It’s not always pretty, this life. It’s not always happy, not always fun and laughter, not always great.
It’s pretty complicated. If I’m honest? It’s really, really hard.
I show up every day. I have no choice. I am a stay at home mom. I am a mom, period. I am a wife. I have animals who live here. There are mouths to feed, bodily functions to clean up after, bodies to clean. There are messes to stay on top of. Fights to guide through. There are couch cushion forts to build.
I don’t do my best every single day. I struggle to get by without an episode of anger and panic thanks to the anxiety that has become a near constant companion. But I’m here. I beat myself up to be better and on the good days I congratulate myself for doing well. I love my life though sometimes I feel worn down by it. Dragged through the muck and beaten over the head with a laundry basket.
I’ve heard the words “I don’t love you” plenty of times. It hurts to hear. I try so hard to lead a gentle life and fail so miserably some days I want to leave. But instead I trudge through and hope that I can react differently next time. I hope that I can learn to control my anxiety in a way that is healthier for all of us. I am human and I do make mistakes which I realize.
In my previous post I wrote about some of the things that set me off. I didn’t really touch on the frustrations of simply getting teeth brushed. This turns into a nightmare five nights out of seven each week.
The last time the kids went to the dentist they received toothpaste, as we all do after getting our teeth cleaned. They really liked this toothpaste so when they ran out I told them I would buy more. We still had some of the kind they had been using and having two kinds to choose from added an unnecessary complication. They went from not being able to choose to then wanting both. But if I didn’t put the correct amount of both on the toothbrush it led to a meltdown and a refusal to brush. I stopped putting two types of toothpaste on their brushes. They get to pick one kind. But still, if it’s not on JUST SO it can lead to a meltdown. If the water with which they need to wet their brush isn’t the right “flow” it can also lead to a meltdown. If I start the teeth brushing song too early it can lead to a meltdown. So you see? It’s complicated. I want them to brush so they can go to bed so I can eat ice cream. But it has gotten out of hand, clearly.
Tonight was one of those nights. Dinner was not eaten. Changing into pajamas was a fight. Of course brushing teeth was going to be awful. Gannon spit his toothpaste at me. Waverly rubbed hers all over the sink because I wasn’t thinking and I put the toothpaste on her toothbrush so she didn’t get to do it. I was furious. I told them we were done in the bathroom and they weren’t brushing their teeth. Yes, you read that right.
I took away brushing their teeth.
They freaked out. Gannon started yanking items of clothing off our coat rack. I brought him into the living room and tried to calm him down so we could talk about it. I wanted him to brush his teeth, obviously. But he wasn’t going to spit his toothpaste at me.
That’s when it happened.
“I HATE YOU!”
He was so angry I know that he was feeling hatred toward me in that moment. I cried, obviously.
Tonight was a power struggle. It could have been avoided. I was in a rush to get them to bed. I wasn’t respecting their feelings. I wasn’t listening to them or remembering the things that mean something to them as trivial as it is to me. This goes against what I believe in my heart and soul.
I hate power struggles. They are exhausting and pointless. Nothing is achieved. No lesson is learned. Feelings get hurt. We cry. I apologized, they brushed their teeth, and from the sounds of the crying upstairs it was Paul’s turn to try and do the right thing.
It was my turn to reflect. The only thing I can do is move forward. Tomorrow is a new day. I have another chance to remember to be present. To not rush. And to help them through their moments. It is easier to take the time to listen and to talk to them even if they are upset. Disregarding their feelings leads to explosive emotions and a much more difficult place to come back from.
Listening. Breathing. Talking. Asking questions. Hearing the answers.
Tomorrow, I try again.