It’s one thing for me to tell you all that I’m crazy.
It’s another thing entirely to have people witness it in real time.
There’s an unwritten rule where I work that goes something like this – never put your words into writing, then they can’t come back to bite you. Once you write it down, there is proof that you said it. Otherwise, it’s simply your word against someone else’s.
While that may be true, watching my craziness in action will take that to a whole different level. It’s more like a spectator sport – so much more exciting to watch in person than to read about online or in the paper. You can see the play-by-play as it happens!
I want to offer congratulations to my extended family for getting to witness my craziness first-hand this past weekend. Or maybe I should give my apologies instead. . . .
My father belongs to a hunting cabin in the remote Pennsylvania mountain town of Renovo. For as long as I can remember we made a weekend trip every year during the summer with my Dad’s cousin and his kids. Up until I graduated high school, we were like one big family. Those kids were like my siblings, their parents like my second set.
Once we “kids” became adults, those trips fell by the wayside and for many years, I barely spoke to any of them. However, since the birth of our own children, the families have begun seeing more of each other and spending more time together. We’ve managed to spend a weekend at the cabin together for the past three summers.
While it’s been fun to see them again, it’s a whole new ball game when I’ve got two small children to run after. This year we traveled with a 5 year old, a 4 year old and a 20 month old. The four and five year old play well together and are mostly self sufficient. Despite the constant running and shrieking and occasional arguments over the proper way to play with a tractor :-p , having them along is a great way to remember the good times I had as a kid.
However, my “baby” is the kink in this idyllic little tale. She’s smart as a whip and wants to do everything her big sister does. She’s pretty good at keeping up, for the most part. It’s the times when you need to tell her no that the stuff hits the fan.
She throws world-class temper-tantrums, can yell loud enough to make you wince, and isn’t afraid to ignore or defy your instructions. My family got to see all this in 3-D this weekend. They had a good laugh when she started climbing the stairs to the second floor and I told her I would count to three before I spanked her butt. I got to two and she promptly turned to look at me, saying, “Three. . . four. . .” and then kept on climbing. All with a smile.
I have to admit, I laughed too, but she still got her rear end spanked.
It wasn’t this one little incident that sent me over the edge. It was two days filled with these kinds of incidents and the feeling that I need to constantly be hovering over or following her to make sure she doesn’t hurt herself or do something gross, like lick the toilets! While I love my kids, I also love to sit down every now and then.
The “Monster Mommy” persona took over as we were getting ready to leave Sunday. I managed to keep my cool (for the most part) all weekend, even through the repacking of our bags and the car. My family so graciously kept an eye on the children while my husband and I made countless trips out to the car (in the rain!) to pack up our stuff. It was that moment when we were done and I had the silly thought to sit down for a minute that I heard this: “Okay, kids, let’s go out. No playing in the bathroom.”
My ears instantly perked up and I scanned the room, watching my cousin emerge from the bathroom with my five-year-old in tow. My youngest was nowhere to be found and I knew immediately that she was still in the bathroom, most likely licking the toilets.
One would think that after spending the weekend with her, my family would have realized you can’t just tell Ella something and expect her to do it. No, you have to watch her, repeat yourself, and then drag her away kicking and screaming.
So, I marched over to the bathroom, praying I wouldn’t see what I knew I would. Sure enough, there she stood, reaching into the toilet bowl.
I lost it. Who exactly I was mad at, I’m not sure. Ella, for one, because she’s got to get into EVERYTHING! My cousin, for walking away and leaving her unattended in the bathroom. Myself, for being a bad mom and not keeping better track of my kids.
Doesn’t matter. I yelled at Ella, snatched her up and made a beeline for some soap to wash all the icky potty germs from her hands before she stuck them in her mouth. Because you know she would!
This was accompanied by some grumblings to anyone who could hear me that it is NOT acceptable to leave Ella unattended, especially in a bathroom!
I got some funny looks, mostly of the kind that said, “Why are you acting like a nut job?”
Because my kids drive me nuts! Because I’ve spent the last five and a half years doing nothing but cleaning up messes and doling out instructions only to be ignored by my children.
I don’t enjoy cleaning. I don’t enjoy repeating myself endlessly. I don’t enjoy being ignored.
Of course, by the time I got home, I felt like the bad guy because I had lost my temper. I feel like they all looked at me like I was a terrible mother and they were thankful we were going home because they didn’t want to put up with me any longer.
I get that feeling a lot, like I’m a failure at being a Mom.
You know what? Screw that!
The bottom line is, I am who I am. I bring certain strengths and weaknesses to the table and they are going to be different than everyone else’s. I reach the end of my limits much sooner than some people do and I expect more of my extremely intelligent children than other’s do.
I used to be that person who judged other Moms – thinking how they just needed to do things this way or that, that they just needed to have more patience or give more hugs.
Then I had kids.
I challenge anyone to spend twenty-four hours with my kids. Then, if you want to tell me how to be a mother, go right ahead.
My point for all you other Moms out there who struggle with the image of being a “good mommy” – God made you to be exactly who you are and he doesn’t want you to be anyone else.
He knows our weaknesses, because he gave them to us. It’s when we embrace them and ask Him to use us anyway that we’re set free.
One of my biggest weaknesses is impatience. Ask anyone who’s ever met me.
Another is my temper. I have a short fuse and my kids are pros at lighting it.
That’s why when I rock my baby to sleep at night, my prayers usually go something like this – “Lord, please don’t let me screw my kids up. Help them to understand that I’m trying and that I love them.”
No one is perfect, so don’t think you need to be. Know you’re weaknesses, but don’t be defeated by them. Own up to them, but don’t be judged by them.
You’ve got plenty of strengths too. God can and will use them both.
To my family – I’m sorry you had to witness Monster Mommy. I’m not sorry for who I am. Hopefully you’ll love me anyway.