I had one last night. On my kids. It had been one of "those" kind of days. You know the ones..... when you wake up, look at your "to do" list for life and feel like you are drowning? One of those days (weeks in my case) when you can't get a grip on anything? I'm sorry to say the melt-down has been developing for sometime and seemed somewhat inevitable since I am human and all.
It was a Monday (kinda bad Karma in our house already)....so I should have been on guard. Two of the kids stayed home sick (stomach flu again). I started going through the house room to room surveying the weekend damage. I had high hopes (although apparently completely unrealistic) that maybe the healthy kids might (just might) remember to pick up their dirty clothes and hang up their towels before heading to school. Silly me.
A few months ago I tried a new approach to getting my kids to be responsible for the basics. And mind you, after seventeen years, I've tried a lot of approaches. This new one involved me charging them a flat rate (one dollar) every time I had to do one of their responsibilities for them. Ok...ready for a list of those responsibilities...it's epic (sarcasm)....hang up your wet towels, put your dirty clothes in a hamper, put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and put your shoes away. That's it. That's all. So, as I was saying, I was going through the house, room to room and becoming more angry by the second. At one point I caught a glimpse of my own reflection in the girls bathroom mirror, and it was kinda scary. I think my eye was even twitching. It was one of those moments when I knew I was on this bad downward spiral, but couldn't pull out of it. And honestly, didn't want to. The monologue in my brain
Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me??? How hard can it be to put your clothes in the hamper instead of right in front of it? This bathroom looks like armagedon! They never listen....
(continuing into the playroom)
Really? Goldfish ground into the carpet again? And wow! eight pair of dirty socks, I think that's a record (monologue sarcasm).
And on, and on, from there. Until, by the time I'd walked the whole house, all four of them were going to be grounded forever. But then, I tried to regroup. I called Gregg, gave him the low down, and told him I wanted to have a family meeting that night. I tried to look at the situation rationally and come up with a strategy to positively approach the kids. I thought it would be a good discussion. Then I tried to do the rest of my day and face "the list".
That night, guess what? I started out our "discussion" calmly. And then, out of nowhere, I was recalling my morning and ranting and raving and yelling. I said things like, "It would be nice if you could show me a little more respect, after seventeen years, I believe I've earned it!" (Jack Nicholson really?). I even said things like, "and I hope when you're a mom your kids treat you the same way and then you'll know how I feel!" (nice, huh). When I thought I was done, I looked at Gregg and said, "Anything you want to add?" Being the wise man that he is, he said, "Nope, I think you've pretty much covered it."
And then, because I was still furious and needed to attempt to regroup (again) I grabbed my keys and my purse and announced, "I'm leaving." So, I got in my car and just starting driving. I ended up at the new gilbert temple site. I parked my car and sat in the dark. I opened my sun roof and was surprised to see the big dipper perfectly framed. I took some deep breaths. And then, I let out what I'd been fighting all day. Big crocodile tears. And it felt good to cry. And then I prayed for some guidance to keep doing my life. And I looked at the stars some more. And, I felt a little better.
In reality, my kids are totally normal kids with normal kid behaviors. And I am a totally normal mom who, like all moms, has an occasional melt-down now and then. Does that mean I'm going to give up on my kids or on myself? Of course not. Because my kids are capable. And someday they will go on to do much more important things then hang up their wet towels. Like become parents.