The last few days, my nine-year-old, Peter, has been doing such a good job of driving me crazy that I swore he was trying to actually bug me to death.
His barrage of questions and requests for everything from going to the beach in the pouring rain, to begging me for a magic wand to turn him into a teenager like his older brother, had me scraping the bottom of the barrel for whatever was left in my mommy reserves.
In my fifteen years of being a stay-at-home-mom, I’ve had my share of tough days.
It’s not easy to be the primary caregiver of three kids. Especially with a husband who starts his long commute into NYC around 7 each morning and usually doesn’t get home till past 9 each night.
I know I’m not alone. Any time I talk to one of my mom friends, I hear the same thing. Caring for children can make even the most serene and experienced of us turn into babbling fools.
As I was dealing with Peter the other day, wanting to tear every hair out of my head, I thought back to a time about three years ago when I was in a similar position.
The kids and I were eating dinner together, and each one of my darlings was doing their best to see who would win most annoying child of the year. I was completely out of patience and was dangerously close to losing it.
Then something just clicked from deep within me.
Using all the years of vocal training my parents paid for, I sang in my best soprano voice: Tom don’t argue with me… Peter eat like a human… Lizzy use real words,
The top opera divas had nothing on me that night.
The kids stopped in their tracks and looked up at me as if they had finally succeeded in driving the old lady insane.
Then they really knew I lost it when I insisted that for the remainder of the meal, any request or complaint needed to be sung.
I must have looked serious because they complied, and for a few minutes we had our own little production of “Mommy’s finally flipped.”
Suffice it to say, we all started laughing. And I got through another meal without selling one of my children to the circus.
The next day I knew our little production made an impression on Lizzy, my special needs daughter, when I got a note home from her teacher.
Apparently Lizzy had gotten frustrated when she couldn’t move her chair to her satisfaction, but instead of screaming, she started singing this fact in what sounded like opera.
I couldn’t stop laughing when I read: Isn’t that funny Kathy, where could she have picked that up?
I was glad I remembered that night as I was dealing with Peter because just as I was that night, I was desperate. Taking a page from my strategies-of-last-resort-book, I started making very silly faces at him. Then I made every goofy sound I could think of.
This was enough to shock Peter out of his mood, and he started to crack up. As did Lizzy who was watching me carefully.
The mood changed instantly. I felt better and so did Peter. We were then able to pick up Tom from his friend’s house, and the rest of the night went on without anything too stressful.
Days like this make me very grateful that I have always managed to do a few things to keep my reserve tank from hitting below empty.
For me that includes seeing a therapist to talk over parenting strategies and to keep a handle on my own stress and issues in my life. As well as taking the medication that is prescribed for me to deal with my anxiety.
I’m also lucky enough to have the support of my husband and a host of friends and family that I can call upon when I’m feeling as if I might lose it. And when they’re not available I use my online friends and let them know I am in danger of losing the few remaining brain cells I have left.
I firmly believe it takes a village to not only raise a child, but to raise a mom. And I’m very grateful for mine.