Friday, April 8, 2016

To the mother in the consignment store

"I QUIT!!!"

I yelled the words and then bolted into my bedroom, locking the door behind me. I threw myself face down on my bed, sprawled out, head in hands, totally done in. I'm a bit ashamed to admit those were indeed my final words to my children on Wednesday night. What a soothing way for them to wind down and close the day as they slipped into sleep, I'm sure...

Maybe even more embarrassingly, they didn't appear to be even the least bit phased by my outburst which seem to be occurring with increased frequency as of late. I am gifted with a brood of sweet and sensitive souls who, when they choose to be, are very in tune with my level of stress. My eldest says things like "I'm sorry we're upsetting you so much, Mom" more times than I'd like to confess. 

Like I said before, it's spring break and my two youngest have been with me every waking hour for days. I fear I sound so high maintenance, y'all, but I'm learning to just accept me for me and the truth is that this mama is an introvert, one who is battling depression at that, and she NEEDS a minute every single day to finish a thought or read a few pages of a book or hide in the closet and eat chocolate. When this doesn't happen, it ain't pretty, folks. 

Wednesday marked the third day in a row of no nap for the littlest and his mood was showing it. In his sleepy malaise, he apparently deemed it was a good idea to do some investigation in the pantry while I was out in the yard. I came inside to find dried rice had been his carb of choice and it was everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. Meanwhile, my eldest had planned the sweetest and fanciest of tea parties for her babysitter/my mother's helper and the aftermath of the event was massive. Like as in scone crumbs covering the entire downstairs and all the way up the stairs sort of massive. The dishes all needed to be washed by hand. And then there were the Nutella smears on all of the linens as well as the light switches. 

It wasn't just the mess though. The day had started off rocky and the kids were in one of those moods, those moods where nothing would suffice. Offer them this and they want that. Ask them to do something and they defiantly reject you. I swear us moms could arm wrestle the office folk under the table with the number of times we've had the words "NO!!!!" yelled in our faces. I mean, I'm pretty sure that would be a fire-able offense in the paid workforce. Even from a creature half your size, it's a little bit debilitating after a while to be told off with such frequency. 

By the time late afternoon rolled around, I was twitching with the culmination of events over the course of the day. The kids were all cranky, incessantly needy, begging for snacks and the house was a disaster. I simply could not handle the state of affairs and totally abandoned ship, leaving a sink full of dishes, a kitchen full of rice, and a floor covered with enough crumbs we could sweep them onto our plates and call it dinner. I told the kids they could each have a yogurt IN THE CAR (famous last words) and we loaded up to head to the grocery store. I called my husband and warned him of the impending doom, should he somehow beat us home. 

Dinner some how got made and, not surprisingly, none of the kids liked it (which of course they let me know). The rest of the events of that day don't really matter except for the teeth brushing which was the final straw for me. We ran out of my middle child's favorite flavor of toothpaste and so I had to use mine. She grew distraught, wailing about how she didn't like it. And that was it. I was done. Completely DONE. In 12 hours time, there had been enough disagreements, enough rejection to last me a lifetime. Or at least an evening. And so I called it quits.  

Thankfully my employers don't seem to want to get rid of me and every day I wake up and they are still here, ready to welcome me back.

On Thursday I was in a kid's consignment store looking for a scooter for my son. There was another mom there with her toddler daughter who looked to be about 18 months or so. The girl was playing happily, pushing a toy shopping cart around the store. The mother had this way about her that immediately rubbed me wrong. She was parenting loudly - we all have encountered this kind of parent - the one who makes it look like they're talking to their kid but really they are just talking for all the other moms to hear. It's as if they are trying to advertise their expertise and amazingness to all the rest of us "inferior" moms who can't possibly know how to do it right. *Shudder*

I tried to ignore her but her presence was pretty hard to miss. I did my best to focus on my scooter quest when I overheard her tell her daughter "Ok sweetie, I've given you plenty of Autonomy Time. Now it's time for us to put the toys away and go home."

For a second the whole world stopped. AUTONOMY TIME??!! What the heck is that!?! And then I threw up a little in my mouth.  

Honestly, that lady was lucky to walk out of that shop alive given my state of mind at that moment. I could have strangled her. Her words lit a fire in me and I really wanted to grab her square in the shoulders, look her in the eye and scream at her "YOU! You and your 'autonomy time' are exactly the reason us moms feel so inferior! We live in a part of the world that is obsessed with creating new words and big terms and making up formulas on how to parent the 'right way.' You take a concept as simple as 'playing alone' and turn it into a scientific term to dangle in the rest of our faces and make us feel totally inadequate. If only we do X, Y, and Z, you tell us, our kids will turn out. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but I don't think it works like that. We are already living in perpetual fear that we are doing it all 'wrong' and and not doing enough of this or enough of that and then you throw around a word that makes parenting sound all scientific and it makes us want to disappear. Some of us are just trying to survive the day, NOT worry about whether we have provided our kids with enough 'autonomy time.'" Good grief. 

Thankfully, I restrained myself and I didn't actually say any of that. (Hallelujah, right!? That could have gotten ugly). 

My point in sharing all this isn't actually to throw this stranger under the bus. This post isn't actually for her at all. It's for the rest of us. For you and for me. For the mama who is questioning, for the one who is insecure. For the every day mama who perpetually wonders if this will be the instance when we screw up our kids for good. I say this as much to you as I say it to myself. Don't listen to the crazy voices in your head or coming from the mouth of the mother shopping in the consignment store next to you. DON'T let them belittle you. It feels hard because it IS hard. We are doing difficult yet rewarding work. Be honest when the going gets rough. This is a tough gig and we need each other's support. Take courage, my friend. You are not alone!

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posted by kelsie