We all have them, right? Tell me we all have those days – when we just screw up magnificently. Everything seems to go wrong, and the kids are wretched, and you start to have that feeling that maybe you are really, really messing up this whole parenting thing, and your kids are growing up to be disrespectful, snarky, rude and it’s pretty much your fault for not teaching them right from the beginning.
Today was such a day.
Sam has had some pretty severe and intense anxiety in the past. And for the most part, it’s behind him. He’s tackled pretty much every hurdle, he’s a dream to drop off at school, and genuinely loves going. Has a thousand friends and bops around the playground like he’s the mayor, greeting everyone. Even religious school, which up until last Wednesday was OUT OF THE QUESTION. No way in hell was he going to go, and any attempt to get him there inevitably resulted in tears and rage (on pretty much everyone’s part). But it’s a new year, and on the first day earlier this week, he ran up to the classroom with no hesitation. It was glorious – and I naively assumed that all that anxiety crap was over and done with, and henceforth, my parenting life would be blissful.
So when he refused to go this morning – I didn’t react well. Too much baggage, I can only surmise that I did a weird PTSD thing, because the anxiety-ridden temper tantrums had been so challenging, the idea that we were reverting back to them was horrifying. So instead of being a relaxed, calm mom – I reacted exactly they way you should not react – which was to get furious at him, banish him to his room, and then start yelling at Jessie. I didn’t actually start yelling at Jessie, I just warned her not to start complaining because I was already furious. Oddly enough, this did nothing to ensure her compliance – it just made her tense, hypersensitive and stressed. Which yada yada yada… ended up with both of us crying. Did I mention that Sam was still sobbing in his room?
We trudged through religious school, leaving early so that I could get Marc to work. This had the added bonus of allowing Jessie to miss the dreaded combo service that she hates during the last hour of school. I came home, dropped off some kids, picked up Marc and brought him to work. I tried to compensate for the unbelievably crappy morning with ice cream (which, I know, doesn’t really scream out “GREAT MOTHERING”, but that’s where I was…)
I came home, to find the house in shambles, and three kids bopping around, content in the filth. This did nothing to improve my mood. I asked nicely, several times, for each kid to pick a room and start picking up – and when that elicited no response, I reverted back to hollering at them.
I don’t mind yelling. I come from a long line of loud, dramatic women, and we all yell. I do mind yelling when it’s ALL I do. When asking in a nice voice results in nothing, and demanding in a slightly less nice voice gets a vague attempt but no real effort in completing the assigned task. I hate that yelling works. I hate that it took my yelling to get the living room picked up and for the younger two to stop trying to kill each other.
Eventually, we all retreated to our own rooms, and things calmed down. I took a quiet minute with each of the kids, and talked about what happened earlier, and why I yelled, and why on earth didn’t they just do what I asked the first damn time I asked. I didn’t get any satisfactory responses – because there really aren’t any good ways to say “I just didn’t feel like picking up my shoes and not screaming at my sister.” But I made lunch, and I baked a cake. I even relented enough let Sammy have a friend over, and we’ll all go to a playdate at the playground in a few minutes and try and end the day on a good note.
Some days, Shabbat Shalom is more of a goal than actuality.