I’ll fully admit that I was not a good mom this morning. That said, I could have been much worse. I didn’t yell. I didn’t touch a child. There were no emotional or physical scars left. But I’m still angry and irritated – albeit perhaps somewhat irrationally so, as the wee ones are only 7 and 8. But… it’s reality.
And this? This was the breakfast table at 8:30 after the wee ones had boarded the bus for school. On the plus side, I didn’t have to make myself breakfast because there was plenty sitting right here.
I didn’t get a full night’s sleep because I woke up from an utterly bizarre dream at 4am. That isn’t an excuse, but I know myself, and I get crabby when I don’t have sufficient sleep. Compounded with things that don’t go as they could, my temper can flare, and getting the wee ones ready for the bus has been a struggle all week.
At 7:10 this morning – an hour and ten minutes before their bus was scheduled to arrive to pick them up for school – I headed into Mister Man’s room, where I found both the wee ones in their pjs, quietly playing. As they spotted me, the whining began that they hadn’t had enough time to play. I’m used to it. I get the same whining every morning, no matter what. But, Mooooom, Mister Man whined in his best two year old voice, I was just about to start a game. Sorry, Kiddo. It’s time for school, so I need you to get dressed.
Little Miss began picking up her Puffles and gave me a hug before heading to her room to change. Mister Man chose to crawl under his covers to hide. I explained that I wasn’t playing that game and they needed to get dressed and come down for breakfast just like they have done for the past six years. (My emphasis now, not then.) I got breakfast orders and headed downstairs to make breakfasts and lunches for everyone except me.
I didn’t hear noises that sounded like anyone getting dressed. In fact, the noises sounded like Star Wars Fighter Pods being connected and unconnected. I sighed and continued on my way, deciding that maybe today was the day for natural consequences. If they weren’t down by the time I finished with breakfasts and lunches and was ready to head upstairs to get myself dressed, I would send them down and they could eat what they got to by 8am – still leaving them nearly a half hour to eat.
As I boiled water in a kettle to help keep the Thermos warm for the honey chicken Mister Man was getting in his lunch, I heard a new noise, one that included giggling. The wee ones were not coming down to breakfast – which was now sitting on the kitchen table getting warm (for Mister Man) and cold (for Little Miss) – but instead were playing with the nightlight in the hallway, changing its colors. My blood pressure started to rise.
By the time I finished with lunches and set the lunches and snacks for school on the steps for them to pack into backpacks, there was still nary a child in sight, although I had explained that breakfast was ready and sitting on the table. I climbed the stairs to find the wee ones wrestling in the hallway, presumably over control of the nightlight, atop the sheets I had just washed and folded but not yet put away. They decided to go eat breakfast.
While I was getting dressed, the wee ones called to me. Meow – who is not allowed near the table when anyone is eating because I don’t like begging, nor do I want to encourage him to think people food is his food and yes, everyone in the house knows the rule – had managed to knock Little Miss’s milk over with his tail. I closed my eyes and continued getting dressed, deciding benign neglect at this point was better than blowing my top.
By the time I finished getting dressed – note, no makeup or hair or even teeth brushed for me yet, as that happens after the wee ones are off to school – and headed downstairs, I was doing deep breathing exercises. It was now 8am, and I had milk to clean up. Mister Man was sitting at the table reading a magazine (another no-no) and hadn’t touched his breakfast. Neither child had socks on. Mister Man didn’t have his glasses.
I reiterated what still needed to be done: lunches and snacks into backpacks, breakfasts eaten, vitamins taken, teeth brushed, socks on, glasses on, shoes on. Oh, and that they didn’t have much time left. Little Miss – knowing this wasn’t going to end well – quickly got up and put her dishes away and headed on to her next tasks. Mister Man gave the verbal agreement and continued with his magazine.
When the bus pulled into our driveway at 8:20am, Little Miss was ready… except for her unbrushed hair. She managed to escape out the door before I could catch her and so now is at school looking like she has a pet rat who sleeps in her hair. Mister Man had to be sent upstairs while the bus waited (thank goodness this isn’t the regular bus that waits for no one) for his glasses. And socks. And I’m pretty sure his reading log never got filled out.
And they were off to school. I’m still angry that the cat was apparently on the kitchen table and knocked over milk. And that Mister Man chose to read a magazine at the table instead of eating his breakfast. And that they were wrestling on my clean sheets. And that they were playing instead of getting ready for school as they’d been asked to do and as they know they have to do every morning. And that Mister Man was throwing attitude at me about getting ready – from the time I explained that he needed to get dressed until the time he stomped back down the stairs with his glasses and socks.
But I didn’t yell. I didn’t threaten them with anything. I didn’t say anything mean to them. And obviously I didn’t physically touch them. That feels like such a hollow victory.
I’m not sure why getting ready has been so difficult this week. I’m not sure if it’s the “extra time” we now have since the bus comes 20 minutes later than the time we used have to get out the door. I’m not sure if they simply need more sleep. I’m really not sure what it is. Yesterday, I resorted to spoon feeding Mister Man his breakfast like he was a baby because he was taking so long. He didn’t like it. Neither did I. Today I went a different route of benign neglect that still wasn’t being the good mom I want to be.
So on Monday, we’re going to try something different. This weekend, I’m going to sit down with them and explain what I was unhappy with and why today. And we’re going to talk about what needs to happen at what time. Both the wee ones have small whiteboards, and I’m going to use them as checklists for the wee ones because I can’t keep reminding them to move move move every five minutes. I’ll leave them outside their rooms at night, and they can carry them with them as they get ready in the morning.
Something has to change. And as the parent, it has to be me. I will raise independent and responsible children one way or the other. How do you ensure that you get everyone out the door in the morning?