I want to thank you for busting into my house unannounced last week and catching me screaming at my kids. While at the time I was totally unappreciative (seeing as I thought you were a burglar and all) looking back, it was really quite the gift. You forced me to realize that I yell at my kids much too much. So thank you. Next time though, please do feel free to ring the doorbell and give me some warning!
Last Friday, I was attached to my breast pump which really is always a pleasure. Ugh. The baby was napping and my three older boys were in my room. Baby lock was on door so they couldn’t leave for the 10 minutes I mooed like a cow. I was exhausted as I was up the night before wasting time doing who knows what and then as luck would have it not 1, not 2, but 3 of my 4 boys had problems sleeping. So here we are, 4 tired people, trapped in my room for 10 minutes. Not 30 seconds into pumping and the boys find the pump spare parts – the back up tubes, the piston for the hospital pump, the extra “horns.” Before I knew it my room had turned into a battlefield. Two boys are whipping the tubes at each other and the other one is using the piston as a gun. I have a thing against playing guns – zero tolerance and it pushes me to the edge. They are all running around yelling, jumping on and off my bed, you know the bed that I had JUST made.
Now, when I use the breast pump I feel irritable. Gross. Sore. Disappointed (that I’m not breastfeeding) and let’s not forget HORMONAL. I can’t be bothered when I pump, and especially not touched. It’s enough that my breasts are being sucked alive, please don’t come and put a horn on my head or run around yelling or create more household chores for me to repeat.
But alas, all of the above items are happening, as if an invitation to me to lose it. I nicely ask my boys to stop. To sit criss-cross applesauce and tell me about what they would like to do that day. I try reading a book. Anything so that I don’t become the raging lunatic that I can be when I’ve been pushed to the edge.
And they don’t.
And I am stuck attached to the blessed boob-sucker and can’t get up and ever so politely walk over to them, bend down and make eye contact, gently place my hand on their shoulder and explain to them in pre-school terms that if they don’t stop NOW mommy is going to f’n lose it. (You know, because that is what all the parenting books tell you to do. Not the lose it parts, the other parts). I politely ask them again to stop.
And again, they ignore me (shocker).
The volcano that is me erupts. At high-pitched, as high as I go and loud as I go I scream “STOP IT NOW. MOMMY JUST NEEDS A MINUTE OF PEACE to regain her composure. PLEASE. JUST A MINUTE” Finally silence comes. My ever so intuitive 5 year old comes over and rubs my back “it’s okay mommy.” My 3.5 year old just looks at me then bats his eyelashes and smiles and then my 2 year old starts running around yelling because he has no clue. It was beyond infuriating.
And then I hear a noise and see a shadow outside the door. Oh sh*t I think; someone is robbing the house. You know, at 9am on Suburbia Lane. I open the bedroom door, and call out. Hello????
Silence. Finally, someone comes down from the attic. What the…
“Oh hi Mrs. “Orange Rhino”, its me Larry, just fixing some things.” (We’ve been doing construction on the house for a while to make room for baby #4…all the workers have become like family and have the code to the garage).
“um hi Larry, did you hear all that?”
With a big sh*t eating grin on his face he replies “Why, yes, yes I did. You go mom. A moms got to do what a mom has to do.”
MORTIFYING. MOR.TI.FYING (perhaps extra so because to all those breast pumpers out there you know that your breasts are extra um shall we say alert after pumping and I hadn’t inserted pads yet. Nice).
And that was it. The light bulb went off.
In the 9 months the workers lived with us, I only horrifically yelled a handful of times. That’s a pretty good track record if you ask me. BUT I only did that well because I had an audience that I cared what they thought about me. An audience that I wanted to look good in front of; who I wanted to show that I was a totally pulled together mom (which by the way, I am so not). An audience of people who after the work was done, I would never ever see again, unlike my boys who I will see every day for many many years to come, god willing.
So let’s do the math: People I’ll never see again and I don’t yell. My own boys who I will see every day and I can’t not yell. HOW BACKWARDS IS THAT? Way backwards.
Especially backwards because it turns out that I DO HAVE AN AUDIENCE. And it’s the one comprised of my four sons. It’s the ONLY AUDIENCE that matters. I love my audience fiercly. I care an awful lot about what they think of me. It just took me this mortifying moment to realize that I was putting on the show for the wrong people.
I don’t want my boys to think I’m a “mean witch” and that they “don’t like it when you yell at me, it makes me think you don’t love me anymore.” Ouch. That one stung. Or what about when my 5 year old told my mom that he is “just like mom. I yell all the time when I’m angry.” That one really hit home. This is how my kids see me…and how they are starting to act towards each other. They are starting to yell…just like me. Nice legacy I’m passing on, eh? Let’s not forget the feelings of shame, fear and sadness that I no doubt pass along when I go off one of my rants. Not exactly what I envisioned teaching my kids….
The rest of the day I was on better behavior –and it took A LOT and I mean A LOT of focus, patience, and resolve. I screamed a few more times. I was just wiped that day and didn’t have it in me to do better. Sigh.