I get angry more often than I would like.
Sometimes I wonder if every mother gets angry as much as I do – comparison is a weakness of mine (and like Mark Twain said, “Comparison is the death of joy”). Does every mother have children that are this noisy? Does every mother get as little done as I do? Does every mother try to have even a small work life? Does every mother look around at some point every day and say, “What happened?”
I do not like to yell – and I try very hard not to – but it happens. Sometimes just to be heard over wrestling, screaming, impressions, television, I have to raise my voice. Sometimes, at dinner, I speak louder than I would like to get control of the table. I feel dinnertime flying out of my hands (metaphorically). When I would like to sit down and get off my feet after preparing dinner, eager for some peace to digest my food, my kids want to talk about how dinner looks like cat throw-up. Or they want to stand up while trying to eat their beans. They want to make noises and eat sour cream with their fingers – or not eat at all. They ignore our pleas for calm at the dinner table. It’s as if we’ve wound them up right before we asked them to sit down, and they cannot be shut off.
Have I mentioned I have 3 boys?
Sometimes I think that’s something people can’t truly fathom. Oh, sure – they think you can. It sounds simple because it’s just 3. But oh my God… the chaos is frightening. The destruction of the three of them, running around is unexplainable. I know having children is just this way for all of us, regardless of gender or number – and maybe I’m being dramatic. I do realize that one child is overwhelming and takes up 24 hours a day, just as 5 kids do.
Maybe I am doing it inefficiently. I am not strict nor disciplined. I am not especially neat and tidy by nature. I believe in allowing children to have freedoms and rights in the home. I don’t necessarily think they always have to pick up their messes. BUT MAYBE I SHOULD. Would life be easier? Would I be less angry? Or more?
I have always liked quiet and peacefulness. I have never been a kid person. I guess this is the fertile soil that is growing my seed of anger. The last person in the world who should have three boys is me, the kid-hating feminist. Somehow it just happened – and I love them dearly. I do not regret them in the least. In fact, most of them were very planned and extremely wanted. It’s just their noise and chaos that will probably be the death of me.
Or maybe it will be my anger. Not every single day. But some days.
I think when the volume increases, I get tense. Competing noises make me feel overwhelmed. The anger slowly creeps up – one child is yelling for me to come wipe his bottom, the other two are arguing over a toy, I have people coming over for a class so the house needs to be clean… and it all just falls in on me. I can’t immediately find a quiet place to regain calm. I have to attend to the dirty bottom. I can’t just abandon the arguing (although I can listen in until it gets heated – and maybe only then intervene). It’s hard being a mother since I am not in charge of the chaos or the break from it. Everything that comes up affects how my child is forming and growing, so that can just add to the stress. It’s hard to decide when it is okay to take some time away… and by the time it is okay to take the time – I forget to do it.
I realize I do not have to do everything immediately, but quite honestly the constant refrain of “Mommy!! …Mommy!!! … Mom! … Mom!!!! … Mommy!!” grates on me. Any dangling question, especially if repeated, must be answered for efficiency and – hopefully – quiet. Every fussy noise sinks into my bones and chest and begs for me to address it. It’s as if every muscle tenses up simultaneously if a child is uttering a nasally plea from the next room. I cannot ignore it. It is impossible for me to move on with anything else.
It’s these little moments of driving-me-crazy that build up during these times. Of a child getting too much paint on his paintbrush and a glob plopping right on the garden seeds I’ve forgotten to put away. Of the boy not keeping his plate close to him and dropping food in the 2-inch gap all over the new table cloth I just put on. It’s dried leaves and mulch ALL over the bottoms of their socks, even though I’ve asked them to not run around outside with only their socks on. It’s Legos® all over every square inch of upstairs so that I cannot even walk. Them overflowing the toilet upstairs, not bothering to get me, and water pouring through the light sockets and ceiling fans downstairs. It’s one of them NEVER changing underwear (I realize in retrospect), it’s them eating 2 bags of apples in a day, it’s hearing the word “penis” too many times. Why do they always pee in the bath and call it the “secret ingredient”?! Calgon, please take me away – to a urine-free bath.
There are three of them for God’s sake – how can I monitor each of their underwear while trying to do everything else?
Those things don’t sound so bad all typed out. Don’t sweat the small stuff, one might say. Blessings of children – you’ll miss it when it’s gone, someone might remind me. And even though that person may be right, on this day, at this time, it’s hard for me to hear.
What is the right answer during the Trials of Motherhood, when we have babies that won’t sleep, or a child that won’t eat anything healthy? We know it’s fleeting, we feel the time racing by, we cry because we do not have enough time with them in any given day. And yet, they drive us crazy and the time cannot pass fast enough, and the night cannot get here soon enough so that I am sitting in peace and quiet. I’m not angry, I can breathe deeply. My time is my own, and I can go in to see them sleeping and watch their faces. I am a mother that isn’t mothering right now – not bossing or cleaning or reprimanding or trying to keep the peace. I am only enjoying their faces sleeping in solitude. And for a few short hours, my muscles are not tensed, my ears have a small reprieve and my patience with them can regrow in the fertile soil – right next to my seed of anger. Here’s hoping the patience grows faster than the anger.