Just in case I haven’t already admitted it, I will do it again. I am totally overwhelmed by my kids.
There are days when I am overwhelmed with joy that that are mine.
Other days when I am overwhelmed by their awesomeness.
But honestly, most days I am overwhelmed with the sheer task of shaping these three tiny monsters into respectable members of society.
Maybe I am easily overwhelmed.
I’d like to think that I’m fairly clear headed and unflappable, but the reality might be a bit different.
I find myself asking the kids “why won’t you listen to me? Seriously am I speaking out loud?!”
Every day I recommit, I tell myself, “Self today is the day we are going to take control! Today is the day we are going to get a handle on things, today we are NOT going to sweat the small stuff!”
Let’s be brutally honest here, today is not the day I am going to take control. Today is the day I am going to attempt to take control, and by breakfast I will be reminded that it’s not going to happen for me.
Today was a beautiful example of being overwhelmed by my delightful little people.
The day started… Ok.
I got Harry Potter off to school without too much yelling (ever tried to get an ADHD kid out the door by 7:09… I deserve a freaking medal) and then… angry AsthmaMan woke up.
From the moment he opened his eyes things went badly.
He was angry his brother left before he got up, angry his dad wasn’t there, angry his sister wasn’t up yet, angry there was no school today… just angry. And it was the beautiful 4 year old kind of angry where objects are thrown, they scream, and it ends in ugly tears.
So that went… badly.
He decided to find the iPad and hide so he could watch Power Rangers.
I found him, he yelled, threw things (including the iPad), he screamed, he kicked me, he calmed down long enough to run upstairs and wake his sister up. She came down crying (because who wants angry AsthmaMan interrupting their otherwise peaceful dreams), and we attempted to eat breakfast.
By this point AsthmaMan was a disaster. He didn’t want his sister to smile, look at him, or be happy… even though he’d been the one to wake her up because he “missed” her.
He threw his placemat on the floor, attempted to knock his yogurt off the table, and when that didn’t work he picked on his sister.
Eventually we tucked our crazy back in and went to the library.
I’d promised the Princess we could go to the library yesterday, but it was closed for staff development, and this morning she remembered that promise… yep… so we got to go today… with angry AsthmaMan.
His anger continued at the nice quiet library.
He got on the iPad there, I pulled him off, he screamed, he ran, he kicked, he pulled things off the shelves, he got back on the iPad, the whole thing repeated several times. Meanwhile his sister had a great time and since she loves the library and I’d promised to take her, I couldn’t pull her away just quite yet.
Then he attempted to leave the library… alone.
We hightailed it out of there (shockingly we were not asked to leave) and headed to church playgroup at Chick Fil-A.
If I hadn’t been the host, we would have ditched this. I was so angry by that point that my hands were shaking.
We walked in and the screaming, bossing me around, demanding, whining, and crying continued at full volume.
I’ll admit there was a point where I pushed AsthmaMan into the playplace and held the door shut so he couldn’t come out.
And… another moment where I told him “Mommy needs a time out from you!” in an angry voice.
It was beautiful.
I got looks from the other moms with well behaved children… what would that even be like?
As we were leaving someone told AsthmaMan and the Princess that they were awesome kids and I wanted to scream “are you KIDDING me?! He has been a nightmare!”… but I reminded myself that she hadn’t seen the whole morning, she had just seen the end when they had been awesome kids and gotten their own shoes on.
So I’m overwhelmed.
I don’t write this to ask for pity or even advice. I write it, because I think there is some power in admitting and embracing our reality.
Today, this week, this year, this decade even, I am overwhelmed by my kids. I am overwhelmed by their endless demands, mood swings, and incessant talking. I’m overwhelmed because most days we take one baby step forward and 5,000 steps back. I’m overwhelmed because life is chaos control rather than progress.
But… I’m also realistic.
This day, this week, this year, and this decade (or two) are hard, but the next one might be easier. This is how we learn and grow, the most rewarding things often come at the highest price.
This week I’ve thought a lot about how parenting is one of my biggest challenges. I thought I would be better at it than I am, and I thought I would learn faster than I have. It’s hard for me, every single day presents new struggles.
But I’ve also thought a lot about how struggle is the way that I learn.
Some people do well by reading, others by hearing the experiences of wiser people, but I am hard headed and I learn through practice and failure. I learned to cook one burnt failure after another, and parenting has been the same.
I feel overwhelmed constantly, but I’m fairly certain that if I could put my new mom self into a room with my tired, grumpy, overwhelmed mom self I’d be a little bit impressed with her abilities.
So I’m tired, grumpy, and overwhelmed, but maybe this what parenting looks like for me. Maybe it looks like keeping your head down and keep on keeping on. Maybe it isn’t sunshine, roses, and trampolines, maybe it isn’t dance parties, and loving every moment- maybe the way I shape strong capable people is one public meltdown after another.
So I’ll admit it, I am just as overwhelmed as I look. I am counting the minutes until nap time and bedtime, Tuesday aka preschool day is my favorite day of the week, and I fantasize about going on vacation alone (ok staying home and everyone else going on vacation without me).
But that is just today, this phase, and this moment. There are beautiful moments between the bouts of screaming, chaos and tears. There are beautiful lessons, and growing experiences every day.
So yes, I am overwhelmed, but that’s ok. I am overwhelmed, but know that it will get better. I’m not drowning I’m treading water, some day I’ll be swimming fast, until then I’ll just embrace this beautiful (and terrible) moment.