Way, way back I wrote, rather brilliantly I think, that being the parent of a two-year-old is a constant reminder that you are an utter failure. Those little beasts are just constantly challenging you, and often by the end of the day, you’re at your wits’ ends and barely clinging to your sanity.
The bad thing is those trying moments never really go away, they just come from different angles and although not the constant barrage of toddler-dom, are sometimes even more stressful as your kids get older.
This past weekend should have been fantastic. The weather was gorgeous both days. We had our family Easter celebration scheduled for Sunday. The swim team the girls will be joining in five weeks had an informational meeting later Sunday to get the season kicked off. We got lots of things done around the house.
Despite all of that, I spent most of Sunday in a pretty profound funk because I was thoroughly fed up with my daughters. There was a massive meltdown Saturday morning when one daughter returned from a sleep-over.1 Later two sisters, who have been struggling in each other’s company lately, got into it multiple times. There was whining, fighting, disobedience, clingy-ness all damn day. Things wrapped up when one sister knocked the other out of line to swing, and on her ass, at a friend’s house. It’s always a fun moment when I, while gritting my teeth, shout, “THAT’S IT! TIME TO GO!” and march them away in front of other parents and kids.
Sunday had all kinds of other nonsense. Unfortunately for my girls, I began the day with a bad mood hangover from Saturday and they never got any slack from me. More arguing, whining, tears, complaints, inattentiveness to parental requests. By the end of the day I was walking around stewing about everything. Each time I found bits of granola bar sprinkled over the rug, or piles of cereal under the table, or the leftover bits of Easter candy (from last week) in the sunroom that had attracted an army of ants, my mood darkened more. By bedtime I was barely talking to any of them.
I keep telling myself that our girls are, mostly, good kids. They don’t get into trouble at school. We don’t get reports that the behavior we see at home is repeated in school or at homes of friends. I suppose that’s a trade I’m willing to make: my sanity in exchange for children who behave with manners and respect in public.
A good friend told me, shortly before I got married, that marriage was the hardest thing she had ever done. I didn’t know at the time that she was separated and would be divorced from her husband a year later. She was speaking from (bad) experience.
I agree that marriage is hard work. But I think parenting is much harder. I feel like any problems you have with your spouse can be discussed in rational terms. Every parent knows that logic often doesn’t hold when attempting to get your children to behave. Your spouse may drive you crazy, but it seems like we can eventually understand the behavior of adults. Kids…they will drive you mad as you attempt to figure out why the hell they’re disobeying rules that have been in place for years, or continue to exhibit patterns of behavior that you’ve made clear over and over again are not acceptable.
Things were better this morning. I’ve vowed to put this weekend behind us, and will work to be more patient and understanding. That might be the most important thing we can do as parents. Find a way to somehow get beyond all the nonsense.
But I always know more idiotic behavior is right around the corner.
And mine aren’t even teenagers yet…
I’m not naming which kid did what so that the blame gets spread evenly. They were all knuckleheads, though, so no one gets off lightly. ↩