I failed so badly today.
So, I yelled at my daughter tonight. What’s new, right?
But this time, I really yelled.
It wasn’t fair to her, I see that now, but I couldn’t help it.
I didn’t yell at her because she left her uniform in a heap on the floor again. Or because she left the kitchen door wide open again or because she was mean to her little sister again.
I blew up because while I was getting them ready for their umpteenth soccer practice that week, she said, “You don’t ever stay to watch our practice.”
I snapped. I screamed at my 7-year-old. She couldn’t possibly be serious saying that – when all I ever do these days is spend my waking hours getting them to school, to practice, cooking, cleaning, correcting homework, helping with fifth grade science projects that make me want to gouge my eyes out – that she couldn’t possibly NOT see how hard I’m trying every day.
With one man down in this household, I won’t lie, many days suck. Let’s take Mondays for example.
I taxi one to practice, come home to either fix dinner or let the dog out then go back to the field to drop off the twins for their practice and pick up the other. I race home to bathe that one, let the dog out and feed my son (who’s luckily gotten a ride home from a friend) and then I go back to the fields to pick the twins up and race home to give them a bath in time so we can still do our nightly reading and any other homework they’ve forgotten about or haven’t finished yet.
When she’s got gymnastics on Wednesdays, I rarely have time to sit and watch either – because I’m racing around taking care of the other three kids. But it kills me. I see those other moms sitting there, witnessing their kid’s first roundoff back handspring. The beam routine in which she DOESN’T fall off. They get to sit there for an hour and a half. Idle. Watching. So yes, to my daughter, it seems as though mom didn’t stay to watch practice. If she’s only looking at the logistics, I wasn’t there. I wanted to scream and cry at her to tell her it’s not that I don’t WANT to stay and watch her. But 7-year-olds don’t understand very well how moms can’t be two or three places at once and if we could, well, life would be so much easier.
She doesn’t realize that if only things were the way I wanted, I would be there watching while her daddy cooked or he took her brother to practice or let the dog out or started the bath. If only things were ideal, daddy and I would both be able to come to the games and cheer them on. We would both be able to take them to church together or go to Sunday brunch as a family. “If only” are such gut-wrenching words these days.
She doesn’t know my heartbreak when she reminds me, “Mommy, you are always on your phone!” I know she doesn’t get that I’m most likely studying my iPhone calendar trying to figure out how I’m going to be at three separate soccer games at precisely the same time Saturday morning and when I do pick which game to see, how to tell her siblings I won’t be at theirs. She doesn’t know I’m likely texting someone to help me give them rides home afterward. I’m likely checking my TeamSnap app to update her brother’s tournament times, which happen to be for games in Indianapolis, and how I’ll handle the rest of the kids while I’m with my son 150 miles away all weekend long. She doesn’t get that I am likely looking at the online menu at Outback buying four overpriced mac and cheese dinners to pick up on the way home.
I can’t beat what’s happening to us. I can’t win at the logistics here. I am only trying to hold my head up above water long enough not to drown. I hate that my kids see me drowning. I feel sick every time I snap at them. It’s not their fault they don’t understand… it’s not their fault these are our cards right now. I’m just hoping they can look back and remember the days I swam, and know how hard I tried keeping up.
Andrea, you are not failing at motherhood in the least! Stop beating yourself up for what you are not doing. You are obviously a very attentive and caring mother, but you can’t do it all. It’s not a given that you have to attend every event that your children participate in. They need to know that it’s not always all about them. There are other things in your life that are important as well and they will have to share you! You are giving them all the love that they need but not going to watch a few of their events is not a big deal–unless you make it one. When you get that, you can explain to your children how lucky they are to be on that team and you love that they enjoy it. Tell them that you will be there as much as humanly possible but you don’t owe that to them. If you give them permission to make you feel guilty, then you are only making it harder on yourself. My children are grown now and I look back on times where I felt a little guilty about what I didn’t do and I was a stay at home mom who was there for them all the time. However, in talking to my children about it now, they’ve told me that they know you loved us but taught us independence and that it’s not always just about us. They are pretty awesome young adults now.
My heart goes out to you guys. You CAN do this. The cards you’ve been dealt suck at present. But hang in there.
Thanks so much for your kind words … some days are worse than others!
Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. We continue to hang in there doing the best we can with this new normal…
It sounds like you are all doing too much. Too many things, too many expectations, too many appointments, too much stress. Make a commitment to choosing less, even just for a week, and recalibrate.