I Don’t Like Mondays

 

My two year old takes my head into her tiny little hands. She brushes her hand over my cheek, stares at it, wondering why her hand is wet.

 

“Mommy, you sad? Why you cry?”

 

I’m crying, because I dropped your brother off at his first day camp today. He was nervous, and I don’t think I handled it well.

 

I’m crying, because I told him I’d stay until he was comfortable, but it became clear that that was making it worse, so I decided to leave.

 

I’m crying, because he sounded like an animal in a leg trap when I walked out of that room. By the way his cries were muffled, I could tell the counselor was holding him back, and he was screaming into her shoulder.

 

I’m crying, because none of the other kids were crying.

 

I’m crying, because I’m convinced child molesters are waiting around every corner.

 

I’m crying, because I sent a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for his lunch. No one does that anymore; peanuts are verboten everywhere. What the hell was I thinking?

 

I’m crying, because I’m mad at your brother, for not magically adapting well to new situations.

 

I’m crying, because I never make the right decision. I’m not very good at this mom thing. There’s no way to measure performance as a mother. But other people will see his meltdown as a measure of my skills.

 

I’m crying, because I can’t just relax and enjoy this rare time alone with you.

 

I’m crying, because I love you both so god damn much.

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33 responses to “I Don’t Like Mondays

  1. Oh, don’t cry. They can’t stay little forever. Think of all the fun he’ll have with the other kids. And think about the time you’ll have with your other one.

    Nothin’ wrong with peanut butter and jelly.

    And a meltdown? No, that’s just showing how much you love your kids.

    Now dab your eyes and turn that frown upside down!

  2. You’re crying because you’re such a good mom. 😉

  3. Ditto what Peter said . 🙂

  4. We do not choose our children and they do not choose us. It’s not like we found each other through rigorous quizzes and compatibility matches through an online service. It may be love, but there was no moony gawking over cheap wine and pasta as we swapped all our most precious stories and giggled at each other’s jokes while we worried if there was a bit of spinach stuck in our teeth. There wasn’t even a first date to see if “this might go anywhere”. Even taking romance out of the equation – given I’m talking about kids here and it’s a bit creepy – we get to choose our friendships in very similar ways. Process of elimination – chats over coffee – old-fashioned sense-of-connection…

    But kids….

    Much of the time it’s a relationship we literally bear into the world and we get the kids we get. They get the parents they get. There is no blame in this on either side because most of the time everyone is doing the best they can. It just means that like any other relationship, we’re just not going to get it right all of the time.

    No one does. No one can.

    And, whoever the fucking jackoff jerk douchebag moron git loser was who started the rumour that we somehow should magically get it all right all the time – be perfectly in sync emotionally and intellectually with the needs of these little people we brought into the world simply because we brought them into the world and spend the most time with them – should be hung, drawn-and-quartered and then forced to answer the same question 1000 times in a row while making the tenth soon-to-be-rejected meal on zero sleep, with loads of laundry yet to do and all while listening to a soundtrack of someone walking through a room pointing out every single thing that’s, um, “blue” – in circles – for months and months and months.

    Now, obviously, because we DO spend a lot of time with our kids and we are observant people, we do know things about them that other people don’t. We see things and understand things that are the direct result of the full-time immersion program of loving them blind and being the only adult in the room. This is important and valuable for both us and for our kids. The trouble is when we get mad with the power of it. Just cuz we know more than other people doesn’t mean we can possibly know it all.

    If nothing else kids change fast. What will torment or delight them one day may not be what does it for them or scares them the next day. Additionally, it’s not like our moods, needs and feelings are static either. Nor should they be. The Stepford lifestyle may look pretty but kids raised by that sort of even-tempered-always-perfect are going to be awfully shocked by the world and little boys, in particular, would do well to learn that women who love them are going to fuck it up as much as they get it right and that that’s part of the fun.

    We do not stop being emotional and imperfect just cuz we have a child for whom we are responsible and whom we love so much it hurts. We do not stop preferring things to happen a certain way and at a certain speed just cuz that’s not the speed at which our children move. We may be responsible for them but we do not, nor should we, ever stop being responsible for ourselves too. We are allowed to want what we want, we are allowed to be disappointed and frustrated without being lesser people and – again – we are allowed to make mistakes.

    And to the type of people who would judge YOU because your child was sad on his first day of day camp I say a plain, thoroughly righteous “Go fuck yourselves.” My kid’s just three and he’s had his own mind, his own needs, his own moods and whims since he was old enough to hold up his own head…

    In other words, you could have read every signal correctly, you could have done every single thing to emotionally prepare and then ease him into his day with some sort of hermetically sealed politically correct sandwich and he STILL might have been utterly miserable about it. He still might not have been able to breeze into it because that’s just not who HE is.

    And though this may not very reassuring, it is important I think, cuz that’s the scary thing, the real devil around every corner: It’s the height of arrogance to assume that we are actually in control of even most of what happens to our children. They are their own people and they are of the world as much as they are of us, if not more so with every passing day.

    That’s the vulnerability. That’s the bitch of it. But it is also part of the joy of watching them grow and become because if we let ourselves – and let them – we get to be as surprised, enraged and delighted as they are at the process. It’s why we should be able, more than we are, to stand back and take a deep breath and say, “okay, maybe I shouldn’t be letting my son watch endless homemade and vaguely disturbing Thomas videos on youtube while I write to my friend, but it’s honest to pete what he wants to be doing right now and when they close the book on me as a mother I’ll know I’ve done a lot more good than bad so it is what it is.”

    Ultimately, though, if you can’t trust yourself right now then at least pretend to trust me when I say you are a wonderful, thoughtful, creative, devoted and deeply compassionate mother. I’ve seen it myself. With my own eyes. A LOT.

    If you are guilty of anything right now it’s not making sure you get bit more (hell, ANY) time to yourself. To take care of YOURSELF. And, that you kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind of suck at letting anyone else take care of you even when you need it most.

    We are all better mothers when we are more grounded and centred women because that’s where the job starts and ends – as women.

    And sugar, I’m gonna’ send for reinforcements if I have to. You know I will. And that may be the wrong thing to do, just like writing this tome of a comment might also be the wrong thing to do. But, I love you and, frankly, I am just doing my best.

  5. My gawd . . .

    Not sure I can add anything after that last comment.

    Other than to share an experience . . .

    The first time we left our firstborn child somewhere for a lengthy period of time was at my in-laws. He was three and our only child at the time. Wife had to stay in the car while I told him bye and to have fun. Wife was bawling. As I started to drive away, she nearly forced me off the road trying to grab the wheel and make me turn around. She cried the entire two hour drive home.

    Now, with four kids (7-14) and a decade and a half of parenting under her still quite slim belt, she can’t wait to drop them off.

    This too shall pass my dear . . .

  6. “I’m not very good at this mom thing. There’s no way to measure performance as a mother. But other people will see his meltdown as a measure of my skills.”

    Honey NONE of us MOMS are very good at this mom thing. We all screw up and send the wrong kind of sandwich. We all have bad a bad decision from time to time. Kids have melt downs and so do moms. It’s part of being human. We Moms all get mad at our children from time to time because they do exactly the opposite of what we want them to do.

    And honestly if I were there I would have put my arm around your shoulders and said – “he’ll be fine. We’ve all been here before. Your NOT a bad mom. Your just a mom with a child that obviously loves the bejeebers out of his mommy. Now let’s go and get ourselves a very large chocolate bar or whatever else tickles our fancy and helps us feel better!”

    Even with 4 kiddos ranging in age from 7 to 14 – I still haven’t gotten it figured out. Don’t really think that’s possible tho.

  7. Employee: Thank you. Instead, I opted for pacing and drinking coffee while keeping one eye on the phone, and the other on the clock, waiting for it to be time to pick him up. To each her own…

    Peter & Maria: You are sweet (no, seriously) and I thank you both.

    Sulya: Thank you so so much. For your words. For taking the time to write this beautiful and accurate description of what we go through. For taking the time to think about my shit. Thank you.

    Tysdaddy & Arynsmom: I like hearing from people who are ahead of me in the journey. I know for sure that things never seem the same after a day, let alone 5 years.

    And for anyone who’s interested, he did ok. They went swimming right after I left. His counsellor told me that within 5 minutes, he said “My mom probably thinks I’m still having a tantrum, but I’m having a great time!” Little bugger. When i picked him up, he beckoned me down to his level, and just whispered “I made it!”.

    But by bedtime tonight, he was a sobbing mess, insisting he couldn’t go back tommorrow. If anyone needs me, I’ll be on the roller coaster….

  8. What you didn’t see was after you left. Another little boy walked up to him and said “Hi, wanna play?” Then your little boy and this little boy went off and became best friends. And then another little boy joined the fray, and another, and another. Before he knew it, he had a fast circle of friends.

    Then when he gets home from camp he’ll miss the week he had with his new friends.

    In the meantime, have fun. Enjoy the quiet, enjoy your daughter.

  9. Ginny??? We are all in the same boat. Any REAL mom will not judge but say, OMG, I’ve been there. Okay, at least I say that. MY son turned his back to the audience at his pre-school Christmas concert. He knew his limits. Did I cringe? A little. Now he makes speeches at church about the dangers of global warming and need to live sustainably.

    Trust in the unseen future. Your love will bear fruit. And cry all you want. Thank God you care enough to feel.

  10. It’s such an unfair irony that our ultimate job is to let go of the ones we love the most.

    From a writing POV, when you figure out how to combine this wonderful, heartfelt sadness with your smart-ass, laugh-big wit, you’ll have a million dollar book. You’ve got all the emotional angles covered.

    M

  11. Being a parent is hard.

    In less than two weeks my 17 yr old son is coming home from his father’s house, where he’s been for the summer even though he didn’t want to go, just long enough to collect his things and say goodbye to me. He’s chosen to spend his senior year of high school 1200 miles away from me and it is killing me. But I’m letting him go because he’s just a couple months from 18 and really, it is his choice. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to try and convince him to stay, but unfortunately I cannot compete with the fact that a few weeks ago he met a girl down there.

    *sigh*

  12. Ah, dude. I don’t know what to say. I think it gets better, my mum hasn’t cried since I left for college, and then she just teared up a little.

  13. Girl, you are a great momma. I think its ony natural, the feelings that come along with this situation. My son will start school for the first time (at 3) in September. I am sad already (at times – other times I could do a little dance just thinking of it!)

    And PS – anyone who sees his meltdown as a measure of your parenting skills is an effen idiot. To hell with them! 🙂

  14. Beej: Thanks 🙂

    Writinggb: Thanks very much. Again, good to hear from someone who’s starting to enjoy the fruits of the labor.

    Michael: Yup. Raising kids is turning out to be an exquisite form of torture 😉 (Thanks for looking at it from a writing POV. I’m in a writing kind of mood these days.)

    Sue: Oh god, I don’t even want to think about that time! I dread the day some floozy takes my little man away (I’m kidding.) (She’ll probably be more of a tramp than a floozy.)

    Captain: I don’t know if it gets better, or we just get tougher. I guess I’ll find out.

  15. GiGi: Good luck with your little guy in Sept.: you’ll have to write about it, so we know how it went. I got the greatest mental picture of getting dirty looks from other parents, and saying to them “Oh yeah? Well, Gigi says you’re an idiot!”, turning on my heel, and making a VERY dramatic exit. Yes, that’s what I’ll do….

  16. So bloody sweet.

    I need a hug dammit.

  17. Isn’t it odd how people want their kids around them when they’re all crying and sticky, and get annoyed and breathless having them around once those same kids have learned to use Kleenex and wash their hands?

    pssst: You’re not a bad mom. Shut up.

  18. Aww. Hugs, Ginny.

  19. Xbox: Thanks. They will tear your heart to shreds at least once a day; because of who they are, what they do, and how they make you question yourself. You sure you still want in? Yeah, you do.

    Rassles: “You’re not a bad mom. Shut Up.” Favorite comment of all time. I’ll let you know if anything better ever comes up. I doubt it will.

    max: Thanks. And thanks for posting so quickly to let us know you made it through the earthquake unscathed. Damn, that shit’s scary!

  20. Wow, this gave me goosebumps. So that is what being a parent is like? I want in.

    Great post.

  21. Billy: Thank you. It (parenting) is not for wusses. And for me, goosebumps=ultimate in flattery. Thanks 😉

  22. Don’t worry, this too will change. Many moons from now you’ll be thinking, “when the hell are they moving out?” Then you’ll feel bad for the thought, but relieved when they’re making their own way, it’s par for the course.

    My boy is geeting married soon. Grandpa? Oh crap… Then again revenge is sweet.

  23. Well, now you’re making me cry. I know I spend way too much time worrying about what other people will think of me as a mother. (Like when son #2 was found wandering the sidewalk in front of the house and returned to us by a total stranger? I didn’t lose sleep over child molesters. I lost sleep picturing everyone reading about it in the paper the next day and KNOWING that only a really bad mom would let that happen.)

    I never know what the right thing to do is when my darling son reacts kind of weirdly to things. He’s kind of weird. I guess I am too. You’re doing your best, just like the rest of us, and you’re talking about how hard it is, which I NEED to hear more often. So I know I’m not the only one feeling that way. Thanks.

  24. The first day of kindergarten. Oh the crying! Oh the wailing! Oh the gnashing of teeth.

    And then the kids were all like, “Ma! Stop! You’re embarassing us!”

    🙂

  25. Awww 😦 I’m sorry I can’t come up with anything more supportive or helpful except that those peanut allergy kids all come with epi-pens anyways.

  26. I thought for sure Spanky, being the youngest and most attached would give me hell on her first day of school. To my surprise, she told me to leave as soon as I brought her into the classroom that day. I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
    When I picked her up that day she was happy and telling me how much fun she had and even thanked me for taking her.
    True.
    “I love school,” she said.
    As we pulled into the driveway she added, “But I ain’t going back there again.”

  27. Allen: Some days, I feel like the only reason I slog ahead is the promise of grandchildren one day. 😉

    Tara: Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are one of my favorite colleagues in this crazy-ass career we’ve chosen.

    Chick: Tee hee. And two of them at once! I would have needed tranquilizers.

    Em: “those peanut allergy kids all come with epi-pens anyways.” Support is good, making me laugh is better. Thanks.

    Kitty: Yup. Every single morning has been a shit show. I really believe he thought it was a one-off deal. (Spanky is so cute. I think you’re making her up 😉 )

  28. “(Spanky is so cute. I think you’re making her up)”

    I wish I was that sharp.

  29. I’m crying because Peanut Butter is now treated like Anthrax in every school like situation world wide. Tis a staple. A milestone. A joyous blend of peanuts and clog up your arteries butter. What a sad sad world we live in.

  30. aj: You’re delightfully crusty. Just like a peanut butter sandwich. (You see how I did that? Brought it all back around? Pretty cool, huh?)

  31. You’re so tricky.

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