Wednesday, June 8, 2016

This is not a happy morning

Well, haven't the last eighteen hours been a fun disaster! It started yesterday with camp pickup, which was completely insane. The kids were in countries by groups and the groups were spread out on a field marked by their country's flag. Because I don't know offhand what the Bahamian flag looks like, this presented a problem. Since I was already tired and hungry, and Wes's group hadn't gotten back yet and Charley's group was in a different party of the camp altogether, and since I lost Wes when I was trying to find Charley only to find them calmly sitting together under a tree with Charley's group, totally ignoring the way I was storming around calling their names like a crazy person, I was in NO MOOD to receive the negative behavior report from Charley's counselor (that I had actually been expecting/dreading. And it was a Big Deal.).

So I spent the first several minutes of family togetherness for the entire day yelling incoherently into the back of a hot minivan at a kid who, as far as I can tell, does not give one shit about what I or anyone else thinks about his behavior.

We rode the rest of the way to pick up the little kids in silence, except for me crying in frustration. I attempted a few times to salvage the conversation by asking about how the rest of the day had gone, but my heart was not in it, though it probably should have been. Finally, my sweet complicated wonderful boy tiptoed into the water and asked cautiously "How was your meeting this morning, Mom?" And I told him in a strangled voice that it had been good, very good, my students had done a really good job and I was proud of them.

The rest of the afternoon was middling, we picked up Chinese before heading to our house and dove right into dinner when we arrived. Everyone had goofy fun using their chopsticks and reading their fortunes. It was a nice dinner. Afterward we ate leftover cake and went to the back yard together to blow up the pool, which turned out to be total chaos since we don't currently have a gate on our fence and Mary kept disappearing into the front yard or the back yard and I had to chase her and help set up the pool and answer a thousand questions from James and also it was hot and there were bugs and I was completely exhausted.

By the time Ryan got home I was not exactly June Cleaver, unless June Cleaver had off-camera F-bomb laced-tirades in the driveway when Ward arrived home after a long day at the office. Maybe she did?

Needless to say I did not sleep last night. Not sleeping is pretty much my plan for the summer since every week we have a new arrangement for childcare and new arrangements are scary and tend to go badly (as we saw yesterday!) for one member of the family. And of course this makes me feel like shit because we wouldn't even be in this situation if not for my selfish need to try and have a meaningful career. If we were just hanging around at home all day, eating watermelon by the pool and riding our bikes, everyone would be happy and no one would have to sit out BB gun time at camp for disobeying instructions.

But yesterday at work was a really, really good day. Which makes this all even more complicated in my head. Of course I should quit and focus on the kids. Clearly they need me. Of course I should keep working because after seven years of scratching together a research program, things are finally starting to happen. It is exhilarating and satisfying and 90% of the time works well with the kids' schedule. Of course the kids are most important. Of course my feelings matter. Of course the money I bring in, an increasingly significant chunk of our income, though not large in an absolute sense, especially given the number of years of education required for this job, is important to our family finances.

And even though I hadn't slept and was still feeling like I'd had the wind knocked out of me from the day before, I arranged myself into a picture of confidence and maternal warmth as I went about the process of waking everyone up to get ready. We focused on the positive. We were laughy and jokey during breakfast. All four kids squished on top of each other so they could watch Charley's frogs in their tank. Ryan took a picture it was so adorable. I started to relax.

And then the child in question went outside "to get some running in before camp", which is something we started doing when he went to his old school and had to tap off energy before being asked to sit in a classroom with the Wicked Witch of the West for seven hours. This was fine and, I thought, a great way to start the morning. Burn off the nervous energy and start camp with a calm brain! Except when I went out front to get everyone in the car he was attempting to drag a seven foot long plastic outdoor plastic toybox across the street from our neighbor's trash pile. I told him calmly and kindly that we were not going to bring that to our house and to please put it back. He responded by doubling down and ignoring me, getting out a hand truck from the garage to help move it. Still calm, but firm and serious, I told him to PUT IT BACK once again. He stalked back across the street and I had to ask him to go get the hand truck and put it back in the garage. SEVERAL MORE ITERATIONS of this occurred and by the time I was ready to take the little kids to school I was FUMING. That's when one kid asked his brother to help him by running across the street to put a sign on the box that said "not trash", which we had already clearly and explicitly told him not to do.

And the crazy, driveway yelling she-devil came out again.

Yelling at your kid in the driveway at seven thirty in the morning is both classy and a great way to start the morning off on the right foot.

I backed out of the driveway and parked my car directly in front of the box, got out, ripped the sign into little tiny pieces, and shoved it into my friend's recycle bin, then got back in my car with a loud SLAM and drove the little kids to school.

And then I went to the Y.

I wanted to go get a breakfast taco and a donut, but I've been doing so well at losing the 2014 (the year of the shitstorm) weight that I told myself I had to at least attempt to deal with the rage in a healthy way before worshiping at the altar of the carbohydrate. I still felt like a treat after that but was able to stick to an iced tea and the popcorn I'd brought in my lunch. Calories saved: 10,000.

And now I will attempt to read about rain and El Nino and ozone and do all the things that are so freaking important that I have to *force* my kid to go to an awesome camp that has a waterslide and archery and arts and crafts and snack all day. My self-care plan involves leaving a bit early to stop at the grocery store BEFORE pickup and also to buy the Hamilton soundtrack on Amazon and listen to it in my office at an unprofessionally loud volume.


Jodilynn said...

What is it they say? Oxygen mask on the mom first or no one makes it? Work is sometimes like oxygen for me (Do I wish I had less of it to do? Sure. Do I wish I could somehow magically be both there AND with my children? Often.) What I see in this post is what you already know: you love them enough to also love yourself, and of all of your roles, you work hardest at finding the balance between these two roles. I am impressed and inspired by you, classy driveway screaming and all!

Jodilynn said...

Also, NOTHING will make you feel better than Hamilton at top volume in your office. I speak from experience.

Chiconky said...

*Hugs* Being a mom is really, really hard sometimes. You are doing an amazing job though, and your kids are lucky to have you. You care and you try, and then you keep trying. That proves you're kicking ass. Enjoy your well-deserved musical soundtrack.