I’ve finally figured out the scariest Halloween costume. We don’t practice Halloween in our house, but I’ve always kind of wondered (in a back-of-my-mind, never-really-thought-about, detached kind of way) what it would be. I’m sure no one has actually realized the genius (or crazy) this costume requires. It’s not a zombie. It’s not a goblin. It’s not a toddler given too much candy.
It’s a Mom at home away from public view.
The school year is officially swinging and there are activities and classes and extracurriculars and spouses who have to work real late. There are moms who can’t get their kids anywhere on time. Being a parent is no joke. It’s hard. It’s amazing. It’s tiring. It’s exhilarating. It’s irritating. It’s sweet. You see? Do you see all those oxymorons? I’m getting annoyed just reading them.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never verbally exploded or vomited (verbally, you sickos) on my kids in public. You better believe I came close more times than I can count, but the public has always been an unnoticed buffer for my kids. How many times have you heard your mom say to you, “You are in so much trouble when we get home.” Or, “You just wait until we get home.” No? No one’s going to fess up to that? I will; oh man, nothing was scarier than my mom delivering very real threats through her teeth. Even though it was a daily occurrence (I was, what I like to call, spirited as a child), the the scare factor never left.
Don’t tell my mom, but even today if I heard those phrases come through her teeth, I would stop in my tracks as a trickle of sweat – that was produced at the mere sound of her angry voice – raced down my back.
My Mom is amazing and I’ve always said I want to be the Mom she is. Maybe that’s why I utter those same phrases to my misbehaving children. Granted, because they’re 6 and 3 I don’t have to do it often, but I still find the necessity from time to time. It’s hard to know how to handle a 3YO who acts like she’s been wounded in war every time you suggest changing her diaper or a 6 YO who finds it liberating to frequently test her boundaries.
When people see me coming in late again they just think it’s because it’s me. Admittedly, I’ve almost always been late, but not like this. They don’t understand that some days I’ve genuinely forgotten what day it was, or that 3YO wouldn’t stop screaming until she went through three pairs of shoes to end up with the first pair. They don’t understand that 6YO wouldn’t stop offering toys to 3YO only to yank it away at the last minute. They don’t understand I clearly took no effort in my appearance, so it’s not my vanity causing my tardiness.
My point is, I’m late for everything every day and that makes me mad. I feel like I don’t have time for myself and that makes me mad. I get headaches from all the yelling and screaming, and that makes me mad. I am a woman and a mother and sometimes I’m just mad for no real reason. I’ll talk and lecture and, yes, sometimes yell at my kids until we exit the car at whatever destination we’ve made it to. The moment we hit fresh air, my switch flips and a (brittle) smile stays on my face, mostly.
Some of those scenarios were exaggerated but in those moments when things are happening, that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s why we yell and why we feel like we’re going to lose it. When we’re in public, sometimes we’re forced to either see the situation in an new light and we apologize by giving of ourselves to our kids. If the situation is happening in public you realize how sad your life would be if you didn’t have your kids, so in the greatest battle of wills you’ve ever experienced, you manage to withhold the yelling until alone.
Kids: remember this golden nugget, because your parents (this one included) are going to do what’s necessary to keep you from it.
Parents: remember you’re human. You’re going to yell, you’re going to screw up, your kids are probably going to tell you that you’re ruining their lives or that they hate you at one point or another. Your job isn’t to be perfect or not make mistakes. Your job is to raise kids right. To raise kids who know they’re loved and they don’t have to be perfect. If you are a yeller, like me, it’s okay to apologize to them. In fact, I’m going to demand you get in the habit of apologizing more often.
If you practice Halloween, you’ve got a pretty easy costume this year. If you’re like us and don’t practice the holiday, make sure when you answer the door you’re in mid at-home-mom mode. Give those kids a good healthy scare and make them be a little more thankful for their parents.
It takes a village, ya’ll, and I’ll help you out.