Tuesday, March 6, 2012

High Expectations

Wow.  Where did that month go?

Well people, it's good to see you.  I think of you often and can't wait for life to calm down so I can sit at my computer and type out my joys and sorrows.

I've recently realized that when you volunteer time, you have less of it.  You may recall I have been serving as the editor of the little guy's preschool's newsletter and that I am also writing for our local community newsletter.  These things take time, and when I agreed to take them on, I didn't really think about how it would effect my blogging.  Apparently it has effected my blogging quite seriously.

So here I am.  I have so many subjects I want to write about, I don't really know where to start. Instead of backtracking, I will start with today.

My dear Mother left for the airport this morning at 7am.  She had come for a short visit and it went by so very fast...as her visits always do.  While shuttling my kids to and fro this morning, I was struck by how badly I felt.  You see, my kids were not well behaved during her visit and I was constantly feeling upset, stressed, embarrassed and frustrated.  I felt like I had no control of my offspring and that I looked like a frantic, crazy Mama who was hanging on by a thread.  And while some of that is certainly true, I know in my heart that the past few days were extreme because the kids had an audience (other than their parents).  There were times when I was at a loss and just wanted to yell and scream, give up, turn on some "educational" TV and go hide in a hole.  My Mom reassures me they were very well behaved whenever my husband and I were out of the house (like on our date night or our furniture shopping escapade).  And while that makes me feel a bit better, why couldn't they have been like that when I was around?

During her visit, I asked my Mom a lot of questions about how she juggled all the craziness of having three small kids back in the day.  She admits she doesn't remember all that much, but she did point out that she always worked part-time and that gave her a chance to get away from the house, socialize and work with adults (not spouses or relatives), and gain perspective on her family life.  She encouraged me to get out of the house more and do things for myself.  She also told me (in a nice way) that my life revolves around my kids. 

When I sit down and look at my family's life, I will be the first to acknowledge that I am the one who is home and running the show the majority of the time.  And without family back-up, there isn't much relief.  Frankly, my life does revolve around my kids and I am not sure how I would be able to change that right now.

The two mornings I get alone when both of the little monsters are at school (3.5 hours a week (after drive time)!), I am pretty overrun with a hefty to do list.  Frankly, there are just too many errands I am not willing to do with the little guy anymore because he has become such a fan of public meltdowns.  And that means there are a lot of things to accomplish when he is not around! 

But I am trying.  I have actually been to a gym six times since late January (thanks to a Groupon deal).  I get out to dinner or brunch with friends every few weeks.  I took an anger management class for parents (which made a ton of sense in theory but is proving rather difficult to implement in reality).  And I just started a leadership training course at PEP (the Parent Encouragement Program) which offers the parenting classes I've been taking over the past year.  Now seriously, what else can a girl fit in??

Anyway, I'm babbling a bit here but I just had to share my frustration over the constant stress of being a stay-at-home parent of a challenging five year old and a defiant, moody and physically abusive three old.  I used to complain that babies were tough (which of course they are--especially the grueling sleep deprivation and loss of self), but man oh man, it's nothing compared to the physical, emotional and mental demands I now face daily.  And when everything gets even more ramped up during a five day visit from Nana, it certainly forces me to ask: "why is this (parenthood) so freakin hard and how do I make this (parenthood) better?"

My solution for today was to rush to the gym, run on a treadmill for 25 minutes, sit in a hot sauna for 10 minutes, and buy an overpriced fancy latte before grabbing a few groceries and rushing to pick up the little guy at preschool.  Endorphins combined with caffeine can be a pretty awesome thing.  It certainly help put things in perspective this morning.

My Mom mentioned that perhaps Mothers today are too hard on themselves.  Our expectations and standards are too high and we set ourselves up for failure because there is no way we can achieve our lofty goals.  There could be some truth to this.  But is it too much to ask to just have kids who listen and don't give you attitude or physically attack you when they don't get their way?  Is that really asking too much?  And if I am embarassed by my kids crazy behavior because I take it as a reflection on my parenting abilities, does that mean I am being too hard on myself?  The truth is, I just don't know.

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