As a stay-at-home mom trying to successfully navigate jam packed days, there are some moments when I feel like I am failing. One particular morning this summer, I experienced the perfect example of my lowest lows and highest highs in regards to mothering. It all started with swimming lessons (need I say more). My three oldest kiddos all take lessons at the same time at an outdoor community pool. On their first day, I put up with the complaints regarding the water being too cold, goggles hurting their heads, and my three-year-old’s hunger pains despite eating a full breakfast not 20 minutes prior. However, I felt the second day of lessons was a day for my children to “female up” and stop complaining about every single thing. I encouraged them to show off their swimming skills or at least be a good sport and even better listener.
The Beginning of the End
The morning started off great because we were on-time for lessons for the second day in a row. However, I did forget my phone so the immediate good feeling rush was swiftly followed by a sense of defeat. Oh well, all of my children were with me, newborn baby included, so I decided to shrug off the absence of my cellular device and go with the “off the grid” feeling.
My kids all behaved well during lessons. They kicked when instructed to kick, they got their faces wet, my oldest tried the breaststroke, and my middle daughter did not whine about missing her chance to jump off the diving board. During their 45 minute lessons I walked the bike trail loop, that circles the pool, with my baby in the stroller and mentally gave myself a standing ovation for working in a bit of exercise during our busy morning.
Lessons ended and all of my children swarmed to me for their beach towels. I congratulated them on their good attitudes and Michael Phelps-type abilities in the water. All was going swimmingly (see what I did there?) for about two minutes until my three-year-old son realized his water goggles were “lost”. Well, they were not lost they were just abandoned by the side of the wading pool. He went to fetch them and my six-year-old daughter thought he needed help. My son disagreed and an argument ensued. It ended with my daughter throwing a towel at her brother that caused a whiplash effect across his arm, which in turn infuriated him to chase her down and whip the towel back at her. His whip also included a pair of hard plastic goggles that thumped her head. Both children were screaming, I felt like every other person at swimming lessons was staring, and my temper hit the rage roof. I loudly scolded my son for hitting, while trying to simultaneously snap my daughter out of her tear-fest since she kind of started the whole terrible escapade.
And just like that I went from feeling like Mother of the Year, or at least the Awesome Mom of the Moment, to that crazy lady who screeches at her kids. I even uttered to my son that he was lucky “I didn’t beat his butt”, which is strange because I literally do not beat my kids’ butts and avoid spanking as a discipline tactic. Just saying the word “butt” at all is dumb to do around little boys because they all seem to have this sense to constantly spew potty humor type words on every occasion.
My oldest watched the whole fiasco in awe and discomfort, while my newborn picked that moment to wake up and demand to be fed. I had three upset kiddos and a daughter who wanted to flee the family name all together. We got to the car and both my middle children were alternating between tears and the blame game. I was still scolding, while also mentally yelling at myself for reacting in a less than calm manner (how is that for multitasking?).
An acquaintance mom walked by us with her three kiddos, who were all being well behaved, and asked if she could help. I said no, but also very much appreciated the sincere offer. Her facial expression was so understanding that it helped me to soldier on and get the three kids into dry clothes and also locate a pacifier ASAP for my eight-week old.
A Time to Rally
I wish I could say the morning got better from there, because it did, well sort-of. We took a car ride to the pet store which was strained, but ultimately my middle children apologized to me and each other. They also got screen time taken away as a privilege for the day and both were going to have to tell their dad about this awful episode when he got home from work. The pet store visit went well and all of the kids shrugged off the morning’s mishaps and were elated to look at the multitudes of lizards and beta fish.
The store run went so well and I was feeling the mom guilt of maybe being too hard on them, so…we opted to go to Chipotle for lunch. Yes, I willingly took four children by myself out to eat. That is how bad I needed an iced tea followed by a diet coke fountain pop chaser! And guess what? We rocked Chipotle! My daughters ordered in their big girl voices, my son ate everything in his burrito bowl with minimal mess, all the kids drank water without complaint, and the baby slept the entire time. Eureka!
Since lunch had me feeling so high, I decided we could hit the playground for a quick 20 minutes of outdoor fun. Well my high came to a crashing halt, as the two middle children again began to mess with each other and not respect the “hula hoop of space” rule. My oldest decided she had to be connected to my body, while I held my baby in the shade. It was not a calming time and ceased with orders of mandated naps for the six-year-old and three-year-old, while the nine-year-old was to lay on the couch with a book upon arriving at home.
The Highs and Lows
This morning’s event all happened in a span of four hours. Why was no one on hand to see me rock it as a mom in Chipotle? Why was everyone staring at the meltdown that was swim lessons today? Why do I care and why am I so hard on myself? Because I am a mom and my duty list is intense. In retrospect, I know there were a lot of customers mentally applauding how well my crew did eating their cilantro-lime rice and chicken. I also know that most parents at the pool probably (fingers crossed) did not notice my chaos because they had their own mishaps happening.
It was a roller coaster ride of a summer morning, but focusing on the highs are what got me through the lows. Motherhood is hard because our little ones depend on us so much for absolutely everything. Plus many times our rough patches get put on display for outside audiences, and that is why an encouraging smile from a fellow parent can help so much during a downward spiral. Relishing the good parts of the morning and focusing less on the bad moments can go a long way in making me a more appreciative mom. (Oh, and a few hits of caffeine never hurt either!)
How do you handle the ups and downs of parenting? Leave a comment to let us know your thoughts about today’s blog post.