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Monday, August 13, 2012

the hardest job

Today marked one of those parenting days that I just felt heartbroken at the end of.

There are about three different possibilities that days can fall into when you are a parent in primary charge of your kids safety, amusement, care, entertainment and culinary experience:

1. Parenting Rockstar - unprecedented success in strategy and parenting know-how.  (These days are rare and, while you should indulge in some back patting, they are largely due to a collective good mood, agreeable children and a well-rested, fulfilled parent- a rarity in the parenting world.)

2. Balanced scale-  You won some, you lost some.  You had moments of brilliance, top shelf parenting technique and some A-game work coupled with some could-have-done betters, if-only-I'd-kept-my-mouth-shuts, and a few next-time-I'll-knows (If you're lucky about 90% of days spent alone with children fall into this category.

3. Loss of license required:   You tipped the scales to more bad than good.  You were more angry and irritable than loving and affectionate.  You forgot not to argue with a four-year-old, got caught in the emotional turmoil of a seven-year-old and heard yourself yelling on more than one occasion.  These are the days you are left feeling like a parenting course should have been mandatory, that you should just hire someone else who can do a better job than you and that you should wake your kids up after they fall asleep to apologize and make it right again.  (You pray these days are very, very rare.)

Okay, so I had a day number 3 today with my kids.  And the first half of Friday was a 3 that I turned into a 2.  And, to be utterly honest, last Thursday morning when we were trying to leave the house on time for a ferry departure that we didn't end up needing to make because fog cancelled our trip... that was a 2 tipping into a 3. 

Sure, I would love to set limits without anger, but I would also like to keep my size 6 jeans with no effort on my part and I don't see that happening anytime soon.   Yes, I would like to think it wouldn't get under my skin when my seven-year-old complains that there is a microscopic brown spot on her peach, that one of her grape tomatoes is too large, cries over the loss of a hairbrush and laments the unfairness of a trip to the grocery store all in the span of a few hours.  But, truth be told, my capacity for complaining and pickiness if actually quite low.  In the limbo game of tolerance, I am more a knees bent at a critical angle, back nearly touching the floor kind of person.

I did redeem myself a few times today, mostly by just shutting my mouth.   I need to remember that kids are kids and sometimes it is more helpful to say, "I hear what you are saying" rather than, "Stop complaining."  I tried to dole out a lot of hugs and love with the stern limits I felt I had to set today when there was some between-sister biting, kicking and,  yes, oh yes, a tussle involving trying to fit two bottoms on one toilet seat.

I would be lying if I told you that I wasn't overcome with relief when my mom showed up to watch the girls so I could go to work.  And if I wasn't equally pleased to go get a Pap after seeing only one client just so I didn't have to go home yet.   

Yes, today was a Pap smear over parenting, number 3 kind of day.

When I got home, Maya greeted me with a giant hug and curled onto my lap as if I wasn't the worst mother in a 50 mile radius and Ella came at me bright-eyed about a fort she had built.  I was grateful my absence and the presence of a loving adult seemed to erase some of the morning.  This is why you aren't supposed to have kids all by yourself.  There is too high a probability for number 3 days.

I kissed the girls goodnight and told them of my love for them.  They smiled up at me, their eyes forgiving, their skin soft and silky, their hearts open and willing. 

And I wanted to punch anyone who would ever be less than amazing to them.  GULP.

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