Y’all … the past few months, I have felt myself going flat. out. crazy.
Moody. Cranky. Volatile. Impatient. Overwhelmed.
And every situation where all of these reactions surfaced involved one or two or all of my children.
The trenches of motherhood are hard. Every moment finds me ducking down for cover or jumping out, war-face set, charging into battle. And every night, I crawl into bed — battered and bloody and bone-weary — my heart beating to the rhythms of regret and guilt.
I yelled. I sighed. I walked away. I locked myself in the bathroom just to breathe in silence for two minutes.
My children are beautiful, funny, stubborn, hard-headed and fierce little warriors who know which buttons to push … what phrases to say … how to launch an offensive that leaves me stunned and wondering how in the world we’ll survive the future with three teenagers.
Seriously — these short people are 2, 4, and 6!! Mere babies next to my 35 years of life. WHY IN THE WORLD do I find myself being emotionally agitated and beaten by people who still can’t dress themselves properly or remember to brush their teeth? They depend on me for hygiene, food, and all of their basic needs but, in a single afternoon, the Kidlets can bring me to my knees.
“But, don’t you know these are the best years of your life,” my Grandmother likes to say about this time of parenting littles. Sixty years ago, a well-meaning woman said those words while she watched Grandma struggle with her own three small ones.
The Best Years Of Your Life.
Some days, yes, they are. There are moments — and days — when they all get along … when the parenting decisions I make don’t render their lives “ruined” forever (yes, my people are dramatic) … when they are collectively creative and hilarious and sweet and cuddly and even smell good.
Those Pinterest moments always tease me, causing me to think that the war is over. Surely, I find myself believing, the worst is over and we’ve settled into a new peaceful rhythm.
I’m usually brought back to reality by the shrieks of a fight over a grimacing T-Rex, or the piercing high-pitched yells of “NO BOYS ALLOWED”, or the familiar cadence of someone coming in to tattle.
I am an introvert raising extroverted, high-maintenance children. I never dreamed that my very real need to withdraw for the purpose of recharging and centering myself would be challenged once I had children. After months and months of constant contact with my children, without a moment to just stop and move away (for a solitary cup of coffee or to read a book or to do something that would pull my brain out of its primal, survival mode), I have discovered myself being reactionary instead of intentional — prioritizing the fires that need put out and then looking for what needs my attention next.
Then, just when I thought I really was in danger of pulling my hair out, in stepped my Mother with the offer to watch my children for a nearly two-week “Camp Gramie” experience.
I’m on day four now of a quiet house. Day four without someone telling me they hate what I’ve made for dinner. Day four without someone getting hurt at the hands of another. Day four of going to the bathroom alone.
I know that by the end of this Mommy Vacation, I will miss all of the chaos fiercely and I’ll be ready to feel sticky arms wrapped around my neck or feel a sleep-heavy head on my chest. But — today — I am almost guilty over how much I am enjoying time alone. Time to reconnect with my husband. Time to recharge. Time to remember who I am and who I want to be as a Mother.
The Husband and I have had more conversations in the past four days than we’d exchanged in the past 4 months. We’ve laughed at each others jokes like a newly dating couple does, eaten at every restaurant in town where we didn’t dare take our children, and sat down together for honest evaluations of our parenting this past year. And, as we’ve talked, I’ve learned that Daddy has been in survival mode too and needed a break as much as Mommy did.
Parenting … the only job where you don’t automatically earn a yearly two-week vacation but you should. We should all be so blessed to have wise mothers and grandmothers who recognize the desperate look in our eyes, remembering a similar time when YOU were a small and mighty and fierce warrior, always ready for battle.
Yes, I feel guilty that I’m not with my children. I feel guilty that they are in another state being coddled and spoiled by grandparents. I feel guilty that I’m enjoying my time away from them.
I feel very guilty.
But … also … a bit giddy.
‘Cause the bathroom has never been so quiet.