In which I whimper “Uncle”

Despite an almost four year track record of ink only on paper or skin, in compliance with my simple request—oft repeated and carefully monitored—there’s blue marker on my favorite couch pillow. Just a bit. It’ll come out.

There’s blue marker on my favorite silk headband. Just a bit. It’ll come out.

There’s blue marker on the carpet. Just a bit. It’ll come out.

There are long artistic streaks of blue marker on the backside of the curtains. A lot. It’ll come out. If it doesn’t, they’re cheap and replaceable. And it’s hidden.

The bigger problem is thathis was all before 7am. And then there was a relatively quick oil change at a creepy oil change chain with a tiny, depressing waiting room…jiffy, even—for an adult. But for a four-year-old it was enough time to go through all the toys, books, and snacks I brought then use coffee stirrer after coffee stirrer to spit at Mama and torment strangers and climb on the checkwriting counter and invent new songs and sing them loudly, then quietly when asked, then loudly, then quietly when asked, then loudly, then quietly when hissed at, then loudly until they called our name.

And then there was the supermarket where there was pushing the cart too hard and pulling the cart too fast and running off and responding to gentle and to polite and to clenched teeth and to threats all the same. Begrudgingly, nastily, saucily. And temporarily.

When told he would fall if he climbed on the side of the cart, he got off. When told again, and given a brief reminder about balance and gravity, he got off. When told again, he got off. And when I turned my back to load items onto the conveyor belt of “almost-done-thank-you-lord”-ishness, he tipped the cart, and I caught it with one arm just before it crushed him, righting the cart and wrenching my back all with baby strapped into the wrap on my chest. And I almost cried.

I told you. I told you. I ask everything politely and gently the first time. Second time. Third time. A million times a day you disregard and refuse and ignore and refute and sass. I still don’t know why you don’t listen. I mean…you do, then you don’t. It seems to go beyond the developmentally appropriate hear only what you like. And you totally deserve for that thing to fall on you. I hurt myself helping you. I daily hurt myself trying to help you.

And it doesn’t seem to matter. Whatever you want you do. Whatever I say you don’t want to do and you don’t do. You hit me no fewer than twenty times today just trying to leave school at the same time we always leave school.

I’m so sick of this. I’m done.

Except I can’t be.

This is the only job on the planet you can’t quit.

24 thoughts on “In which I whimper “Uncle”

  1. Oh, my dear, I feel you. I left a similar rant on a forum once and was admonished for being a horrible mom, abusive, yada yada. (well, I wasn’t quite as patient, I actually did wind up screaming at the lil guy) You do what you can, and oh! if only we could know why they choose to listen one moment and not the next! It kills me. “I daily hurt myself helping you” – how true.

    I was hoping you’d have some revelation at the end of this post, hoping that book you referenced recently would have saved the day somehow (I’ve got a copy on hold at the library).

    Please accept whatever peace and comfort I can offer you over cyberspace, just as I look to your posts for comfort in knowing I am not the only SAHM losing my mind : )

  2. Oh, the woe of Wonder Mothers who do it all, in repetitions, get hurt daily, inside and out, doing the only job in the world that you can’t quit without being arrested for abandonment…Hang in there…eventually, he will listen better, he will follow, he will mind. And you will be less physically hurt…((HUGS))

  3. kq, the peace and comfort come in the form of a good cry hearing that you’ve been there, and hearing that you thought I might have gleaned wisdom from this sh*t week. No such luck. But thanks for the cry.

    Maria, too much to hope for. I think I’ll be institutionalized by then.

  4. Longest comment ever coming your way: Excerpt from Miss D’s baby book:

    This morning, I bathed her, got her ready for gymnastics, and let her watch Sesame Street while I talked on the phone to Mama. When I came downstairs, she was stark naked, jumping up and down, yelling “Good Girl!” and had peed on the carpet.

    After gymnastics, I took her to the post office, which is, unfortunately, in the mall. The post office doubles as one of those bulk candy stores. While we’re waiting in line, Daffy grabs one of those enormous all day suckers and looks at me. I say, “You can hold that, but don’t do anything else and stay close to Mommy.” She then grins, turns around and sprints out of the store, down the length of the mall, sucker in hand.

    I yell, “Shit!” and start running after her, but I have packages to mail in my hands and end up dropping them, trying to catch up to her.

    I yell, “Stop, Daffy! Don’t, honey! Wait! Wait for Mommy!” The kid keeps booking it down the mall, never turning once.

    Eventually, I catch her and she decks me, then throws the sucker across the mall. I pick her up and she’s screaming, trying to bite my ear like Mike Tyson, while I’m trying to pick up pieces of broken sucker and and dignity I can muster.

    We get back to the post office (pay for the sucker) and D. is still hollering. The woman behind the counter gives us the stink eye and then tells me that they are out of customs forms and that if I need to send something overseas, I need to go to a different branch.

    I start to cry, I am so frustrated. I haul Daffy into the car, hand over her sippy cup, and as I am driving, she hurls the cup at my head and clocks me, hard.

    This is all before 1pm.

    Hope this helped at all, but if not, I will send you photos of the drawings and carvings (into fireplaces) that she’s done over the years.


  5. Nap, I’m sorry. You’ve had quite a day. Thankfully there is strength in numbers and I am here to add my sob story to the list. Nino just started school this past week and I’d been missing him desperately. Suddenly it felt like the only times of day I got to be with him were super rushed. No more hours of cuddling and playing toys quietly (not that we ever did these things for any length of time or at least not sedately or quietly, but work with me here okay?). Anyway, I was seriously sad about it.

    Then he got croup this week. It was scary at first beacuse he couldn’t breathe and we had to take him to the hospital but then he quickly began to recover. But not enough to go to school of course. So here I am. I got exactly what I wanted. More time with Nino. Wanna know how it went?

    Horribly. Probably because of Nino not feeling super great the boys fought incessantly all day long. My husband called 6 times and each time there was hysterical screaming and crying in the background. I know this sounds awful, but I thought I was going to lose my shit so I put everyone in the car and just drove around for a while with the DVD player on so I could get a moment of peace and quiet.

    When we came home more tantrums and screaming ensued until I finally got everyone to take a nap. Anyway, needless to say, it was not a splendid day. There was no bonding. No cuddles on the couch. No enjoyable moments to remember. Just chaos and mayhem. And while I am still nostalgic for the wonderful times we’ve had this past 6 years together at home, I’m about ready for him to go to school now. (I think. )

  6. @ Kitch That helped so much. Thank you. (Also, sorry. Wanna drink?)
    @Daryl the Keep Coming made me cry. Hard. It’s so awful to remember how small these problems are in perspective, especially so close to the anniversary of his death. The other day I looked at Peanut and though, “So yo, then man, what’s your story?”
    And have I told you lately that your “I’m trying so hard to understand what you’re saying, really, I’m just itching to understand but I can’t when you talk in that voice” anti-whining tactic saves my sanity DAILY?
    @Organic it doesn’t sound terrible to bundle nightmares into the car and drive them around. It sounds like my desperation technique. I’ve done it twice, sobbing the whole time. Both were pre-Butter, but I’m sure I’ll do it again. Passive restraint systems ROCK.

  7. Shoot, I didn’t mean to make you cry or try to provide perspective as if to diminish this problem. Just wanted to offer simple encouragement. The “I’m just itching” line still comes in handy for me on a daily basis too. Very glad it’s helping. :)

  8. Nope, you can’t quit. But have you ever heard of a brand of wine called “Mommy’s Time-Out”? I think you need a case of it…

  9. Oh, I so FEEL you! Hugs and butterflies and balloons and wine and unicorns your way.

    Thank you SO much for posting this. Had two days like this in a row recently and felt like George Costanza (“I’m losing it!!!”). FWIW, you handled it really well. Really, although I know you feel crummy, you were so patient! I, on the other hand, will eventually give in and hiss a bribe because I can No Longer Stand It. Wait, I mean: “a positive motivational reward.”

  10. Positive motivational reward, indeed. For mommy. Like a day off. Even if you have to pay someone. Do it for all the other days when you want that pink slip so badly. And we all feel this way- you are not alone.

  11. Oh, Nap! i have zero advice, but can commiserate.

    My husband is out of town all week, I have a killer sinus infection, and I just moved the kids into bunk beds (shitty timing, but my disaster of a sister in law is moving in this weekend)
    My son threw a full sippy cup of water on my foot, I called him a mother-fucker( this is not my normal behavior, of course), ran into my bedroom, slammed the door, started crying, and both my children were immediately MORE upset, screaming and pounding on the door and I have to apologize for making their ears hurt and scaring them.

    All this, the evening after I receive my Unconditional Parenting DVD in the mail, which I’m waiting to watch until my husband gets back into town. Unconditional, my ass.

  12. Oh god, do I feel for you. It’s hell, hell, hell when they just keep doing something over and over again when you keep saying not to. I try my best never to go to the store with eldest anymore. He’s just too much of a tornado. I wonder if we’ll ever get to the point where it’s not torture being anywhere but a park with that kid. I look at my friends who don’t have their kids in preschool and wonder how they manage. How? I just don’t have the energy and patience for SAHMing without a daily break. I’d be an alcoholic otherwise.

  13. @Daryl Believe me, anything would make me cry yesterday. But Infinite Jest references, from the blindside, always make me cry. I know you didn’t mean it that way, but it’s September and I just get all gobsmacked about Wallace and real pain vs. frustration and kids who make me want to drink.

    @Gibby I have, and I want. But nursing is making me rethink my self medication choices. Caramel is now my coping mechanism of choice. And it’s like Near Beer. Totally doesn’t cut it.

    @Ink what totally sucks is the grocery trip was for ice cream, which was part of the day’s plan before the insane behavior. And I don’t take away stuff like that for shitheadedness because then I don’t get ice cream and because I don’t want to tie ice cream to good behavior. Motivational rewards sound delightful. May I have one if I’m good? I have one ready for you because you deserve one after the week you’ve had.

    @Evenshine that’s why I pay the preschool. But they need to develop a 20-year program to complement three-hour version.

    @dirtdonthurt please don’t hate me for laughing. I really needed a laugh, and your motherfucking children pretty much handled it. ;-) Sorry. It feels so good to not be alone. Go read Kitch’s day from a few years ago. We can all start a club.

    @Fie I’ve always thought binge drinking and I would get along swimmingly. Must try someday when not solely responsible for small people who can’t drive themselves to the hospital, and/or eat solids.

  14. I’ve so been there and was thinking all day about how it sometimes seems to be better, now that the older one is almost 6. But before I could write something, you know, sort of hopeful, she threw a screaming, hysterical crying fit at dinner time because her sister stopped the Elmo DVD and we couldn’t get it back to the precise nanosecond where it had been–in part because she couldn’t remember the precise nanosecond, only knew that everything we tried was WRONG.

    But really, it does often seem to be better….

  15. Oh, Mama…

    If I told you that yesterday, when I was home sick with Tankbaby and MOTH was out, I threw not one, but two things across the room at two different moments (actually, three things if you count the tupperware I threw after the plastic playdoh knife made a really unsatisfying drifty thwap when it landed), would that help? And I have a DEGREE in this shit.

    I think you are amazing.

  16. @Leslie I really wish I didn’t laugh at that DVD pain, but I did. Just a little. And with a hope in my heart that she went to bed exhausted that night without a fight.
    @Falling I LOVE that you threw something better after the first thing thudded disappointingly. Love it. Must look into throwing. I just hate cleaning up too much, and satisfying throws tend to splatter.

    @Ink Hilarious that you mention Costanza because I’ve been hollering “serenity now!” at the top of my whisper lately.

  17. I felt my insides well up as I read this…so personal, yet so universal. (And beautifully written.)

    “I hurt myself helping you. I daily hurt myself trying to help you.” YES. Again and again and again. It is at those moments when I close my eyes and breathe with relief that I decided not to homeschool.

  18. “And with a hope in my heart that she went to bed exhausted that night without a fight.”

    Well, she did (though I also didn’t fight laying down with her–house stuff and grown-up TV be damned). Her drama comes in several flavors: this one I’m pretty sure is stress/blood sugar related, so once she calms down enough to eat something she’s usually OK. Better than OK. Maybe by the time she’s in high school I’ll have figured out how to see it coming.

    We’re visiting relatives this weekend. I really really hope she keeps it in check, because I really, really, really don’t want to have my parenting methods critiqued, however quietly or obliquely, by my various inlaws.

  19. I am reading this at the end of a day that has left me exhausted to tears, empty and wanting and to curl up in ball and hibernate from parenting for a good decade or so. It is relentless, this job. I try to comfort myself with the knowledge that there must be a day of sanity and joy around the corner…surely.

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