Did you ever read the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Well, I’ve got poor little Alexander beat, and honestly, the thought of running away has crossed my mind, but Australia might be a little too far!
This morning I stepped on a Matchbox car, got yogurt in my hair, listened to my daughter tell her older brother, “You naughty,” at least 47 times, and realized we were out of dog food all within 30 minutes of being awake. But then, just before the tears escaped from my eyes, my little guy grabbed my shirt (covering me with even more yogurt) and kissed my hand.
At that moment, all the bad stuff just disappeared. All the anger and frustration stopped, allowing me a second to take a deep breath and reboot. And then, my big boy blew bubbles in his milk, overflowing his cup making another big mess. And I’m back to having a bad day!
How is this possible? Why do I experience these feelings daily, multiple times a day!? Here’s the thing, I’ve been on a ridiculous roller coaster of emotions with my three little ones (age 4 and 2-year-old twins). They drive me insane, and I’m totally outnumbered. It frustrates me that I am pulled in so many different directions. They each have their own needs and wants, and it is near impossible to keep them all satisfied at the same time. What adds fuel to the fire is the fact that I’m an elementary school teacher. I know kids need routine and structure. I mean, I can get 20+ kids to sit and listen to me all day. Why not my own children?
Part of the problem is that I hate being trapped at home, but at the same time, there are limited places that are safe for me to venture out alone with them. Add getting out of the house in less than 45 minutes as a major accomplishment. However, I know they need to be engaged in activities and keep active throughout the day. It’s important that they socialize with friends and that I get the chance to take a break from discussing Ninja Turtles!
The other part of the problem is that I have way too much going on in my mind, and I cannot focus on even the smallest things. Sometimes I know that I can hear my kids, but I admit I’m not always listening.
I often go to start a task, but I’m too busy thinking about the 10 emails I need to respond to, if I remembered to turn the dishwasher on, and the call to the doctor I forgot to make. All this is happening between me trying to get my twins to stop hitting one another and fighting over the same Elmo book (we own about 20 others) and getting my big boy to stop smashing his trucks against the wall (I don’t care that they are racing).
But then again, when I least expect it, someone leaps into my arms and shouts out, “Love you!” or shares a cookie, or puts away a toy without being asked, and I’m reminded that it’s really not that bad.
The majority of each day, I feel like I’m just trying to keep my head above water. So, where do I go from here? I’m not quite sure. The only thing I do know is that feelings come and feelings go. I need to acknowledge my feelings without feeling guilty for experiencing them. I need to model for my children appropriate ways of handling emotions. Most importantly, I need to realize that I’m not having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day; it’s just the reality of raising three young children. AND with a few deep breaths, I can restart my day at any time!