One of the kids' favorite read alouds is My No No No Day by Rebecca Patterson because it so honestly recounts what a 'Hard Day' looks like. We love at the end the poor Mom (who looks so exhausted as soon early as breakfast) explains to Bella that everyone gets hard days sometimes but perhaps tomorrow she'll be more cheerful. Spoiler alert: tomorrow she is!
The thing is, this week, when one child has a more cheerful tomorrow, the other is having a 'Hard Day.' Yesterday was this poor, exhausted (23 week pregnant!) Mum's tipping point. We were on our way to the playground when a battle of epic screaming erupted in the backseat that Gem wanted her window down and Grey wanted all the windows up. We talk a lot about compromises so Gem and I got to keep our windows down (as it was 80 degrees outside) and Grey would get Daddy's jacket to cover up with. Oh Hell No. That was just not going to fly with my normally very sweet, mature for his age, blessed son.
As he furiously belt out scream after scream of "Gemmi's window up!" I pulled over to the side of the road and told him I would wait to go to the playground until he calmed down. Calm down, he did not. And after about five minutes of honestly contemplating what kind of crap mother has a child who endlessly screams about something so ridiculous, I broke. We TURNED AROUND AND WENT HOME. I was not having that shit, my friends.
Grey screamed more and louder upon realizing we were no longer going to the playground while Gem asked confused, 'playground, mumma?' I got them both in the house, Grey threw himself on the floor in a total tantrum in the dining room while I held Gem and told her she was being such a good girl and that maybe we could go to the playground later after we all try our best.
Gem got the ipad and I took Grey up to his bed and laid down beside him and rubbed his back while he continued to scream, and then cry, and then whine, and then looked up and said, "Happy now."
This did not make me feel better. As we continued our day post meltdown at 10:30am - a WHOLE DAY LEFT TO GO (!) my mind wheeled with possible reasons of why my kids were having such hard days this week.
|that's peanut butter all over them.|
Maybe I'm too lenient?
Maybe I'm too harsh?
Maybe I don't play enough with them?
Maybe they don't play enough independently?
Maybe I'm yelling too much?
Maybe they need to be more afraid of me; yell more! louder!?
Maybe I'm not meeting their needs for attention? love? holding them? alone time?
Maybe I'm not taking good enough care of myself and I'm overly tired? stressed?
Maybe they need more stimulation; toys? trips out of the house?
Maybe they are too spoiled and expect to just get everything. Go outside & play in the dirt like I did, children?!
When recounting all of this to Brandon he responded, "You're a great Mom. Why can't you just chalk it up to a shit week instead of second guessing everything you do?"
Well, wouldn't that be a concept...but tis not the ways of Mommas, amirite?
I read an article yesterday too that contributed to my mom guilt spiral of despair about a woman who left her child in the car to run into the store for 5 minutes. I read it first because I related, I've done that; left my kids in the car to run into the post office or the local deli for milk. I know that it's wrong (even though I myself was left in the car many times, once even my sister and I put the car in reverse and we drifted down the parking lot a ways until popping it back into park; trying to pretend like the car hadn't moved at all when our Mom came out and gave us a good talking to - sorry Mum! Kayla did it!), but I've still left them in the car because of a trillion contributing factors of the day that led up to that moment. Just like every single bad or great decision I make as a Mum, it comes down to assessing the risk/benefit and deciding how to get our entire family through any one thing as best as possible at any given time.
The thing that struck a nerve about this article was not that she made an bad impulse choice as a mom in the heat of the moment...but because a bystander videotaped the scene from the parking lot. If the bystander thought the child was in danger - you'd think they would have spoken to the mom, certainly embarrassed her and everyone's day would have moved on. But the bystander called the police. long story short, the mom was arrested, taken to court for endangering a minor and received 100 hours of community service and parenting classes. She was told to confess that she had a "lapse in judgement" and it was 'not worth losing her kid over' to fight it.
'A lapse in judgement' basically describes most of my entire day parenting two little humans: my kids play outside by themselves, they buzz each other's hair with clippers unsupervised, and sit on countertops regularly. I'm just trying to do my best and figure it out over here - as I imagine most moms are. I understand that people want children to be safe, but shouldn't the first response be to speak to the adult? I'm pretty sure that no one is constantly beating themselves up about every single parenting choices more than Mom. Socially shaming on facebook or involving the legal system seem like the least effective ways to help Moms make better choices.
So I spent part of the day yesterday also stressing about the fact that not only do I have to worry about things like natural disasters, car accidents, disease, bullies, and strangers that want to kidnap or harm my children - I now need to add to the list, "good Samaritans' who call the cops on me behind my back for what they deem poor parenting choices that could potentially land me in jail or lose my kids.
--sorry if this sounds like a rant. It's not. It's more like a 'why do we do this to each other' question out into the world of parents. why can't we try to support each other instead of making parenting a full contact competition?
If you want to help kids, here are some great sites that can help you do that today:
Adopt US Kids
Children of Fallen Soldiers
Boys & Girls Club of America
Save the Children/Syria
Nothing But Nets
Global Giving - The Girl Effect
Anyway, the good news is that today appears to have at least started better. Kids are already outside, attempting to entice bunnies with carrots tied to string and we have a playdate with our best friends this afternoon, followed by dinner & a meeting with The Hunting Daddies crew. Plus, this weekend is our annual Grandmas & Kids to NYC trip. I mean, we really only have up to go from here, right?