When it comes to motherhood, it’s not the big things that make you crazy. It’s the little things—the micro-annoyances—that get you. Alone, none of these things are all that bad, but their effects are cumulative. Like water droplets repeatedly wearing down solid rock, micro-annoyances wear down a mother’s psyche bit by bit.
Case in point: When your 4-year-old says, “Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama,” 273 times in a row. Right?! Did just thinking about that make you twitch a little? Yeah, me too.
I’ve been at this parenting thing for 15 years now, and I’m convinced that micro-annoyances are the primary things that wear you down as a mother. And there are a lot of them.
Sometimes it’s something as simple as a single word repeated over and over and over again. When your first kid starts asking “Why?” you feel so proud that your progeny is exhibiting critical thinking skills (“She’s so advanced!”). Then you have your 175th conversation like this:
“Mama, can I have a cookie?”
“Not now, sweetie.”
“Because we’re about to eat dinner.”
“Because it’s almost dinnertime.”
“Because it’s almost 6 o’clock.”
“Because that’s what time it is.”
Oh, for the love. Why? Why? Why? Drip. Drip. Drip.
Sometimes it’s in the repetition of the things kids say (“Mama, guess what? Mama, guess what? Mama…guess what?”) and sometimes it’s the repetition of things you say (“Please take your finger out of your nose. Please take your finger out of your nose. Please take your finger out of your nose“).
Sometimes it’s not what they say, but the eardrum-rupturing volume at which they say it. Lord Almighty, children can be loud. “Child, I am sitting exactly 2 feet away from you—you do not have to yell. Stop yelling, please. Seriously, you’re still yelling. No more yelling! Stop yelling!!!”
Sometimes it’s when they say things that actually aren’t things. I know my kids are not the only ones who make random, annoying noises on a fairly constant basis. Sometimes I swear kids are allergic to being quiet. It’s like they all signed an agreement when they turned 2 that said, “All silence must be destroyed at all costs.”
Sometimes a micro-annoyance is not what our beloved offspring say or do, but rather what they don’t say or do. Like when they blatantly ignore all pleasant requests and commands and only listen when you blow your top and spew your mental marbles all over the room, or when they spend an hour and a half “cleaning” their messy room and pick up exactly two things. Years of this is enough to make you lose your ever-loving mind.
How about the 431st time you have to tell your preschooler to take his hand out of his pants?
Or the 247th time you have to tell a kid to stop whining?
Or the 573rd time you have to beg a child to effing go to sleep?
Or the 329th time you have to tell them to pick up their wrappers because the table/couch/counter/bedroom floor is not a garbage can?
I could list micro-annoyances all day long: refusing to share, forgetting to wash hands, not putting dirty clothes in the hamper, putting clean clothes in the hamper because they left them on their bedroom floor and can’t remember whether or not they are dirty, complaining about their food, wiping their nose on your clothes, waking you up in the middle of the night, losing their shoes, bawling over homework.
There are just so many things. They’re not a big deal when they come one at a time on occasion, but over time, with several children, these micro-annoyances result in grey hair, chocolate binges, and an occasional urge to flee to a deserted island all alone.
Naturally, we all knew about this going into motherhood, but you can’t really prepare for the reality of the regular bombardment of annoyance that parenting entails. Don’t get me wrong—I adore my children and enjoy being around them 95 percent of the time. But that 5% is no joke. It builds up, with interest.
I’ve learned to imagine surrounding myself with a force field that repels any micro-annoyance that gets thrown my way. It’s like the motherhood version of “I’m rubber and you’re glue….” If I didn’t give myself some sort of mental barrier, I think those little things might do me in.
It’s a good thing kids are so darned cute.