School is back today and I thought that it would welcome back with it a sense of order and routine, a feeling of relief as my mornings become somewhat my own again. Instead we all woke up on the wrong side of the bed and I just felt overwhelmed with life and the neediness of two kids who don’t feel like getting back into the swing of things. My mantra “Holidays can’t last forever guys, it’s back to school” was repeated more times than our dreaded alarm’s snooze button. Blimey that’s a sound I’m going to have to get used to agin.
Of course this made my 5 year-old, who in many ways has matured so much over the last while, turn into the fragile little boy that comes out when life is too much for him and he cried and cried for what felt like eternity over having to get out of his new dinosaur onesie and get dressed for school. I had been up all night with a teething baby and sore toe (more about that later) and so I had little comfort to offer him in his time of need. If anything I felt resentful – here I was on my hands and knees barefoot and freezing my tootsies off because I couldn’t wear my slippers, trying to help him get dressed on three hours of broken sleep, while he had a frothy about it being too cold, yet had just experienced the luxury of 12 hours of glorious sleep. God, if only he knew.
I usually try to teach my children that it’s mind over matter in situations like this. Every “I don’t want to go to school, I hate school” is usefully met with “You love it when you are there, sometimes you don’t like it initially but once you warm up, you will enjoy being with your friends! Try be positive my boy”. I try to help them adjust their attitudes to handle situations with more ease and less anxiety.
However it would appear that the person in desperate need of an attitude adjustment over here this morning is me. Yup good old me. I seem to have forgotten that I’m the parent and that despite my horrendous mood due lack of sleep, I needed to be the adult and be there for my kids. I can’t help but wonder what kind of message I’m sending my kids when I teach them not to have tantrums or react to things negatively when in actual fact, it’s precisely what I was doing.
I woke up pissed off with life, feeling like today was the last day on earth I needed to be needed. I felt overwhelmed with the responsibility of ensuring the boys were looked after – physically with food and clothing and emotionally with love, sympathy and understanding. Instead of meeting their emotional needs and helping them make sense of their inner chaos, I threw my own toys (slamming bread bins, throwing their clothes on the floor telling them to get dressed and just generally acting like a despicable child.) and made them feel like they were being unreasonable. Perhaps they were being unreasonable, but surely in my seven years of parenting experience I have come to know that this is exactly how kids behave from time to time?
And yes I guess moms are allowed to act unreasonably too sometimes. I know that. I know that my children don’t judge me for the times when I’m human and feel overwhelmed and frustrated with their demands but I don’t want my children to feel like they are a burden or too much for me, ever. Never mind on the first day back at school where routines and emotions are out of whack and life feels unfair. I know that’s how life felt for me today.
And for no apparent reason. It just did.
I didn’t want to face the music. I didn’t want to be a parent. I didn’t want to make breakfast (unless it was for myself to eat in bed). I didn’t want to reason with children or pack school lunches or ask how they were feeling. I didn’t want to be a mom. It’s that simple.
Of course I eventually broke down in tears myself and had the chance to talk to them about it, but It’s not a great place to find yourself in on the first day of a new term.
I can’t train them to practice the art of mind-over-matter when I can barely master it myself. I guess it’s hard on close to no sleep, but I need to put on my big mama panties in times like this and remember that they need me for comfort and guidance. I may feel the weight of all the practical things become too much for my tired brain to comprehend: I mean putting on a uniform more complicated than a corporate businessman’s suit on a seven year old? For the love of sanity WHY??? And fighting over shoes that have gotten to tight in three weeks, while the others have somehow grown a size? God give me strength. But I need to dig deep, be the grown up, hold it together woman! At least until they have left goodbye and their peanut butter sandwich is safety in their backpacks. (I really took it out on that poor innocent sammie! )
I know it’s ok to feel overwhelmed by their needs, but I hate feeling like I can’t meet their emotional ones. I hate feeling like they can’t trust me to give them comfort and reassurance. I always want to be their safe place. I always want them to know that they can find comfort and solitude in me. Their mama!!
Flip guys today was a bad one. I’m sitting here wondering if they are ok and if they will always remember the times I seem to get it so wrong. I hope not. Gosh with all my might I hope not.
Noah and Brody when/if you ever read this one day I hope these stories are not being recounted on your therapists couch one day. I hope you know, with every fibre in your beings how much I loved you as little people and how proud I am of you. Maybe you are a parent now, and in that case you will know, that no amount of stress, responsibility, effort and care you require, I couldn’t love you any more than the air I breathe. Go easy on me xxxx