It seems I have been awarded the highly esteemed “Mother of the Year” Award. Again. Man, I really need to do something about this, as a person just shouldn’t be winning this award so often. It is unseemly. And then, of course, with its conferring, comes all the other host of issues: what should I say in my acceptance speech, what should I wear, which handbag best accents my thin parts, can I get a haircut and color in time? And then, there is the whole hornet’s nest of which wine best accompanies such an event.
This all brings to mind the first time I won the “Mother of the Year” award. If memory serves me, I believe I found the three inches of 2 month old Zinfandel that was languishing in the fridge went down just fine.
Several years ago, my husband and I decided to relocate our family back to the Northwest so we could be closer to family. I was tired of having to fly home to show off my kiddos to my parents and I was very tired of shoveling the Minnesotan snows. So we packed up and moved across the country. It was a great plan, except for the “getting a local job” part. That took nearly a year. So every Sunday afternoon, I would load the kids, husband, and his suitcase into the “stretch mark mobile” and take him to the airport. We’d go get him on Thursday night and the weekend would ensue. It was a fun gig for eleven months.
Well, except for that single parenting part. That part was really quite horrific and gave me a whole new appreciation for the massive stress that single parenting gives a person. And in my case, it brought out some pretty bad parenting techniques. Like, “Honey, prepare yourself. The playroom is a bit more crowded nowadays. I couldn’t help it, they just wore me down in the toy isle of Target.” Or, “Hey kids, let’s just go out for dinner. Yes, I know we haven’t actually sat at our dining room for 4 days, but let’s see what the kids’ menu is like at this new place!” In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best time to decide to go off the anti-depressant. Oy.
But the night I first won the “Mother of the Year” award was an all-time low. Well, at that time. Since then, that point in my parenting history looks a bit more like a plateau really. Which is to say I’ve had some real doozies since then.
So, one night I managed to get my daughter to sleep and was beginning the process of getting my eldest son to the Land of Nod as well. Note: he slept through the night for the first time when he was 2.5 and I’m using the term “night” to describe the hours of 11-6, versus all those other hours when he was wide-a-freakin’-wake. Anyhoo, we had done the bedtime snack, brushing of teeth, calming story, soothing voices and all the other things I’ve been using since the little sleep aversion maniac left the womb.
I really don’t know what sent me into the realm we like to call the “stark raving mad” moment, but I was heading there like some well-crafted European sports car. He was crying and I was trying to hold onto my mounting fury and hysteria, but frankly it was going badly. Kind of like Mt. Vesuvius going active.
Anyhoo, he’s sitting on the potty (I’m a fan of boys sitting to pee – have you ever witnessed a 5 year old’s aim?!?!) and crying those kinds of tears that lead to mass flooding from both the eyes and nose. The “facial tissue” box had been emptied about ten minutes and four gallons of mucus before, so I hand him some toilet paper to blow his nose. He hands it back to me, and then all hell broke loose. Because I tossed it into the toilet. His little hold on sanity snapped and he was absolutely bereft over me having thrown the toilet paper into the toilet.
“But Mom!” he wailed, “I could have used it again!” (Note to self: dial back the conservation lectures a notch or two.)
About 3 hours (or 30 seconds, who can recall) of negotiations ensued. He offered that I could take the sodden paper out of the toilet and dry it with the blow dryer. Even though he had peed in the toilet. I think that was about the moment I lost it. It went something like this:
“You want that damn paper so badly, you can get it!” And I grabbed his little toothpick arm and attempted to make him reach in the toilet himself. It probably looked quite a bit like making a cat get into a pet carrier. Who knew a 4 year old could fight so hard?
Well, considering it was summer and the windows were open, it is probably a minor miracle that DHS didn’t come to investigate. They would have found my daughter blissfully sleeping while I was sitting on the bathroom floor begging my oldest son to forgive me for being such a horrid person. We were both leaking fluids like crazy and went through the rest of the roll of t.p.
Only an hour and a half after I started trying to get him to bed, he was finally asleep, still making those little dry sob sounds with every inhalation, and I was down on the couch. I polished off the stale wine and awarded myself the “Mother of the Year” award for the first time. I looked quite the sight – mascara running down my face like some horror film character, pajamas soaked with tears, snot, and water from the toilet. I’m sure even my hair was looking worse for the experience.
“Mother of the Year.” Doesn’t it have a great ring to it? It would be a fine thing if I were to ever actually be awarded such a thing. Like it being announced on some fine linen, double-enveloped kind of thing. Versus it being hurled at me across the room, accompanied with spittle and 8 year old versions of profanity. ( “You, you are such a stupid-head Mom. I hate you!”)
Well, a girl can always dream of a better day.