Thursday, August 10, 2017

The SAHM Experiment: I really suck at being a mom

I don't have enough fingers to count the amount of times today that I yelled at my 3.5 year old to "just leave me alone, I'm trying to do something!"

This kid, who is so aggressively extroverted and who has the imagination of a science-fiction writer thrown in a blender with a fantasy writer, just wanted some attention. He always wants my attention. He never stops talking, even when I'm not in the room. I find him talking to himself frequently when I'm not around, especially if I'm in a bad mood. I am 99 percent positive he is talking to me, but he feels so bad when I growl, "What do you want?!" that he just says he's talking to himself.

During this whole SAHM Experiment so far (we're technically on week #4), I've had some amazing days and I've had some really lousy, "Why am I filled with so much rage toward such tiny people?" moments. It's been demoralizing, embarrassing, and it's given me a terrible bounty of guilt in which I continue to ask myself, "Seriously, you're a mother?"

The thing is, I can easily pinpoint why I suck at being a mom sometimes. It's easy for me to know when I'm going to lose my mind and be a total jerk to my kids. The one thing that causes me to go off the handle and treat my kids like they're employees in The Devil Wears Prada?


And it's not even like it's earth-shattering, deadline-driven work. It's not like I'm racing to cure cancer or something. It's "Oh did you post this to Facebook?" or "Hey can you let us know when you can finish that flyer?"

Yes, people have businesses to run and livelihoods to consider, but at the end of the day? None of this is an emergency. These adult people won't remember in a month whether a tweet went out at noon or if a Facebook event got posted two weeks prior to the even or three weeks prior to the event.

But my kids? My kids. Sigh.

I'll be honest in that I don't remember much about my childhood. The moments I start remembering are the ones that are painful, hurtful, the ones that make me angry. Why is this? I don't really know. Did I have a terrible childhood? I don't think so. My mom stayed home with us, my dad had a decent job, and we were comfortably middle class until I was in middle school. After that, I remember everything, but what brooding, angsty teenager doesn't?

I have so many regrets about the past two weeks. Not so many about the two weeks we were in England because I was completely and utterly shut off those weeks. I didn't dwell on Facebook (I just plastered photos of my awesome trip) or Twitter, and I didn't obsessively fall down the Wikipedia rabbit hole. I conversed, I schlepped, I read, I watched British quiz shows, I relaxed, I just was. I was with my family. And it was good. I had patience, I had kindness, I had understanding.

I didn't once tell my kids to shut up because I was working and just needed to finish this one ... last ... thing.

So why do I struggle to prioritize? Why did I sit on my computer this morning instead of sitting at the table while the kids chowed down? Why did I fidget with my phone nervously checking emails instead of ignoring my phone and engaging my kids in something they wanted to do? Why am I so anxious all the time about whether there's something I'm supposed to be doing but I'm not?

I never wanted kids. I always remind people of that. I was always career-minded, career-driven. In one timeline, I would have been on the copy desk at The New York Times by now. Maybe even running the show. Unmarried, living in midtown, my spare time spent in coffee shops and book stores.

When I met Mr. T that all changed. I wanted kids, I don't know why. I wanted kids and to be someone important and influential. I wanted to be a career woman with kids and a happy husband and a perpetually clean house and at some point I was convinced I could do and have all of those things.

What a crock.

The thing is, you can't have it all. Because when you try to have it all, something, someone, usually gets left behind. As I stay home with my kids, all day every day, and as I flee the moment my husband comes home when I can in order to regain some sense of who I am, and as I cry in the car listening to "Glycerine" by Bush and thinking of high school and how I wanted so desperately to be a writer someday ... I realize that I have to stop running at full speed.

I'm 33, almost 34. I've got time. I can't rush through it all and miss something, or someone. I don't want to scream at my kids because my attention is misplaced. I don't want them to see me that way. I want to be able to capture every ridiculous moment and second of who they are.

Yesterday, Little T was eating ants in the backyard. Today, she ate sand at the park and then came home to eat day-old macaroni off the floor. She loves having her neck tickled and kissed and she does laps in the house like it's going out of style. She's so smart. You can ask her to do anything, and she knows exactly how and what to do. "Go get your shoes," "Go find your doggy," "Take a drink of water, please." She's going to rule the world, she is.

Today, Asher told me a story about a "Very Tired Mommy" and her extravagant adventures kicking things, and it somehow ended up with a duck and a policeman. We played a game where he put a Target diaper box on his head and we pretended it was his house, so I'd knock on the door with a Duplo Joker figurine and the Joker would try to sneak his way in. He thought it was hilarious and we did the same thing, over and over, for a half-hour. He's brilliant, my son, creative and silly to excess.

I can't imagine missing out on who my kids are now. I can't wait to someday tell them about the way they were. I just hope they look back and, if they remember, they can say I was good to them. The best I could be.