Mama said there’d be days like this.

Well, actually, she didn’t. I don’t remember Mum ever talking to me explicitly or at length about how there are days when you just want to declare “Mommying is hard!” and go back to bed. But she did give some rather weary, drawn out sighs. That and declare she was Helga.

Have I told you about Helga? She was my mom’s alter-ego when she was being grouchy. When my mom snapped at us, or warned us that she was Helga (or, in the later years, wore her yellow sweatshirt decorated by my cousins and emblazoned with the word “HELGA” across the front with a circle and a line through it), man we kids knew to clear the heck out. Avoid Mom at all costs. She was grouchy and snappish and would yell at us for very little reason.

Go ahead and guess who I was last night.

I was exhausted. Two days of pep-talking and preparing and bearing up and motivating your third-grader for STAAR testing will do that. Long, politically fraught, busy day at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeDiscussed will make you long for bedtime. I had to make dinner (and guess who forgot to take something out of the freezer and was out of leftovers?), bake cupcakes for Gracie’s family birthday celebration, supervise homework, make sure the gremlins bathed, and arrange for a secret phone call between the girlies and Auntie Kim so they could plan my Mother’s Day gift. It was going to be A Night.

Dinner went off without a hitch – perhaps that’s why I was lulled into thinking I could actually pull it all off. Perhaps the girls ate at a snail’s pace, but at least there wasn’t any whining or crying. (Yes, some nights that’s all I need for win.) But then when Bee brought me her homework paper, I realized her world scrambles weren’t exactly unscrambled. She had just re-written the scrambled words over again. And I was just so tired of the schoolwork struggle. Why doesn’t she understand that she can’t just write nonsense words? She hates the bad grades; she agonizes over them. So why doesn’t Bee connect the effort she puts into things is what gets good grades? She was crying and unwilling to answer me or respond when I tried to help. I got frustrated and then snippy and soon the pair of us were just miserable. Neither of us were really helping the other be their best selves. As the grown-up, I should have been the one to take a deep breath and choose to change my behavior. I swear I made that choice 30 different times. And just kept devolving into SnippyMom who made everything worse. Two and a half hours – that’s how long it took Bee and I to work through her word scrambles and then practice her spelling words because it was obvious that three full days into her spelling words, she still couldn’t spell any of them.

Somewhere in there, Gracie took her shower and then called Auntie Kim. Or, I thought she was talking to Auntie Kim for that half hour. Turns out, she was really talking to Auntie Rhi the whole time. I finally straightened that out and Gracie conspired with her aunt about what to get me for Mothers’ Day. Oh, the irony.

I know, I know – I’m human. I know my troubles and my exhaustion don’t rate very high compared to what others – including dear friends – are going through right now. And that, maybe, was just the perspective I needed. Because after walking into Bee’s room as she was putting on her pajamas and hearing her sob, “I’m having a really rough night,” and holding her until she felt better, and after getting one of her self-proclaimed world-famous hugs when I tucked her in, and after Gracie voluntarily shut off her computer math game because “I think we should spend some time together, Mom,” and after she gave me a giant hug even though I snapped at her to let me have five minutes to pee all by myself, and after I got the cupcakes baked at 8:30, two hours after I started them, and finally sat down with a much-deserved glass of wine – I realized even on days like yesterday, I wouldn’t trade any of it away for anything in the world. They are my girls, and they are loved more than anything else in the world. They know they are loved even with my temper is a bit sharp. We are an imperfect family, but we choose each other over and over and over. Time and again. And with love comes forgiveness. For each other. And for ourselves.

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One Response to “Mama said there’d be days like this.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    I think we have all been there; at least I know I have. So tough some nights to just be the better/bigger/adult person. We have the same homework struggle at my house and I STILL haven’t figured out how to get him to understand the cause and effect. I keep hoping though.

    Here’s to a better night. And holding on to the reality that it isn’t really as bad as you think it is. You are, after all, still only human.

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