is repeating himself and starting to stutter because he is wired and tired.
Meanwhile, Crazy Mommy bubbles inside, deliriously fuming, angry, and loud. It’s too much, it’s always too much, I need to GET OUT OF HERE.
This is when I reach for my glass of wine and think, to hell with it. A glass of wine or a yelling mommy…is that the only difference between me and my own mom? As scary as that sounds, being just a line away from the insanity that I remember in my own childhood (who could blame her! She had six of us!), I wonder if we all have a bit of crazy in us. And perhaps the good that we do is trying our best to quiet her, squelch her, until a lot of our moments are comprised of trying to keep the lid on it while we go about our tasks.
Squelching the irritation takes a lot of our energy, and it’s mentally and physically draining (where are the dang scientists who are supposed to fix the perpetual mommy-energy-deficit? Forget the stock market. Forget trees. Priorities, people!). We may not feel happy either…in fact, we may feel like the lousiest mom in the world, but we try.
Yes, the fact that we try means we ARE good moms. The thing in us that makes us feel like we’re never doing enough, that we’re never good enough, that we don’t love as perfectly as we should: this is what makes us know that we ARE good mothers. If you’re satisfied with yourself, it is impossible to grow. You have nothing spurring you on! And someone once told me, it’s really not important how you feel about something, but instead, it’s the action that really counts. WHAT you do weighs so much more than how you feel about it.
If we can just hang on to that when Crazy Mommy starts scraping her chipped, sad nails at our insides, maybe we can channel our own acceptance, and finally perhaps, douse her with a beautiful, perfect glass of wine.