I lost it this morning. Really lost it.
After the kids were all dressed for school, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, backpacks packed, I turned on the TV. I have a rule that the kids can only watch certain channels. There is so much crap on TV – shows geared towards teens and preteens, shows that showcase kids calling other people “idiot” and “stupid” and generally behaving obnoxiously – and in all seriousness, I have a hard enough time keeping my kids under control without exposing them to those kinds of influences and role models. So the rule is, Mom sets the channel, and you don’t change it without permission. Annabelle never, ever, ever sticks to this rule. The moment I walk out of the room, she’s got the remote in her hand, channel-surfing, looking for some obnoxious show featuring smart-ass teenagers. It happened this morning. Within thirty seconds of my turning the TV on to Nick Jr. – really for Finn – Annabelle is changing the channel. “Leave the TV alone, Annabelle,” I said. I left the room. A few minutes later, on my way to the kitchen, I saw her there, remote in hand, channel surfing again. And I lost it.
Screaming and yelling ensued. Swearing. “I’VE TOLD YOU A THOUSAND TIMES TO LEAVE THE TV ALONE!!” I shouted. “GO TO YOUR ROOM! GO SIT IN YOUR ROOM UNTIL IT’S TIME TO LEAVE FOR SCHOOL. NOW!!!” She just stood there staring at me, not moving a muscle. “GO!!” I yelled. All the kids froze in their tracks while I chased – literally chased – Annabelle into her room. She beat me by a half a second and locked the door against me. Locked the door! “I’m going to kill her!” I muttered. “MOM! Are you really going to kill Annabelle? Did you really just say that?!” Daisy shrieked. “OPEN THIS GODDAMN DOOR!” I yelled. Annabelle unlocked the door. “Don’t you ever lock the door against me again! Do you hear me?!” I yelled at her.
Michael’s trying to calm me. “Leave me alone!” I yelled at him. “I do EVERYTHING for you people – including YOU! – and you all treat me like shit! Every last one of you!”
I know. All this over an eight-year old changing the channel on the TV. But really, of course it’s not just about that. That was just the straw that broke the camel’s back this morning. It was my eight-year old changing the channel after I told her not to – again. It was dealing with Finn tantruming his way through breakfast – again. It was Joey throwing a dramatic tantrum and copping a major attitude last night when I said no, he could not have an Instagram account (he’s ten, for crying out loud!). It’s the bickering and tattling all the time. It’s the “I want, I want, I want” all the time, and the lack of willingness to do much of anything I ask. Ask somebody to set the table for dinner? Tell them to clean up their room? Oh myGOD! You would think I’m asking them to pull their own fingernails out! It’s my husband being gone so much of the time and me feeling utterly alone, like I’m dealing with all of this single handedly.
I’m not excusing my losing it this morning. I’m ashamed. I wish I held it together better, I really, really do. And lest I start to sound like my own mother who seemed to believe that her kids were responsible for her happiness/unhappiness but she, the adult, was not responsible for theirs, let me just say that I know kids are kids, they don’t actually mean anything personal by their behavior – I know that, I really do.
Sometimes motherhood just feels like a big, fat Fuck You, though. This is why people say that motherhood is a hard job. Not because it’s especially intellectually challenging or physically demanding – I mean it is those things, but there are certainly other pursuits that require for far more intellectual and/or physical output than motherhood. Not because it requires a great deal of bravery – of course, it does call for that, too, but certainly not as much as being a soldier or a police officer, for instance. No, it’s not those things. It’s because it’s so fucking emotionally taxing. It’s because it’s so incredibly thankless so much of the time. It’s because I feel like I’ve sacrificed so much of myself for them, and they don’t appreciate it. It’s because I do and do and do for them, constantly, and it often seems like all I get in return is complaining that it’s not enough – or just outright ignored. I’m not looking for accolades or awards or fanfare. I’m not even looking for “thank you.” It would just be nice to get a little cooperation. A little respect for the rules – rules which aren’t onerous or unreasonable for crap’s sake!
And, you know, it’s hard to admit these things. Everyone wants to talk about how great motherhood is, how fulfilling it is. Sometimes it is. And often, it’s not. I’m not even sure why I’m writing about it this morning – opening myself up to criticism and judgment, exposing the flaws in the pretty picture. I don’t want to feel alone, I guess.
After I got back from dropping the kids off at school this morning, I discovered that Annabelle had left her lunch at home. Who do you think packed the baby and Finn back into the truck to drive her lunch to school?
Because that’s what moms do.