It was Monday.
My husband and I had just got back from a 3-night camping trip while our kids stayed at Grandma and Grandpa’s. We had loads of laundry piled up around the house, camping gear piled up outside, a rusty griddle sitting in the sink.
We’re trying to sell our house, so it’s frowned upon to have piles of laundry, piles of camping gear and certainly not a rusty griddle sitting in the sink. I don’t think prospective buyers want to see our literal dirty laundry.
Our cat was angry that we left and peed all over our bed, down to the mattress. Not only did I sleep in a tent for 3 nights, but I got to come home and sleep on the couch for 2 nights. I couldn’t make our bed either, further fueling my anxiety that someone was going to come in and want to see our house.
The kids had a serious readjustment period coming back from Grandma and Grandpa’s, not to mention a possible sugar detox. They are normally very busy boys on a good day, but they were just plain naughty. Like “Play out in the middle of the street, climb the highest shelves, kick your brother in the face” naughty. They fought and wrestled and punched and fought and kicked. They couldn’t get along to save their life, but refused to leave each other alone.
I just couldn’t deep-breathe my way through it. I was dangling on the precipice of sanity. Midway through the morning, I finally gave up and put on an episode of Clifford. We all sat on the couch, ate snacks and just hung out. I rarely just sit down and watch a cartoon with the kids, but I just couldn’t handle it anymore. About 2.5 seconds into the show, someone punched someone else. I can’t even remember who. It might have been me punching myself in the face. What was happening?
I finally gave in to the fact that I probably wasn’t going to make it through this day alone. If I succumbed to my foolish pride, somebody wasn’t going to survive. I tried to hide in the pantry, but the kids chased me down and screamed at each other for some extremely terrible offense I’m sure. It felt like nails on a chalkboard.
I grabbed my phone, ran to the bathroom, locked the door and called Emilie, praying she would answer. She picked up, I let fly a few choice words and then burst into tears. In a five minute conversation, she calmed me down, told me to breathe, told me to break up the day in 30 minute increments and told me to pour a glass of wine (kidding). She finally got me to admit that keeping the house show-ready was pushing me over the edge and I was taking it out on and rubbing off on the kids.
I promise you that this conversation didn’t solve all my problems. I wasn’t magically more patient, but I was a slightly better version of the Troll Mama I had become that day.
Having a focused conversation with a trusted friend helped me realize that I can’t do this alone. This was truly one of those “It takes a village” moments. I don’t know why so many of us feel that we have to do it alone or that asking for help will make us appear weak. I’ve learned that putting myself out there, admitting my faults, admitting my weaknesses, admitting when I just can’t figure out this chess match we like to call parenting, actually makes me a BETTER mother.
So what did we do? We muddled through. We went outside for a few minutes. We packed up and went to the store for something we didn’t even need. I finally gave in and let them wrestle to their heart’s content, I just told them they had to do it while I was sitting there so I could step in before someone lost an eye. The laundry eventually got done (a week later). The griddle was finally cleaned after I hid it in the bathtub we never use for a week.
Why am I sharing? Heck, I don’t know. I just want you to know that you’re not alone. Are you locked in the bathroom while reading this? Good for you. I think in this culture of social media overload, we tend to have a much rosier view of the lives of others. We start to think every other mother out there is baking homemade treats everyday, reading to their children for hours, all while dressed in their finest and actually having their hair done.
Share with us. How do you get through challenging days? I’m so lucky to have good friends who will listen, empathize and then bust my chops if I’m being trying to do too many things at once.
Disclaimer: No children were harmed in the writing of this post or while I was holed up in the bathroom. They were doing really sweet things like pulling all the sheets off the bed, sneaking the last graham cracker from the pantry and sword fighting with golf clubs.