My typical method for coping with being home with children all summer is to simply not be home. Don’t get me wrong, I am a homebody at heart but I find that keeping us all out of the house as much as possible is best for everyone’s mood. Out in the world, either at the museum, pool or the river, I find that I am more present with my kids. I can interact with them without being distracted by other things that I think I should be doing. No work, no household chores, no Facebook or blogs – just my children and me.
It sounds so perfectly serene, doesn’t it? Except lately, each outing seems to end with my turning into that mom that is pitied, judged or held up as an example. Take for instance, our last trip to the Museum of Life and Science. Dean was bitten by what he described as a “small black spider” and his hand instantly began to swell. He was in pain and we were the furthest point from the car that we could be so I rounded up my crew and we began to walk back to a place where we could get ice. Not knowing if he had a Black Widow bite or something worse, I was worried and getting frustrated with Logan who was not cooperating. Dean walked ahead and then was quickly out of my sight. When we reached the spot I had assumed he would go, there was no Dean. We had to go find him. Jess, however, had the idea that we would stop and eat at the café and would not be consoled. I was trying to stay calm but patient I was not. We were all hot, hungry and tired. I had to keep walking with a six year old having a tantrum and a two year old having a sit-in on the middle of the sidewalk.
So I was shouting because I had one child not moving and too big and wet from water play to be carried, one child sobbing and walking away from me in his anger, and my oldest nowhere to be seen. And people were looking. I had one mom ask Logan where his mommy was and a staff person ask me if the crying boy belonged to me. When Dean caught up with me, I yelled, “Where were you?!” I think part of me wanted to be loud about it because I wanted everyone to know that I was scared - that I had good reason to be crabby with my kids. So, yeah, I’m that mom.
Last week while Dean was at camp, I needed just a few things from the grocery store. I took the youngest two into Whole Foods since we were in that neighborhood. We started off so well. Jess wanted to push the carriage and was navigating the tiny aisles full of obstacles carefully. Logan chose some peaches that he literally chucked into the cart. I winced at that bruising fruit and suggested we put the peaches in a bag since throwing them hurts them and makes them yucky. Logan chose a few more and carefully placed them in the bag. We moved on. By the time we found the milk, I was less patient and just wanted our errand to be finished. The quick stop was turning into a long, drawn-out affair and I was no longer interested in quietly using my “nice words.” As I was trying to choose the coffee, firmly hold Logan in place in the carriage so he wouldn’t jump (again) and field Jess’ relentless stream of questions, I became increasingly snappish. It was time to leave whether or not we had everything we needed. In the checkout lane, a cashier suggested that I take the kids shopping at Super Wal-Mart instead. “Excuse me?” I said. Perhaps I didn’t hear him correctly. He repeated himself adding, “If that is how they are going to behave…” I paid for my items and left the store – but not before accidentally ramming the cart into Logan’s face. I do so like to make an exit scene. Yeah, I’m that mom.
I’m the mom who goes somewhere with her kids and then when they leave, everyone else knows her children’s names. I’m the mom who is constantly trying to choose between disciplining a child and letting him run amok. I’m the mom who has to physically pull her child out of the pool because he doesn’t want to leave. I’m the mom you hear hissing through clenched teeth, “You have until I count to three…” Luckily, no one has questioned what happens on three. We’ve never had to find out. I’m the mom who handles her children’s behaviors, no matter what scene ensues.
I’m the mom who has many tools in her toolbox to manage her children. I’m the mom who sometimes runs out of tools. I’m the mom who sometimes gets exhausted using the rights words all the time and making a game out of basic tasks. I’m the mom who sometimes just needs her kids to get into the damn car seat already for the luvaGod.
I’m the mom who is sleep deprived and looks it. And I’m the mom who might need her anti-depressant dose increased and her caffeine dose decreased. I’m the mom who needs your compassion and understanding. I might welcome a sympathetic smile rather than your judgmental and snide remarks. I’m that mom and I’m every other mom.
I’m the mom who calls the store manager when she gets home to complain about the cashier’s rude comments and threatens a boycott on behalf of all moms. (You with me?) I’m the mom who can say her children are difficult but will take offense if someone else says it because I am their mom. I live with them. I am the mom raising them. And I’m the mom who loves them. I am well aware of their faults – and I love them anyway.
I’m not the mom that I thought I’d be. Sometimes I have it all together and lots of times, I just don’t. But my kids aren’t the kids I thought they would be either. I’m trying. And I know they are too. And 99% of the time, I wouldn’t change a thing. But you’ll understand if you don’t see me shopping at Whole Foods for a while, won’t you?
This is a Triangle Mamas original post posted by Susie. Susie occasionally blogs about the joys and mishaps of being a mom to three boys at At Home With Me when she is not busy being humiliated by pretentious store clerks.