Perspective can be a scary thing.
Watching thousands of people as small as ants from the top of a skyscraper. Realizing just how big an airplane is up close. Or learning that someone you love has just been diagnosed with a deadly disease. It’s tough. Sometimes it’s easier to observe things from a far than experience them up close. Perspective can be very very painful. And it’s usually very uncomfortable.
I believe one of the most humble doses of perspective one can experience is that of having kids. Very few things have the capability of bringing you to your knees quicker.
One moment, you’re on top of the world. I mean, like Mom of the Year eligibility. Everything is going well, you’ve hit your stride, your kids are charming, beautiful and intelligent. You even look thinner in Target’s dressing room mirrors. Your husband loves what you made for dinner and your baby practically puts herself to sleep. Life. Is. Amazing.
And just when you start thinking about how easy it would be to add another cherub to the mix… BAM! You’re hit with a healthy dose of perspective.
I had one of those amazing days this past week. And consequently, it was the excitement of today that brought me back down to reality.
I think it was Wednesday that was just awesome. My boys were especially charming in the morning and fell over themselves with appreciation for every little thing I did. They sat nicely in the double-cart at Walmart that afternoon and when I offered Jack a Band-Aid for a cut on his finger, he said, “You take good care of me. You’re a good mommy.”
I could have died and gone to heaven, right in that moment. Gosh, what a wonderful life I’ve been given. Could my kids BE any sweeter?
And then it became Saturday.
Admittedly, I stayed up too late finishing a project in the basement, so I was in no mood to start off the day pretending I was up for this. Andy went to work and the kids immediately starting screaming. Over nothing. Literally. Nothing. “Ben said he didn’t like me!” Jack yelled. “Jack said he won’t listen to me, Mom! MOM! Did you HEAR me!?” Ben screamed. Oh, my.
I should have thrown the towel in right there, but I tried to muster enough energy to rally them in cleaning up and getting out of the house. Sometimes, it’s easier for me to “fake it till I make it” if I get out, just so I could have a change of scenery. They begged to go into McDonald’s PlayPlace so I lazily appeased.
They were surprisingly good while we ordered and ate. They played for a bit and then I gave them the “ten more minutes” countdown. I reminded them again at five minutes, two minutes, one minute, etc. This is nothing new. It should not have been a surprise. But to my boys – in that moment – they were not having it. Full blown (double) tantrum. Oye.
I tried staying patient as we got a few things at the grocery store (after all, one of their first meltdowns of the day was because we were out of milk) and then I threw them outside to play when we got home. My patience at this point was warily thin, so when they both bolted to the front of the house against my wishes, I was full-blown mad. I chased down Ben and carried him back into the backyard. I went around for Jack, but couldn’t find him. Oh, that is not good for a mommy’s patience. I walked around the house four times, with no luck. I couldn’t see him and I couldn’t hear him. I started getting worried. Oh, no. Did he run off somewhere to escape my wrath?
I didn’t know where else to look. My first thought was to call Andy and see what he thought I should do. Call the police? Oh, geez. I opened the back door and there was Jack, sitting on the couch. “Sorry for running, Mom,” he said. Ooooh, this kid.
When Andy came home a few hours later, I practically threw the kids at him and asked for a few minutes to myself to make dinner. What a wonderful fifteen minutes that was. At least I was able to calm down enough to think about going through the craziness of the bedtime routine.
Sometimes, we are the family that other people complement in stores. “Oh, my! What wonderfully behaved children you have!” and “Are they always this sweet to their sister?” But I’m always mindful of the fact that we are always just a HAIR away from the looks, stares and negative comments about how horribly my kids are behaving.
Parenting brings out the best and the worst in us, I guess. Makes you want to call your mom to thank her for all of the sacrifices she made for you and your siblings while also apologize for all of the ways you made it difficult.
So don’t be too hard on the mom whose son is screaming because his mom won’t let him have a candy bar or whose 14-month-old daughter is flailing her little body on the floor of the McDonalds PlayPlace because you took the straw (she had in her mouth while she was running) away from her. That mom is doing the best she can. On any given day, that mom could have easily been me.