This is for the Mom FAIL days—regardless of cause or fault. Whether it’s a day when you didn’t check into your kids at all, doing what I like to call the unenthusiastic, auto-pilot. The ones where you complain about how badly behaved your kids have been only to realize (once they’ve been asleep for a few hours) that the majority of their suckage was because of you.
Or the times where you have planned/bought something so cool that you just knew the day was going to be filled with wonder-filled joy and thanks. But instead of being met with adoring eyes, you are met with a rage befitting someone clinical.
You were certain you were going to earn Supermom status and instead they voted you off the island. Acceptance of these Mom FAIL moments is the first step in the Supermom Detoxification Program.
Mom FAIL. That was my Wednesday. As strongly as I believe that Small People need to learn about disappointment, boredom, and self-entertainment, there is an upper limit to what they will do without my participation. I know there is a 60-minute deposit of my attention required before I can even hope for the reward of 15-minutes of me-time. I know that. I really do. But sometimes I forget.
It’s a good thing that I also believe that Big People—theoretically more mature than Small People—should apologize for their own bad behavior.
Elliot, aka Sicky-Cranky, is cutting another tooth (how many freakin’ teeth do these kids have); he’s constipated from only wanting to drink milk; and he has a nasty cold. We’ve all been stuck together,at home, all week.
As it turns out, my urge to clean is directly correlated with the number of cumulative hours spent indoors. Which is why I brushed the dogs, vacuumed, mopped, stripped all of the bed-sheets and made homemade pita chips. I also built a fort in their bedroom and a train track in the playroom. I collected fort-objects (sun-glasses and flashlights) and train-objects—matching engineer hats that I got for $1 each at the last consignment sale. For afternoon snack, I made a fruit-cream out of blueberries, strawberries, mango and yogurt.
How awesome am I? Whoo-hoo…Supermom. If I read this on someone’s facebook, I’d be amazed, jealous and a little annoyed.
Except that instead of my children playing quietly in their fort, with whispers and giggles, they were fighting over the broom. Instead of playing trains, they were throwing things, biting and kicking. The special frozen smoothie? Made especially to soothe the mouth of a teething kid? My 21-month-old Iron Chef refused to eat it and shoved the whole bowl across the table until it hit the floor.
No one was in a good mood. We all blamed each other.
I started it though. For every domestic task I completed, they weren’t getting my attention. There was a lot of domestication…far more than I normally do. Not a lot of attention…far less than I normally give. I stopped to think about how exited they must have been about the fort, only to have the fun ruined by my bored and annoyed-to-be-there presence.
Zach— “You’re going to BUILD US A FORT?”
Elliot— “Fuk, Fuk, Fuk” (I swear he’s saying fort). “Book, pease. Pease read.”
Zach— “Wow, we’re going to have a fort in the rainforest. Panthers and monkeys and big lizards live in the forest. Lizards are like dinosaurs! Wow- Dinosaur Lizards and panthers. ACK, they are going to get us. We need to hunt them!”
Me— “Now listen, I’m going to build this but you can’t jump on top of it. And don’t go under the part that’s on your bed, you’ll pull out the knot. No, you don’t need to bring XYZ in here.”
Zach thinks, “Everything has rules. Why?”
Me— “I’ll be right back, I need to put your blankets in the washing machine so they’ll be dry by nap.”
Zach— “Okay, but you’ll be back?”
Me— “Yeah, in a minute.”
Elliot thinks, “Panthers eat us? I don’t like fort.”
Zach—10 minutes later—comes out and finds me on the computer. “Mom are you coming?”
Zach— “M—oooo-mmmm. Hey, how about a train track?”
Zach— “Cool, mom is building us a track. I have on my Engineer hat, Elliot you has on a Engineer hat. We will play with trains together.”
Elliot— “Reid (ride) Fass Train!”
Zach thinks, “Hey, wait. She’s leaving to go change the laundry out. Oh no, I can’t believe it! Elliot stepped on the track and broke the bridge piece. I tried and tried to fix it, but it’s too hard for me. “M—oooo-mmmm, Elliot broke the track”. Crap, that’s her angry face. But it’s also her thinking face. Maybe she’s just thinking hard. She fixes it and tells me to “at least try next time” as she leaves to go make our beds. But I DID try first. I just couldn’t do it. I needed help. Now, I’m mad. Mad, mad, mad.”
Zach— “Elliot, give me your train.”
Elliot— “NO. MMMMIIIIINNNNNE.
Zach— “M—oooo-mmmm, Elliot bit me, so I kicked him”
Elliot— “MMM—AAA—MMM—AAA. ‘Ach ‘keeck me!”
Yikes. After dissecting the day more subjectively, I started feeling increasingly guilty. My children…how I have failed you! I have irreversibly tarnished your psyche. I have done one of those things that you will remember…forever. It will be discussed by you and your therapist for years to come!! (I’m only making fun of myself here, because all of that really did occur to me before I got myself under control.)
With most things, give me a some time and I will meander my way back to realism. Was it a bad day? Yes. Was I genuinely regretful? Yes. Did I apologize to my children the next morning and actively participate in their day as I promised? Yes. Did Zach make me feel like an even bigger ass when he informed me—via a finger puppet—that he is a “great guy and my stuff is fun”? Hell, yes.
Am I okay with the fact that I made a series of mistakes? Yeah, mistakes due to bad decisions is unfortunately a recurring theme in my life. I’m rolling my eyes here, while typing “accept the consequences for your actions”, which would play as the theme song for the film on my childhood.
Make mistakes, learn from them, and as Zach said during my apology, “just move on, Mom.”
Thus I have enrolled myself in the Supermom Detoxification Program. A program where Moms can learn how to relax their own expectations and also cut themselves some slack when they screw up. Remembering that if we spend too much time looking at our own mistakes, it makes us look harder at the mistakes of others. We forget to look the successes. I have completed my first step—Acceptance. I encourage all of you to do the same. Detox is no fun by yourself.