Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Sometimes less is more (or: Can I please get a break from parenting?)
My children think the floors are wet.
I have just spent 3 hours cleaning my house: the full blown kind, with mopping and scrubbing mildewy corners of showers and replacing all the area rugs. And now? Now I am practically hiding in my bedroom, having "dinner" (don't feel bad; I looooovvvvve guac, salsa, and beer), and letting my boys think the floors are still wet, and therefore, they are required to stay in their room.
So far, it's worked out pretty well. I mean, I was able to open the beer, guacamole, and salsa, and start this post. I will let you know as I proceed how it all turns out.
So is this what life comes down to when you're a parent? (I say "parent," since really, I must admit, that I am one of the BLESSED ones to have a husband who is more of a mother than I am, so I'm guessing he does this sorta thing, too, except I suspect he does it in the bathroom, claiming a stomach ache and reading his Men's Health magazines.) We steal a moment here and there, hoping and praying with bated breath that it will extend to a couple of minutes...then five...then--dare we?--15? And before you know it maybe you have read the whole article on how to have killer abs and build your biceps after 40, or you have completed a full draft of a blog post.
It's definitely gotten easier. Overall, we can't complain. We just gave away the big step stool for the bathroom. It is amazing how ecstatic it can make a couple to toss the tall one and leave only the short little Elmo step. Having two boys who can reach the sink, either on flat feet, tippy-toes, or a squat little step? Glorious.
Because for us, it means less.
Less times we will have to go and help Aidan Kai brush his teeth. Less times we will have to stop mid-kitchen-clean-up post-dinner to help him reach his toothbrush. Less of the constant demands that little ones bring.
Okay, now I am really full-out lying here. Ben just called "Mama? Can we come now?" and I responded with "In a few minutes. It's still drying." If it weren't for this Heineken, I'd feel really, really guilty. Thanks to this Heineken, I only feel a little bit guilty. Two more chips, and I GOTTA run a bath...
So I'll go ahead and tell you to please refrain from commenting on how I'm going to miss these days...how I'm going to wish I could do more, instead of less.
I have written about that, too. For real. Look around.
But today, right now, I am more about the less.
I've been wondering lately why I lose my patience so easily. Last night, in fact, I dreamt that I slapped Ben 3 times in public for doing the wrong thing, repeatedly and harshly. And my dad was there, and he was just like: "Wow, you are just ruthless."
Intermission: Okay, dinner instead of baths. 2 bowls of heated up spaghetti leftovers and some Hi-C, and I'm back. Of course, now I have to go back to the beginning and reread everything, because I have no recollection where the hell I was. That's the thing with parenting, too: your life is in a constant state of interruption (at least for the first few years, before they stop talking to you altogether, according to what I hear from my friends with teenagers, and yes, I know that I will probably be blogging about how much easier it was when they were little and how much I miss my children talking to me) because your main purpose and responsibility in life is them.
But the thing with my lack of patience...it's just that it never seems to stop. I am always packing lunches or practicing flashcards or counting to 3 or using reverse psychology so someone will eat a piece of chicken. And if you know me, you know there is ALREADY a whole lot of noise in my head as it is. My head NEVER shuts down. So put that all together with the noise of work, life, laundry, and kids: it's explosive.
I realized while I was driving home alone today, windows open, radio blaring, that I used to do this thing to drown out the noise. I had totally forgotten about it until today. On those days when work got to be too much or life was a little too complicated, I would get in the car and do what I found myself doing today: drive with the music so loud, that I could no longer hear the sound of my own voice--or anyone else's--inside my head. By the time I got home, I felt significantly more clear-headed. It was as if I was allowing myself, for that brief period of time in the car, to block everything out: no plans, no worries, no thoughts, no stress, just my music and the wind. And it worked. But now, it is extremely rare that at least one of my kids isn't in the car with me, or, as is even more often the case, the whole family.
"Mama can I have more cheese I already ate some spaghetti can I have more cheese I'm tired." All one sentence. All one thought. I'm off again, probably forgetting my own thoughts while I'm grabbing another serving of my youngest's favorite version of protein: sliced cheese. Don't worry: the pediatrician approved it.
So yeah, there really isn't too many opportunities to drown out the noise anymore. And even when I get a chance to, the minute the volume on the radio is turned down, the volume at home is turned up. And I feel like I'm always on call.
Sometimes, during phases like this, I find myself counting the days of the month. Surely, there MUST be a valid reason for my shortness, my general grouchiness, the resentment that can threaten to creep in, the desperate need for solitude. If it's caused by something hormonal, then it's not really my fault, right? It's not that I'm a bad mom. It's not that I don't love my life. It's not me. And sometimes, the calendar happens to fall on the right day, and I let myself off the hook. But other times...
Crisis! Aidan Kai ate allllll the pineapple. Ben is NOT happy. Grapes serve as substitute. Followed by 5 SourPatch candies each, half of which end up scattered all over my newly clean floor.
Ben: "Look, Mommy, when I scrape my fork on my teeth is sounds like a sword!"
Aidan Kai: "Buuuuuttttt I don't waaaaaannnnnttt to brush my teeeeeeeth."
Me: "Ben, stop scraping your teeth with metal. Aidan, no teeth brushing, no bubble bath."
...but other times, I can't peg it on female bullshit.
I can make up all kinds of other excuses, but the bottom line is that sometimes I just want to hide in my room and drink a beer.