As middleman between my husband and our kids I keep a few rules for myself. One of them is that I don’t bombard him, as soon as he lumbers through the door among a symphony of jangling keys, with a long list of obligations that need his attention or complaints about the kids.
The infamous “they” say that, although we don’t often realize it, small transitions like that of just arriving somewhere, can make processing new information harder than after the person has had about 10 minutes to adjust. (For Spencer that means stealing a few kisses and promptly making a B-line for the toilet.) It’s a little thing, but life with three kids is enough of a circus without our adding to preexisting frustration. It makes Spencer laugh in that condescending “aren’t you adorable?” sort of way, but I take pride in recognizing small ways to make it all run a little smoother – even if they elicit good-natured teasing from him about the way I “read too much”. Maybe it’s all a bunch of malarkey. I guess I just figure that if it doesn’t hurt to implement, and there’s arguably something important at stake, then why take a chance on the matter? I like having the whole family know that I’m one person they can always count on to be unsinkably at their side.
Yesterday, for a little while, I didn’t care anymore. I just thirsted to complain, and I’ll be honest: I wanted the kids to hear. Just this once. This breaks like four of my self-imposed rules. Big ones.
In my defense, Spencer was in the bathroom and that just happens to be within a 2 to 10 foot radius of their bedrooms. Plus, I was pissed. My little mother-of-the-year complex could have gone to hell.
Look, I’m not trying to be the world’s most fantastic mother. But I take pride in doing this mom-thing well. I take pride in reaching for a higher level of understanding as to what my children are going through, a deeper patience, a richer companionship between all the members of my family and I. So I try not to dump my grievances on Spencer after he’s worked a fifteen hour day, and I try not to be within earshot of (deceptively) easily effected children when I do unload a little about the ways in which they’ve disappointed me. They’re feelings are more precious to me than porcelain to a doll, I just sometimes wish that my feelings meant a little something to them, too. And that’s a blasphemous thing to admit for a mom. We’re supposed to fit this mold of these almighty beings, impenetrable to the snide remarks and hurled insults of overly entitled children.
Usually, I think I do pretty well. But yesterday struck a new nerve with me somehow. Mary mocked everything out of my mouth almost, taking clear advantage of my every effort to be friendly and available in response, and Matthew learned from Mary to shout: GOD, JUST KILL ME in reply to being made to clean his room. It wasn’t the worst day we’ve ever had, but it was a backslide from the ones we’ve been working toward with a respectable degree of success.
Maybe it was the PMS, maybe it was the added stress of being so behind on the housework, maybe it’s that I’m still growing into motherhood a little and I haven’t become entirely superhuman yet. But I felt markedly outnumbered.
When I vented, baby on hip, to Spencer, it built me back up a little to have them hear that I had someone mighty in my corner. Someone that had a power over them that even I didn’t. Someone like Dad. I may rule the roost most of the time, but this is a guy who could strike fear into the heart of anybody in 3 words or less. And that guy’s on my team, bitc — I mean, dear children.
Let me interject here by saying that I don’t like the thought of fostering family feud, in any direction or context. But as the kids grow
into bigger and bigger pains in our asses, I see with evermore clarity that that’s probably just how it’s going to be sometimes despite my efforts. Teenagers will slam doors, four-year-olds will have front row seats to seminars on how to sass their mother taught by expert older siblings, and toddlers will slap us when we ask them nicely to please stop ruining everything we own.
I’m not a doctor of child psychology or anything, so I’m not sure yet how (though I’m sure that it will; wtf doesn’t these days?) this’ll damage my children for life – but there’s something about the commiserating with my husband about things like this at the end of a bad day that… I don’t know, doesn’t feel so entirely wrong. Something about the way that he makes me laugh, giving horrible advice I would never take seriously. Something about the way that, without having to actually step in at all sometimes, he can give me a new perspective just by referring to them in secret as ungrateful cuss-words.
Whether it’s for comic relief or a camaraderie of complete, fed-up seriousness, I know that he’s the place I can go to let my hair down. He’s the one person that would never blame me for admitting that they really piss me the bleep off sometimes. He’s a friend.
Being the sorry sap that I am though, yesterday I felt remarkably guilty afterward for complaining to my husband about the kids – our precious babies, who do so much even on their worst days to make us both proud. I want to focus entirely on the good that they do, and I shame myself too much for the times I have to admit out loud to someone that they sometimes, sometimes tempt me to do things parenting experts today would no doubt wag the finger at me for.
When people ask why I like to keep a blog I normally give them the generic load of bull about how I hope that someday my kids will read it. It’s partly true. There’s a lot of stuff in the things that I write about them – be it in a hardback journal, the five-line message on the backside of a photograph, or a blog like this – that I’d love for them to hear, to see, to know. Because of that, I rarely use a place like this to vent; I’m not sure I want them having to see this side of it. You know, the truth.
Sometimes, though, I’m not so sure it’d be an awful thing for them to hear when they’re old enough to take it; to know that more often then we’ll ever care to admit, while they were up in their bedrooms cursing our existence (although we’d never have it in us to be truly cruel), we were just a few rooms away, having fun at their expense too. In fact, it probably made us better parents face-to-face. That’s gotta count for something.