I’m not always the mom I want to be. I just pulled up little man’s chin and forced him to look at me and told him I was very frustrated with him because he was being mean to his baby sister and not listening to me. I said it with a growl in my voice and a scowl on my face. That’s not the mom I want to be. I like the basic philosophy of the Love and Logic parenting series and their whole theory is that when we loose our cool, as parents, the kiddos win. If I had not been so frazzled, I would have just picked up little man (who was sitting on the potty, naked from the waist down), said “uh-oh no, we don’t kick or push our baby sister, time out in your bed time,” plopped him in his bed, picked up the baby, and walked away.
But I was frazzled.
It was a Wednesday morning and I was trying to get little man out the door for summer school (which he LOVES) and that involves preparing breakfast for 2 kids (while little man makes farting noises into his cup), feeding them breakfast (which involves actual spoon feeding for baby girl and goes like this: spoon of yogurt, SCREECH! spoon of yogurt, SCREECH! spoon of yogurt, SCREECH!), shoveling oatmeal into my mouth (the microwave in 60 seconds kind, not the healthier cook on the stove top kind my own mom/nana creates), cleaning up said breakfast (including waffle bits tossed on the floor by baby girl to signal “all done”—the kid has her own version of baby sign language), washing two little sets of hands and faces, realizing that even though I already dressed baby girl and she had a bib on, she’s all wet because she’d been, under the radar, spitting water out from her sippy cup and not drinking it, corralling little man down the stairs (who wants to be caaarrriiiieeeedddd—and I can’t carry him because I have to carry baby girl and this not so young mama’s back has been hurting lately and I’m sure I’ll throw it out if I attempt to carry two children…which knowing me I actually would), re-dressing baby girl (who wiggles and rolls over and squawks the whole time because she doesn’t like to be confined or forced to be still…ever), and dressing little man (who’s running around the room and tossing his clothes in the air while baby girl, who loves her new skill of balancing on her feet is climbing up me with her hands and swaying and giggling in delight and pulling my hair in the process because it’s the easiest thing to lunge for when you’re falling) and combing his hair (while he’s yelling ouch, I want to do it when I know I am being as gentle as I can be). And little man suddenly howls “I have to go POOOOOOP!” and I’m plopping him on the toilet and baby girl is now crawling towards him and pulling herself up on his legs and he’s yelling “NO” and kicking and pushing and wiggling her away (and I get that maybe the boy wants a little privacy while he poops) and that’s when I lose it and grab little man’s chin and pull it up so I can stare him down.
I want to be the sing-songy uh-oh no mommy. And sometimes I am that mommy. But I wasn’t on Wednesday morning.
In a perfect world, my two children would eat their breakfast with quiet smiles on their faces and tell me how much they appreciate me (great waffle mom, thanks for making it this morning), and baby girl would pull her two little fists together to tell me “more” or wave her little hands when she’s all done. And when it’s time to go downstairs and get ready for school, little man would say “ok, I love school” and quickly skip downstairs and pull on his own clothes (which he can do but doesn’t like to) and baby girl (who would still be dry of course) would quietly sit and hold a toy while I brushed little man’s hair (who would of course be standing still the whole time) and then we would all happily walk to the car, sing happy songs together as we drive (instead of little man yelling Veggie Tales, I want Veggie Tales from the back seat and me, who really needs a little church music so I don’t throttle my kids, saying mommy’s choice this morning—which I did actually manage in a sing song voice), and get to school 5 minutes early (instead of 5 minutes late).
That would be a really nice morning. But that’s not how my mornings ever go. So instead I’m frazzled. But it’s really more about me than it is about them. I’m the mommy and I’m the one who’s (supposedly) in charge so it’s my job to choose my words and choose the tone in my household. But some days, that’s so stinking hard. Some days I’m just barely hanging on and holding it together.
I want to be that mom who’s got it all under control. Whose kids are polite and have well combed hair. The mom who runs her own business AND spends focused, calm time, with each of her children daily, and makes home cooked meals every night and sits and converses with her husband each night over wine after the kids are in bed. The mom who walks around singing as the birds twirl around her and do her chores. The Cinderella mom. She’s always kind, always calm. Never has a negative word to say about her child or husband or that other mom. I want to be the Cinderella mom. The one who scrubs the floors and speaks kindly to her evil step-sisters as they flounce off to the ball.
But I’m not. And I can’t do it all. I’ve actually failed in my own eyes. I’m bringing in a nanny.
I have been totally opposed to a nanny. But you RUN your own business! my friends remind me. So far I’ve functioned with what I call “the big juggle.” It involves grandparents, piecemeal assistance from college girls when I have appointments, working during naptimes and in evenings and on weekends. It involves rarely spending time with my husband and collapsing at the end of the day in front of the TV for a few minutes before I fall into bed. When I recounted all this and started to break down to an older friend of mine she simply said, “you need help.”
I don’t need help! I can do it all! But at what cost? A nanny sure costs… But I’ve come to realize there are other costs. The costs of being frazzled all the time. The cost of added stress on my marriage. The costs of not being fun for my kids. I worked at summer camps all through college and I was totally the fun one! I ran around all summer with kids just being fun! When did I stop being fun?
So starting this week, 2 days a week we have a nanny/helper coming (as in she cleans and cooks too!). And the grandparents will still take Friday afternoons. And I’m petrified. All the what if’s of the crazy nanny freaking out on my kids and the loss of control and…
One of my friends said she thinks I’ll adjust pretty fast. I’ll repeat that the nanny/helper cleans and cooks too. Oh, and does laundry. Another friend told me that she thinks I’ll start sparkling: my hair will suddenly always be done, my make-up perfect! (and now I’m wondering how I usually look?)
I keep wondering why I am so afraid of acknowledging that I need help. That I actually can’t do it all. That I actually really need my friends and my community and my family. That I need a village. Sitting over dinner with two girlfriends last week, one said, “I have a village—I just pay my village!”
After another crazy morning at Sea World earlier this week where baby girl, for the first time ever, refused her morning nap and instead screamed for 1.5 hours, and little man and BFF blondie girl ran around like maniacs, and oh yeah, I forgot it was August and the place was PACKED, and my girlfriend and I just kind of looked at each other and chuckled. That kind of low key sarcastic laugh—not the ha ha this is truly funny laugh. I looked at her and just said, “I’m so thankful I have you.” “We get each other,” she replied.
Needing others is a hard place to let myself get to. But I guess even Cinderella had her little animal friend helpers.
It’s a hard place. But it’s a good place.