Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mommy Needs a Time Out

Today was Addie's first day back at school.  Wednesdays are also my long days--I try to get up at 6 so that I can be at work for a 9am weekly meeting, and then I'm at work until 9pm.  So, Wednesday mornings are a little stressful.  Also, like clockwork, one of the kids always chooses Tuesday nights to wake up every two hours (thank you, Nolie, for last night's rousings), which means I wake up tired to begin with.  Note to readers:  don't go anywhere near highway 58 on Wednesday nights.  I'm a menace to society, driving home.

So, I get up this morning and get Nolie fed and dressed and ready to go.  I also get myself fed and dressed, and prepare the thousand and one bags.  Addie wakes up at around 7, and heads downstairs in her jammies while I'm putting on my make-up.

This is where things went wrong.

See, I always try to get Addie out of her jammies and dressed as soon as she wakes up.  Because if she gets to wandering around and playing in her jammies, she doesn't want to get out of them.  Getting her dressed after she has left her bedroom is about as easy as getting Israel to give up the West Bank.

So, she's on the couch, bundled up under her quilt, and she asks if she can watch a movie.  "Nope!" I cry out cheerily.  "Today's a school day!  Let's get dressed and have breakfast!  Yogurt and blueberries!  Your favorite!"

Next thing I know, Addie has trundled herself back up to her bedroom, crawled under the covers, and is "reading" herself books.

"Addie!  Did you hear me?  We have to get ready for school.  Time to eat breakfast and get dressed," I say, a little less cheerily.

"Just a second."

Tapping of foot.


"Just a second."

"Addie  I'm going to count to three.  One.  Two.  Three."

Time out on the naughty step.  Wailing, gnashing of teeth, crying for daddy (the nice one).  Huge, hiccupy wails, massive streams of drool clinging to the carpeting, her hair, the banister.  I literally pin her down and get her into her clothes, call Eric and have her talk to her about how much fun school will be as I'm cramming yogurt down her throat and putting her ponytail in.  I then get her to the car, still sobbing and thrashing, and buckled into her carseat.

As I'm walking around to the driver's seat, I literally feel myself melting down.  I almost allow myself the luxury of screaming.  Of punching the car door.  Of banging on the car horn and giving Addie the evil eye for making me feel so stressed out.  But then I remind myself that I don't get to do that anymore.  That I'm the parent.  That the only thing making me miserable right now is that things are not happening exactly as I wish and, well, that's life, sistah.

Now that I have some space from the whole maddening intensity of it, I see that I had a few options.  I could have

a) just taken Addie to school in her jammies--they could have changed her into her clothes when she was ready.  My friend Rose pointed out that this is an option, and though it goes against my control-freak nature, it definitely would have put the ball in Addie's court and not made the whole thing about me being inconvenienced. 

b) sat down with Addie in my lap, and talked to her about what a great day she was going to have, and how much fun school would be when she got there, and how proud I was of her for getting up all by herself.  Taking these few minutes out from rushing around like a freakshow would probably have alleviated a lot of stress later, and I bet there would have been more compliance.

c) prepared better by making up a "getting ready for school" chart in which things like eating breakfast, brushing teeth and hair, and getting dressed are represented pictorially, reminding her of her role in getting ready for the day.

Okay, so I'm kidding about the last one.  I'm not that Supernanny, for Christ's sake.  But options a and b don't sound bad.  Definitely preferable to what actually happened, to almost losing it over no big deal.

What's hard about all of this is that I just feel so freaking squeezed all the time that it doesn't occur to me to just slow down for a few minutes and give my kids the attention they need in those moments.  I mean, this whole thing doesn't sound like that big of a deal, right?  But these moments are the ones that make me think I'm not that interested in being a working mom.  That I'm struggling and fighting too much to meet all expectations, and that I'm missing the boat with the kids.  I know I wouldn't be happy just staying home all the time, and I know these have just been tough weeks.  But lots of weeks are tough.  Something's got to give, and maybe my sanity shouldn't be it. 

I'm going to think about this.  There must be some happier middle ground.  Some hard choices may have to be made.


 (Don't worry Nolie.  We're keeping you.  I just may need to cut back at work).


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