Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Patient Mom Makes Unexplained Appearance

Today was a good day. I just wish I knew why. What did I do to keep things (me) from unraveling today?

This happens periodically, but not too often. Things just work out without the seemingly constant struggle I usually encounter to do the most basic of tasks. Not too long ago I had accomplished so much during the day (including a full fancy dinner, washing and ironing my husband's dress shirts while watching a soap opera and had enjoyable coloring time with the kids,) that I actually felt insanely proud of myself as a wife and mother. Today wasn't necessarily productive though, it was just nice.

It was a pretty normal day, nothing exciting or profound occurred but as 5:00 pm rolled around I noticed that I felt....well, ok. On a normal night I usually feel anxious and completely spent after a day solo with the kids. I am exhausted from a million and one emotionally escalated encounters with Aiden and Cole over sharing, respect, and listening. I feel frustrated that I didn't cross off as many of the items on my to-do list as I wanted. I feel annoyed that my husband can't ever be home for dinner and to help put the kids to bed. I mostly just feel like I would like to escape and do something crazy like use the restroom by myself.  But tonight, no big deal.

I took all three to the grocery store today, which should have created all sorts of havoc, but I successfully shopped and even thought about what I was purchasing. I was even able to leave Cole and Aiden at the checkout line talking to the cashier about their legos so that I could run back for beer I had forgotten to pick up. (Yes Mom, I left them alone for a minute. It was a very close dash and I ran the entire way, holding Stella's neck firmly to support her. We're all fine...and most importantly, now we have beer!) Usually they would be falling apart after a trip through the store, but today they were cooperative and excited to be out of the house...I knew if I persisted they would eventually lower their expectations and find the grocery store just as fantastic as a trip to the playground.

Cole and Aiden fought just as much as usual today and I handled it all very calmly. There were fights over several lego pieces, a police outfit and an unbelievable meltdown exchange over an imaginary trophy won during an imaginary race, which Aiden insisted Cole did not fairly earn and only could have the imaginary sticker....seriously, why was this not bothering me more? I basically did what every parenting book and article I have read told me to do. I spoke in a clear and calm manner about the incident, was firm and did not engage in a conversation about the situation but rather just took control. I was awesome.  It had to happen eventually, right?

I didn't freak out when Cole threw every lego piece we own all over the playroom after I had asked him to pick up the few that were out. I simply walked in, picked up every piece I could see and walked away with them, he won't be getting those back anytime soon.  As Aiden screamed at Cole for not wearing the correct costume combination, Superman's belt with Robin's cape (a true sign of superhero disrespect apparently,) I asked him to go sit in timeout without raising my voice and when he didn't go, I simply handled it all calmly.  Seriously, what was happening?

I have poured over parenting books, discipline schools of thought, and read a million parenting magazines over the last 5 years.  I know that I should try to always be this zen, because I am the one in charge, but it just usually doesn't work out that way.  It is easy to say that I should never let the kids get a rise out of me so that they know when they misbehave they won't get to see my freak out....but usually I put on a pretty good show.  I lose it a lot and feel guilty about that, a lot.  Today it all rolled off my back and I was a better parent, a better wife and a just a better human.  Why was I like this?

I have a few theories.  First, my allergies weren't creating a massive sinus headache and I could breathe, which is always fun.  Second, I have been trying to work out a bit recently and my post baby stomach roll felt tighter than it had in months and this made me feel super.  Third, I had a little energy from a decent amount of well deserved rest...which I truly believe is life altering all by itself.  Finally, I stopped thinking about my to-do list and just sort of let it all go.

Yes, I know, I should do this every day and then life would be a big bowl of sunshine.  Well, maybe that is true, but come on....saying that is easier said than done is an understatement.  I have three kids under 5 and that's a lot going on everyday.  Some days it is just too much to have someone whining and crying because someone else took the blue cup or because their brother left the hose on too long.  It's tough to keep up a cheery attitude when your 5 year old demands his juice and breakfast and treats you like his slave, not only because this is horrible and offensive behavior, but because you also have to have the patience and responsibility to deal with that behavior.  It's not fun or easy to be consistently kind and carefree on 2 hour increments of sleep. It does get lonely dealing with the kids all day on your own from 7 am to 8 or 9 pm.  And sometimes the to-do list can't be thrown out the window, sometimes stuff has to get done and unfortunately I am the one to do it.

But, today was good.  Today was a good feeling as a Mom.  Maybe tomorrow I will be a little more cranky and a little less zen, but maybe I'll also remember how good this feels and recover as quickly as I can...maybe.


Amy Pollak said...

If you love reading parenting books and such, I've found "how to listen so your kids will talk and talk so your kids will listen" and "sibling rivalry" by the same authors to be fantastic.

Autumn said...

Your SIL, Sara, turned my on to your blog. I love it. We have two teenage sons but I can still remember feeling the way you do. I just read a few to my husband and he thought they were hilarious (and true, especially the part about men being better at being sick). His quote, "I love this lady, let's have them over for dinner!"

Leslie said...

Thanks Autumn! Tell your husband I'd be happy to come over for dinner anytime. I could try to think of something really funny to say during the meal. :) Two teenage sons...I am so terrified of those years. I'm praying my children adopt my fear of authority and paralysis of doing anything "fun" that might lead to trouble...if they follow after my husband I'm sure I'll pass out from fear each time they leave our house. I hope things are going well for you!