We have two pet ducks. My children love them very much and take great care of them. However, the deal was when we got them a year ago I would buy the food, hay, and any other equipment they needed to live their best life — they each have their own pool — but my teenagers had to do the work.
By that, I meant cleaning up after them, feeding them, collecting their eggs, and making sure they always had fresh water to dunk their heads in because that’s a necessity for ducks.
The cleaning up after them part hasn’t gone so well. Who knew ducks could be so messy?
One, they like to roam free in our yard which is fine. I can deal with the holes they dig because they eat so many mosquitoes and ticks.
But, those ducks know where their food comes from and they like to waddle up on the front porch and sit there like two loaves of bread rising in a pan.
Thing is, ducks squirt out baseball-sized, splattery poops about every fifteen minutes. That’s where I draw the line. I’m not going to have a front porch covered in duck poo. So, when I noticed my kids weren’t cleaning up skid marks on the porch (yet still somehow had time to make outfits for the ducks), I said they had to keep them off the front porch.
Then, I noticed they were using my nice, white dishes to feed their feathery friends. I purchased some duck feeders and waterers for that job, but apparently they “like the sound” of porcelain. So, when I found my favorite bowl I’ve had for years in the damn coop, cracked and filled with shit, I lost it on my kids.
Like, one of those blowouts where you are hoarse for a few hours afterwards because you started on a yelling spree and you couldn’t stop.
My kids seem to think I’m a ticking time bomb. There are days I wonder if all they hear is yelling and I get really upset with myself.
But, then I realize that I’ve asked them nicely so many times over this past year to not use my favorite mug to feed the ducks. I asked them to clean up the crap that gets smeared all over the porch and most of the time they “forget.”
I have asked them in a calm way. I’ve asked them in a joking way. I’ve told them we will go out for ice cream if they clean up the mess. If there’s something they want me to buy for them I’ve said, “Not until you start cleaning up after the ducks better.”
This is just one example, of course. We go round and round with them keeping their rooms somewhat livable, handing in their homework on time, remembering to take out the trash and fold their laundry.
As moms, we all know when our limit is reached. When we can’t hold it in anymore because we have asked our family to pull their own weight and clean up after themselves in a normal tone while being ignored so many times, we can’t take it anymore.
So we yell.
We lose it.
We say all the things that we’ve been bottling up inside and holding in. And we say them loudly.
We let them know we feel invisible, taken for granted, and like we are just here to meet their needs — and we can’t watch them disrespect us, or their surroundings, anymore.
I lost it that day in a big way. My kids were mad at me, thought I was horrible, and fled to their rooms. It was one of those times I needed a lot of time to cool off before I even saw one of them again. That’s a hard thing to admit as a mom, but we’ve all been there.
Then, they came down one by one.
My son went out and scrubbed the front porch and took out the garbage.
They all went out and cleaned up the random dishes they’d brought out to the coop.
They cleaned their rooms.
Then, we all went to get a shake without talking the entire way.
After some time (and sugar) we were able to find our way back to each other.
Sometimes it takes a higher octave to get our kids to straighten up and act appropriately. I’m not afraid to raise my voice. I don’t feel like an unfit parent when I lose it on my children because the thing I’ve asked them to do five times doesn’t get done.
I hate that it has to get to that point, but in our house that’s just the way it is.
There are times I feel guilty for losing it on my kids. But I still continue to do it when I feel unseen and ignored. I can feel guilty but not regret it because it works, dammit, and sometimes that’s the only thing that does.