We are nearing the end of our Spring Break, and I say fakking-finally. Not only has the weather been terrible (minus-double-digits and friggin’ snow!), but I am once again counting the hours until my children go back to school and I go back to work.
We tried to take a trip to the dollar store, and a $10 trip ended up being more than $30 as I found myself offering to buy them tons of stupid stuff just so they would STFU and stay still while I found my few items.
When we got home, I felt my anger rising as I noticed that they had spilled a whole freaking Gatorade bottle (of water, luckily) on the carpet. I yelled and clapped my hands at them. While I was losing it, I apologised for my rudeness, but I just felt out of control. I have spent dozens of hours organising and tidying our family room, and within minutes, the children had turned the entire room into a disaster area. I was pissed. The water spill was just the poo icing on the rancid cake.
Needless to say, I am no fun to be around. I am sick, menstruating, and grumpy, and I just want to be left alone to prepare for work tomorrow and to clean the kitchen. And to play the new computer game that I bought—I needed something to enjoy on this so-far terrible day. I am stuck with my kids all day until their dad gets home from work.
But guess what? It occured to me that while I am stuck with them, they are stuck with me. And that must be an awful lot of no-fun for them. I feel badly for the stressful and difficult day that they are experiencing, in addition to feeling pissed about the stressful and difficult day that I am experiencing. I’m sure that they are looking forward to being away from me, as I am looking forward to being away from them. And truthfully, they are handling it way better than I am.
It is unhealthy and unnatural for a parent to be cloistered with their kids—it’s not functional for anyone. I’m not saying that there should be no such thing as a “stay-at-home parent”–I’m saying that our traditional narrative of a stay-at-home parent is messed up. We need community in order to be healthy. We all need to be around people that we enjoy being around, and we need to do meaningful work daily in order to be happy. These things can coincide with a “stay-at-home” life, but they don’t for me, and I’m okay with that.
I need to have that moment in the morning when I give my kiddos a hug and kiss, then wave them goodbye and go to work. I sing loudly in the car on my way, and prepare for the day ahead. Time away from my children is essential for my happiness. What I usually fail to recognise is that, very likely, time away from me is essential for their happiness.
They don’t deserve to be stuck in a house with a grumpy mommy. They don’t deserve to feel that they are letting me down. They deserve to be around well-rested adults who want to be around them. I know it doesn’t always work out that way, but at least we can give it a shot.
Ugh, my youngest is crying now. They were supposed to be resting, but instead they pulled out every.single.item of clothing they own and threw it onto their floor. I threatened to take away their new dollar store toys if they don’t clean up right away. My oldest is pretending to be a wild cat, and my youngest is wailing. And I’m dreaming of when my kids are grown and they can be out of my hair. I’m sure they’re dreaming of being out of my hair too.