Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I guess it started last week sometime. Too many days in a row of driving the kids around, doing the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning. Too many days of trying to manage the angry toddler, who goes from sweet and loving to angry and, sometimes, just plain mean, in seconds. Too many times reminding the big four and a half year old that we don't stand on our chairs during dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast. Too much whining. Too much refereeing fights between the boys or pulling the tiny toddler off his brother, for no reason at all. It happens to every mother sometimes, right? (please say yes, please say yes.) I think I was just feeling unappreciated.

Add to all of that the fact that I wasn't feeling 100%. Which is a whole other issue I need to figure out. I usually get a little sick when the big four and a half year old brings gunk home from school, but since the little one has joined the family I have been outnumbered. And so now when they bring that gunk home it is doubly potent and I don't just get a little sick. I get full blown sick. So I was fighting something.

I think we also have to add in the possibility of my hormones being slightly off balance. I know there are opposing views on the long lasting effects of fertility drugs, but I am landing on the side of yes, they do push you into perimenopause early. I am only 41 years old and I have been experiencing some sort of slight symptoms of this since I first took the drugs, back in my mid 30's. Raising small children while your hormones are making you a little crazy is not easy.

So, to recap:
  • feeling unappreciated for all the thankless work that goes into being a mother.
  • saying no, get down, stop hitting your brother, don't put that in your mouth, STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHER!, over and over and over again.
  • living through the "IloveyouIhateyouIloveyouIhateyou" sentiments from my newest family member.
  • being sick. again.
  • hormones making me crazy. oh my god, so crazy.
All of this led to what happened Sunday night at the dinner table. Getting our youngest to eat is not easy. And keeping him at the table while the rest of us finish eating is even harder. Excusing him to go play seems to be just giving him license to climb onto the table, literally up on the table, and pull everything he can reach towards him and onto the floor. So we let him out of the high chair, he runs around for a moment or two, and then the circus begins. He climbs up onto the table, my big four and a half year old says "uh oh, he's doing it again", and we all start grabbing at everything on the table and pulling it out of the baby's grasp. Sometimes we are successful, sometimes we're not quick enough and the ketchup bottle hits the floor, spraying watery red gook everywhere. No matter what we save from hitting the floor, we usually are never quick enough to stop the older one from attempting to push the younger one down. I am this close to everyone having to wear helmets to dinner.

For some reason this chaos really bothers me. I can ignore the thousands of toys on the living room floor. I can look the other way when my oldest son kicks his pull up off every morning, giggling as it hits his dresser, or the window. I don't mind the water on the bathroom floor during their shared tub time. I cannot ignore the dinner chaos. This, it seems, is my battle ground. So I try very hard to create a calm dinnertime experience. I plate the food before I call everyone to the table. I turn the lights down. Sometimes I turn on Vivaldi or Mozart. I reward my big four and a half year old with a sticker on his responsibility chart for good mealtime behavior. I take the time to research, plan, shop for, and prepare meals I think the whole family will enjoy.

Sunday I made a roast. which I knew the two year would not eat and wasn't sure if the four year old would eat or not. I calmly explained to my older son that he needed to taste the meal, at least. If he didn't like the meat he didn't have to eat it.

One bite, which wasn't even swallowed, and which was followed by "that is gross. I don't like this." deep breath.

The plate full of yogurt and fruit the two year old was presented with wound up on the floor. deep breath.

Demands for more ketchup, more butter on the bread, more drinks, more fruit. deep breath.

Toddler standing up in his high chair, attempting to fall on his head. deep breath.

Recently freed toddler climbing onto the table pulling forks, plates, food onto the floor. deep breath.

All hell breaking loose, again, at the dinner table. Piled on top of everything mentioned above. No more deep breaths. This mama lost it.

I believe I said something along the lines of: "I plan for these meals, I cook these meals, I try to make them nice and NONE OF YOU appreciate ANYTHING I do. DINNER IS CANCELLED. You can all eat cereal for dinner this week."

My husband, God bless him, had the presence of mind to keep his mouth shut. He just sat there, calmly grabbing things from the tiny toddler's sticky little grasp. I got up, grabbed a trash bag, starting clearing the table, throwing the food away, all while telling my little family that there would be no more cooking. Cereal for everyone, all week. I was totally out of my mind.

My big four and a half year old asked to be excused and ran out to the living room to play. A few minutes later he was back in the kitchen, where I was still man handling the dinner dishes but at least had stopped muttering about cereal.

"Mommy, tomorrow night, after we eat our cereal, it will be time to go trick or treating, right?"

My point had been totally lost on him. He just accepted the fact that mommy was going to force cereal on the family every night. My sweet little boy, so trusting. And best of all, he made me smile. He made me see how totally ridiculous I was being. I am not the only mother to lose her mind every so often. And this too shall pass. Before I know it I will have grown up boys busy with sports or band or after school jobs. Getting the family to sit down together for a meal might not be so easy. I should appreciate what I have. And I will.

Side note: we did, in fact, have cereal for dinner last night, just like I threatened. But that was only because we had to get our costumes on and get out there trick or treating. I do plan to make dinner tonight. One of my big four and a half year old's favorite meals, in fact. I am such a sucker.

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