One of the things about motherhood that I still don't get, even after more than a dozen years of this parenting gig, is how I can feel so many things about my children in the span of one day.
Take yesterday. Please. My morning started wonderfully. I was up, showered, and out the door with the kids by 7:45. I don't know about you, but if I'm showered and ready first thing? I've got the tiger by the tail, baby. A bad day always involves me in a shirt, no bra, sweat in places where moisture shouldn't be, and piles of things to do. A good day? Well, yesterday looked to be headed in that direction.
It started at the kids' school. This year, the older three are all at the same school. You have no idea how much this enhances my life. The name of my blog largely was born from the fact that I had three kids in three different schools. Not. Fun. So instead of doing a little at each school, PTA at one, Girl Scouts at another, and so on, I am able to focus my energies in one place. And it feels wonderful. I met with our PTA president, made the rounds in my kids' classrooms, and charted out my plan of attack for the first half of the school year. This kind of stuff really makes me happy. I've always done PTA (or PTO or PTG) and when we lived in Georgia I even sat on a Department of Defense school board (now that is another story all together).
Then I thought I'd head to the gym, where I would stash Jack in the nursery and get a workout in before lunch and picking up Jacob from kindergarten. Except Jack wasn't in the mood to let mom get her endorphin rush, and the workout was cut short because Jack doesn't understand that the only reason I'm not on some cocktail of pharmaceuticals is because I self-medicate with exercise. So I was irrationally irritated at my one year-old for not understanding that I just needed thirty more minutes on the elliptical. Which made me feel guilty, and subsequently more pissy for feeling that way in the first place. Aack.
Then I picked up Jacob. He was in a mood: surly, disheveled, and not wanting to come home. I knew he'd be fine in kindergarten. "Mom! I want to keep playing!" I explained that he got to stay with me for the afternoon and that we would be doing fun(!) things like grocery shopping and heading to the post office, and maybe even the craft store to obtain 342 miniature starfish for a PTA project. Jacob growled at me in a very scary neanderthal way he has that makes me worry he will be a thug one day (does anyone else do this? Project dire things into the future when their child acts in anti-social ways? ). He huffed his way into the car and screamed at me that I got an X! Jacob has recently taken to keeping mental files on each of the family members, and an X? Not a mark you want in your file.
Then, the girls. My precious, hormone soaked, mercurial girls. Notice I didn't say bitchy. Because that would be wrong.
As they skipped out of their classrooms after school, my heart swelled with pride. They are just so lovely, so full of life, and already more than I ever expected they could be. I paused to talk to each of their teachers, happy that so far each girl seems to be doing swimmingly. What gets me is this: in school and anywhere else, they have a smile on their faces, they are helpful, polite and articulate. They jump to help others and are kind to kids younger than them. When I see this, I feel at peace with how I've done so far as a mother.
By the time we get home, this facade has unraveled, the faces of two delightful girls in a puddle at the bottom of my car, having been replaced with those dreadful stepsisters from Cinderella. They are at each other's throats, or bickering with Jacob, or heaving heavy sighs of pain because they just learned we won't be having dessert with dinner. Sometimes the eye rolling becomes so severe I am forced to wonder if they are indeed experiencing a Grand Mal seizure. Ghetto kids have nothing on my girls. My girls have to clean their own rooms, wipe down their own bathrooms and generally be helpful around the house before riding their bikes, or climbing the tree house or being transported to one of the myriad of activities they've suckered me into signing them up for. It's a hard life, and they let me know it with door slams, stomping, and furrowed brows. Occasionally, a venom laced invective is hurled my way through a closed door and I have to remind myself that I choose to stay home with these people. It is, in fact, a privilege.
All these feelings, in the span of less than one day. It wears me out. My hope for today, as I reflect on yesterday, is that I obtain that thick outer shell I've somehow lost over the summer and not take the mood swings and normal squabblings of children so personally. And that my state legalizes the use of elephant tranquilizers on children.