If you ask a mom if she has ever lost it on her kids and she says no, she is lying. If you ask a mom if she has ever regretted things she has said to her kids and she says no, she is lying. If you ask a mom if she has ever felt she has ruined the innocence of childhood by speaking the truth a little too harshly and she says no, her child is probably under 2. The day I told my kids the whole damn truth was eye opening for them, uncharacteristic for me and a harsh lesson in how far I am willing to go to make sure these kids understand the realities of life.
Or it could be that I just plain old mommy lost it.
It happens to us all. Especially if we feel we do it all.
As a single mom, I have to do it all. When I was married, I had very little help from my ex but at least I knew there might be a chance of a break on the horizon. As a single mom, though, there are no possible step-ins when things get tough. It is me and them every day, no matter what.
If I said I did not love being a single mom, I would be lying. There is a certain peace that comes over me when I know that the decisions I make for these kids don’t have to be ‘run by’ someone else. There is a consistency in the household that I think the kids benefit from.
But sometimes, like on this day, it all becomes a little overwhelming.
We were in the midst of birthday week. My middle daughter is the only one that has a birthday during the school year. So, praise be to God, I only have to deal with taking things to school and fitting in a party on busy school year weekends one out three times. My daughter’s birthday was on a Tuesday. I had managed to have the presents wrapped and ready so that when I got them all up at 6:30 am, she could unwrap them. Does it matter that I had to stay up past midnight to do that after my work was done?
I had purchased and had decorated and delivered 2 large cookie cakes to the school cafeteria so that her class and her sister’s class could have some to celebrate. I purchased and delivered cupcakes to horseback riding lessons. I fit in a dinner at her favorite restaurant. I washed her favorite outfits so she would have them all week. I did it all. And worked 60 hours. And took care of our 4 dogs. And the house. And the laundry. And the dishes. And the gifts for the birthday parties of friends we were going to over the weekend. And the party ideas and supplies for her party on Sunday.
I did it all. ALL of it. On my own. Without sleep or complaining.
So we are sitting at the kitchen table on Saturday morning where I had made and delivered pancakes. Each with the sprinkles they wanted. I told them that it was THEIR job to clean up their rooms for the party the next day.
Instead of saying, ‘Oh sure mom, we would love to! We would love to help you out and pick up the 75,000 toys we got out just this morning so that you don’t have to add that to your list before throwing a Halloween themed birthday party!’, they all squeaked and complained and whined and complained and whined some more.
I listened. Tried to reason and finally said, ‘If this house is not completely picked up by the time we leave for your friends party, we are NOT going!’ And I really, really, really meant it!
Instead of the threat motivating them, I got back, ‘You are SO MEAN MOM!!’
And I lost it!
With, I am sure, steam coming out of my ears, I started yelling! In a tone I am sure my kids never expected, that possible startled them by the looks on their faces, I unloaded. I told them everything. That I was the ONLY adult in the house helping them daily with homework, school projects, friendships\ problems, their laundry, their food, their favorite snacks, their damn, ‘I have to have a blue/ pink/ purple plate only!’ individualistic demands, their scheduled, their extra curricular activities, their scraped knees, their lost shoes, their social calendars, their ‘make sure my favorite blanket/ shirt/ pants are washed for school tomorrow’, their dinner, lunch, snacks, and on and on and on. I told them that I was fed up with, ‘Give me this, call this friend, I want to go do this, will you buy me this’ demands. That I had not raised them to be selfish with others so why were they with me? That I was tired and just wanted a little thank you or respect or help or understanding from my kids. I unloaded. Told them the things I had given up so they could have what they need. Asked them the last time they saw me go drop $500 on clothing for me. The last time I picked the restaurant we ate in. The last time I got a ‘thank your for dinner, mom’, on the way out.
By the time I was done, they were like deer in headlights. The tears and ‘we love you mom!’s started and I could feel the cold reality of regret climbing up my body to punish my for losing it. But it was too late.
I had told them the whole damned truth. The things mama’s are not supposed to say to their little kids. The things we are supposed to keep secret. To absorb on our own. To deal with late at night when they are in bed and we are trying to count all of our blessings with what energy we have left.
I felt horrible. I still do.
But maybe, just maybe it is not all a bad thing. Maybe you guys won’t totally hate me forever when you hear what has happened in the days since.
My kids have done almost everything I have asked with no argument. They ALL hugged me and thanked me for Sarah’s party and my youngest, who is the absolute worst about picking up after herself at all, cleaned up all of the toilet paper in the yard, UNPROMPTED, after the mummy runs the kids did at the party. ALL of it. BY herself. I had tears in my eyes as I gave her huge, tight hugs.
So maybe losing it is not as damaging as I thought. Maybe sometimes kids need to hear that mom is human. That we do get tired. That we do accomplish more than they know.
Maybe telling them the whole damned truth actually helps us become better moms. And them become better kids.
At least through the weekend!