It was just not my day yesterday. I was out of coffee, patience and a sense of humor; three things that are vital to surviving a day locked indoors with your children. The day started off well enough. We turned the living room floor into a big bed piled high with fluffy blankets, pillows and their entire stuffed animal family and the kids spent the morning watching movies and playing games. I have GOT this! This week of vacation, being stuck mostly indoors will be a breeze! – this is my smug inner voice. You can just feel the smugness oozing out, can’t you? Grilled cheese sandwiches were requested for lunch and I gladly served them up… a side of yogurt and some fruit. Look at me go! They’re BOTH eating their lunch, no complaints from either one about anything and they’re eating all of it! What success! After lunch the kids played with their legos and trains. Now, there wasn’t perfect harmony all morning, but the disagreements were pretty manageable and the grievances were easily settled.
But as most mothers know, there is a time during the day, usually towards the evening, when without fail all hell breaks loose. I call this the witching hour. At our house it usually hits around 4pm. It’s the time when I’m starting to prep dinner and trying to do one final clean up before Joe gets home and wonders what the hell I did all day for the house to look like it was hit by a frat house party when in reality I’ve been cleaning for what seems like all day. I’m a little sensitive about it, can you tell? Anyway, with Jacob on school break, the witching hour came earlier than usual. And it seemed to hit harder than normal. Oh, and don’t let the name fool you, the witching hour definitely lasts longer than an hour. It lasts through dinner and dies down right around bedtime. Joe and I joke about how we don’t need a clock to know when it’s close to bedtime. We can tell because the boys do a 180 and go from warring with each other to being the best of friends. They never play as well together as they do when it’s time for bed. Go figure.
So, the dreaded witching hour was upon us and my patience was nowhere to be found. I suppose my sense of humor would have come in handy at this point too. I mean, it is slightly amusing that nearly the exact same scenario plays out every.single.day. Now, on to the chaos… poor Noah was a screaming, crying tired mess of a baby who just wanted to take a nap. Liam was intent on making sure this did not happen. Jacob had decided that he’d had enough of Liam and refused to play with him. Jacob is a lot like me, he needs his alone time; time to unwind in a quiet atmosphere. And that’s fine, I totally get that, after all, I thrive on alone time and peace as well. But instead of just retreating to his bedroom and doing his own thing, he kept peeking his head out to get Liam’s attention and then got mad at Liam when he went over to him. Liam was not amused and then only became more intent on getting into the bedroom to mess with Jacob.
And then there was me; the mature, rational, wise mother who put all her goals for the days house keeping aside, stopped checking in with friends on TimeSuck, er, I mean FaceBook, stopped worrying about getting dinner ready and decided to just be in the moment with the kids and meet all of their needs without loosing my cool. Because that’s what the good moms do. I know this because this is what I try so hard to be. To be a good mom. Scratch that. To be a great mom; the best mom; the mom that my kids need and deserve.
Spoiler alert!! That didn’t happen. Now, I’m not blaming it on the absence of my beloved cup (or two) of coffee, but damn-it, that coffee really makes a difference! An argument could be made that it’s not the coffee itself that makes a difference, it’s the ritual of drinking it that makes the difference. So you could substitute a hot cup of tea for the coffee and still feel like you’ve had an appropriate start to your day. But I’ve tried this, and as much as I love a steaming cup of tea, it’s just not the same. Obviously patience and a sense of humor are both under my control. I basically chose not to have either one of those yesterday. I suppose some perspective would have gone a long way as well.
Just like a professional in the workplace keeps up on the latest technologies in their field and seeks to increase their education, I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my parenting. Aside from my horrible parenting moments, I don’t think I’m a horrible mom. But I do know that I could be a better mom. So I read as much as I can about parenting and raising children and I work hard on improving the areas that I know need improvement. Plastered on my fridge is a print out titled 10 Steps to Stop Yelling. I yell when I have lost all patience and I feel like I am not being heard. I hate when I yell and I am really working on it, hence the printout on my fridge. Yesterday, however, during the witching hour, there was a lot of yelling; both from the kids and from me.
It was 4:30, Noah was napping (finally! the poor thing was exhausted) and Jacob and Liam decided that they could be friends again so I took the opportunity to start dinner. Have you tried this recipe yet? It’s delicious and assuming you don’t have to make an impromptu trip to the emergency room (yeah, that happened… keep reading) it’s easy and fast to throw together. Well, you know how waking a sleeping baby is like one of the worst things, ever? And you know how every sound when your baby is sleeping is magnified by a trillion times? Here’s where I could have used some perspective. I just wanted to get dinner ready and I just wanted Noah to keep sleeping and that meant that Liam and Jacob would have to stop their ridiculous game of ‘run out of the bedroom, scream like a banshee and run back into the bedroom’. You’ve not heard of this game? It’s a big hit at my house. After what felt like the billionth time of asking, demanding, nay, begging them to STOP.SCREAMING!! I had had enough. I ran after Liam as he was making a beeline back to the boys’ room and slipped on train, I think it was Edward, and fell on top of Liam. Not only did I fall on top of him, I propelled him right into the door frame, head first. Awesome.
Talk about mom guilt. And it was well deserved. What kind of mother falls on her kid?! I picked him up and held him, thankfully he calmed down easily. And then he just drifted off to sleep, which freaked me out so I called the pediatrician’s office. Since it was nearly 5 and they were closing they had me bring him into the emergency room. It was a hard fall and the fact that he fell sleep so quickly afterwards was worrisome. After I got off the phone with the nurse, Liam sat straight up and laughed his goofball laugh, then laid right back into my arms and went to sleep again. Needless to say, I was freaked out and got him ready to go to the hospital.
It was pretty clear after 30 minutes or so at the hospital that he was fine, but we stayed for a few hours of observation just to be safe. He has two nice bruises on his head but in true Liam fashion, he’s not letting that slow him down. I can pinpoint the exact moment that some perspective would have come in handy. I am also pretty sure that had I used any we would not have had to make a trip to the emergency room last night. Dinner would still been made, just not ready when I wanted it, if only I had just taken a moment to calm down and be thankful that the boys were actually getting along and playing together instead of letting all my small grievances during the day accumulate into one big mom meltdown. Obviously they needed to stop their game of ‘run out of the bedroom, scream like a banshee and run back into the bedroom’ (look for the board game version coming to a store near you!) but maybe if I would have taken a break from chopping up potatoes and gone into their room to help them come up with a new, less obnoxious yet equally as thrilling game, we could have had a nice evening. Not perfect, but nice.
This mom is still learning. Learning to be patient, learning to stop yelling (even when I’m at my wits end), learning to use perspective and my sense of humor (after all, I have a fantastic sense of humor! Why not pull it out of hiding more often?!) and learning to be a better mom. Which is why I know my coffee is so important. Raising three young boys doesn’t leave me with a lot of alone time. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I went somewhere without a kid. And no, the grocery store does not count- besides, it’s not all that often that I go grocery shopping by myself anyway! And that morning coffee is just about the one thing that’s just for me these days. And it may seem silly, but I really do feel more equipped to handle the madness that the day brings when I’ve had my morning cup. Let’s not get carried away, my morning cup of coffee does not magically stop the boys from fighting with each other; it doesn’t make the baby stop fussing when I’m right in the middle of doing something; it doesn’t make it any less annoying to do the 4th load of laundry that day. But it does help.
So there you have it. Great moms drink coffee. Or at least this mom does.
(Hanging out with Liam at the hospital)