There are some weeks (or months, truly) where you feel like you can’t get it right in the land of parenting. You fail to notice the milk running low, and there’s none for the morning. You forgot to send something important to school with a kid. The siblings or friends are fighting like mortal enemies, and the chaos level is pushing you to the edge. You realize that it’s 4 p.m. and you don’t have any plan for dinner (again).
Appointments are forgotten. You haven’t bathed them in five days, and they stink. You try to make things magical, but they complain. You can’t seem to get anyone to bed on time to save your life. The kids are extra whiny, and you are going to lose it any second. You feel like you have been literally chasing your tail for days and haven’t even taken a moment to breathe. Your frustration level is peaking, and you find yourself having a hard time being nice to the tiny people around you.
The horrible thing about parenting is that you could really handle any of these situations in isolation. Still, they always seem to culminate in one terrible week (or month), which leaves you feeling depleted, overwhelmed, and failing as a parent.
Sometimes I find myself over-reacting to the children yelling at me, and we all start yelling at each other, which makes me feel terrible, and no one feels good about life. So I want to remind you that you ARE NOT failing. Your kids will fight like cats and dogs, but one day they will grow to love one another (supposedly). You are not the first mother to feel like you are epically failing at your task, and you won’t be the last.
I recently had a tough two weeks with the kids. We were home for Thanksgiving, just the five of us, and it was not only a lot of family togetherness, but it was also A LOT of messes and screaming. It seemed that as soon as we cleaned up one room, I turned around, and they had destroyed another room (and I truly mean Guns N’ Roses level of destruction). My regular yoga class kept getting trumped by all the other things I had going on, and I was negative on the namaste level. I got into a grouchy mommy mood that seemed to propel itself, and I couldn’t shake it for two weeks.
I finally realized that I was TRYING too hard.
One day, I hit rock bottom. The kids’ screaming, fighting, and mess-making had pushed me over the edge, and my poor husband walked in the door to all four of us crying. I said that I had to be alone and went to my room. He could tell that I meant it and quietly tucked people in and did the dishes. (He even wiped the countertops! Maybe I should cry more often.)
The next day, I let it all go. I threw my expectations out the window. I texted my husband to say that there was no dinner for him. I was throwing in the towel and feeding the kids at Chelsea Piers after their classes. It was something so small that made such a positive difference in my day.
Please, do whatever you have to do to take some pressure off of yourself. Go for a walk, a run, call in a sitter, do one less errand, order in for dinner, forget the laundry, ignore the messes, read a book, look at pictures of them when they were babies and were happy…whatever works for you.
Take a step back and remember that you are a mere mortal, just doing her best. Keep in mind that, at the end of a hard day, as long as the children are fed, clothed, and know they are loved, you’re doing alright!
Take some pressure off yourself! You’re not failing! Eventually, they have been fed something, and they get tucked safely in bed. I might say, “I love you” through clenched teeth after they have screamed at me and called me names, but I always end the day with an “I love you.” One day they’ll understand how hard this parenting gig really is.