My son says I have Mommy Magic. I can open locked doors from the opposite side. I can make booboos stop hurting with a single kiss. I can tell what trouble the kiddos are getting into when I am not even in the same room (although that one may have something to do with the fact that Will’s little brother has no internal monologue and narrates EVERYTHING he is doing – which makes catching them in the act so much easier!). Some days I feel the power of this Mommy Magic and I am in the Mommy groove. In fact, I am a mommy god. Kids are behaving beautifully (and have clean faces, hands and clothes). I am creative and patient in my responses to them. And when my husband comes in the door from work, dinner is cooking away, soothing music is playing, candles burning, the house is clean and the children are coloring quietly at the table sharing selflessly. Okay, okay – so that only happened ONCE, but I have a dream…don’t mock it.
Last night was one of our more typical nights. When my husband got home from work dinner was actually cooking on the stove and the house smelled of my impressive meal of Portobello Mushroom Pork Chops (Confession: Dinner Done made the chops but I remembered to take them out of the freezer!). I had also endeavored to make corn dumplings in a moment of insanity, thinking the kids could do a cooking project with me. Ha! What actually happened was my hungry ornery children refused to cooperate and kept running outside to play in the dirt instead. Apparently dumpling dough is not as fun as pure dirt. After they tracked mud and sand throughout the house, I got the two (maniacs) children to the table for dinner’s first shift (no wholesome family dinner tonight – if I did not feed the natives, they would start eating each other or pulling on my shirts and jeans with their teeth). Dinner consisted of flinging food, bubble blowing in milk, and about a gazillion reminders from me to put their “bum in the seat!”. Daddy may have smelled yummy pork chops cooking when he walked in, but he heard shrieks and whining and saw two grubby little boys and a wife with handprints, snot and food all over her clothes. I was not that Proverbs 31 woman with a sweet, gentle spirit. Closer to a wild woman with frizzy (partially greying – thanks kids) hair who commanded, with clenched teeth, that he take his children upstairs and (drown) give them a bath while I finished my gourmet corn dumplings.
I ignored the screams of bath time and focused on my corn dumpling making…chop, measure (scream)…stir, pour (“Don’t touch me!!”)…sprinkle, pat (“I quit this family!”)…sigh. Finally Josh and I wrestled the boys into pajamas and bed and left them in their rooms to calmly drift off to sleep. Well, they were in their rooms anyways. But, one was using his bed as a trampoline and yelling because he couldn’t find his latest action figure and the other one was sobbing that he was afraid of the dark (funny, he likes the dark any time but bedtime). Josh and I pretended we heard nothing and tried to discuss our day. Phone rings. “Sure,” I hear him say, “I’ll be there in 45 minutes. No problem.” Ugh. Work. Be understanding, Stephanie…smile, nod and chillax. It’s allll good. No leisurely dinner over wine, pork chops and dumplings (and screaming children). We quickly sat down to dinner until our children’s screams reached OSHA levels and we took turns finding super heroes and flashlights, flicking on hall lights, and consoling the inconsolable.
Mikey sobbed “Our house is yucky!!! I want a new house! I want Myle’s house. His is nice and has TWO garages!!! It’s not yucky like ours! We need a garage!” (I have no idea WHERE this came from, but it was apparently so upsetting that it caused him to cry until he gagged himself. Ah, the sin of coveting already at age 2…we really need to get to church more.)
We try to eat again. Mikey sneaks into Will’s bed and they hide under the covers so we don’t find them. Unfortunately, they forget that Mikey’s constant narration gives them away every time. “We’re hiding Will! We’re hiding!! I sleep in YOUR bed tonight. Mine’s yucky!” It’s too cute to break up, so Josh and I pretend not to hear it for a while and inhale the rest of our dinner.
I kiss Josh goodbye and assure him that everything will be fine…go and be an IT superhero. I will manage the chaos. Nooooo problem. At this point we had gotten both kids back in their rooms. Mikey is rocking violently in his rocking chair because he’s “mad” and Will is screaming for MIkey to “knock it off!” because the chair keeps hitting the wall and keeping him awake (and they wonder why our house is “yucky”? They’re not even teenagers yet and our walls have more dents and cracks in them from their toys, chairs, hammer, feet…heads…). I go to Will’s room to beg him to be patient with his brother (because at least he was staying in his room now – we can fix the wall later I reason), and I discover that Will has peed all over his bed, blankies, stuffed animals, comforter and pillow…and his little brother (I found that out later when I discovered pee soaked pjs on Mikey that did not originate from Mikey’s diaper…and the fact the Will later admitted to peeing on him).
“WILL!!! Why didn’t you use the potty?!!!”
“Um, I was having too much fun.”
Breathe…breathe…oh, forget it! Screw breathing…time to yell.
“WHAT?!!! WELL I AM GOING TO MAKE SURE YOU NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH FUN AGAIN! GET OUT OF THAT BED AND GO POTTY!”
I proceeded to guide (drag) him to the potty where he peed again…half on the floor (Deep breath, don’t kill him…you have another child who needs you too much for you to go to jail). Then I make him strip his entire bed and march his naked little behind down to the laundry room. Back upstairs, I yank pjs on Will and I fish through the linen closet and remember I am a good week behind in laundry (grrrrr…). I find a crib mattress pad, sheets to our bed and an old pillow case from when I was a teenager that has a picture of me and my two best friends. As I huffily make his bed with this hodge podge (mature mommy has not regained composure yet), Will begins to wail.
“What?!” I snap.
“Those sheets don’t fit me!!! I can’t sleep on those. They are grown-up sheets, a baby sheet and a teenager sheet. I am none of those! I’m a little boy, mommy!” sobs Will.
The hysterically funny, sweet and sadness of that little boy with crocodile tears who just didn’t “fit” jolted me back to my senses. I sat down on his bed and took him in my arms and rocked him as he cried. He lifted up his shirt and started tracing something with his finger on his belly.
“I’m drawing sad faces on my belly because I feel so mean right now! I feel so MEAN right in my belly. So I’m drawing sad faces!” he sobbed as he repeatedly drew his imaginary sad faces on his belly. (So, he’s got a flair for the dramatics.)
“You know what sweetie, mommy feels mean in her belly too. It doesn’t feel good does it?”
“Nooooo!” he wails. “You’re mad at me and I’m mad at you! I just feel sooo mean!”
At this point I am half laughing, half crying as I try to console my sensitive, sweet (yet sometimes incredibly annoying) 4-year-old. Man do I know how it is to feel “mean in the belly.” Funny how kids can put so simply an emotion that us adults try to complicate, analyze or explain away, instead of just stating it how it is. Sometimes we just feel mean. Sometimes we just don’t fit. Some days, life is just…hard. And relationships are messy and frustrating. I apologized to my dear sweet boy for my meanness and he apologized for his. We hugged, rocked, cried a bit and then laughed and were silly with each other. Wow. If we could do this with all our relationships when things get heated. So simple. We mess up. We feel bad. We apologize. We forgive. We move on and enjoy each other for who they are. Flawed. Real. Messy. Glorious.
Bedtime at this point was a lost cause. We sprung Mikey from the jail of his room as he was still banging away and screaming about his “yucky room” (I had lost all patience and locked his door…from the outside…hey, don’t judge if you’ve never had more than one toddler.). Reset button time boys. I cuddled both boys up in my bed with pillows and blankets and let them watch one of their favorite television shows to calm down. (Both had given themselves the hiccups from crying so hard and sat their pitifully with their gulps of air and tear stained faces.)
Before I made another attempt at bedtime, I went downstairs to try and tackle the dishes and call back a friend of mine who needed some TLC (although I was exhausted in about every way a person can be and was pretty sure I had none left to give). As I am scrubbing pans and talking on the phone, I see a naked Will crawling down the stairs on his hands and knees with his butt poking in the air. Uh-oh…
“Mommy, I pooped in the potty. Don’t worry, I got some toilet paper, folded it up and placed it next to the potty for in case I need it later, but right now I need YOU to wipe my butt.”
Oh, and those corn dumplings? They were awful.