Tonight I had a parenting fail. It was glorious. It led to angry demands, fake crying, spankings, snot on the floor, and me hating everyone and everything and walking out of the house. I’m still not sure who was in control, but I suspect it wasn’t me. A lack of planning, an exhausting, stress-filled start to the school year and a series of parenting fails led to a spectacular school night scream fest. Oh and did I mention it’s their birthday???!!!!
Yes, tonight the twins turned 7. I knew leading up to this time that I couldn’t handle a party right now. Many factors- work stress, home stress, extra work on the side stress- all led me to decide not to organize a big birthday bash. This decision resulted in improvising, with me, their dad and their grandma all getting spur of the moment birthday ideas. So, what started as a stress-free birthday plan morphed into a two week long birthday extravaganza.
First we went to New York, to maybe celebrate their birthday with my parents and sister’s family. (Since it was two weeks early, we didn’t actually celebrate there, but we did buy toys at a toy store as a spur of the moment decision.)
Next, back in VT, I had wanted to get them bigger bikes all summer. So I bought them new-to-us bikes as an early birthday present! They are retro and awesome and unique. The girls love them. Then, of course dad had to buy them bike bells, horns and new helmets. Later, we went to the Champlain Valley Fair which somehow got wrapped up as part of their celebration. There dad bought them Pokemon toys (for their birthday… again) Adding to the fun, those toys soon started to break and also got smuggled to school and put up as a consequence. The anger and frustration started to build.
Asking my husband, “What day do you want to do a dinner for their birthday?” yielded wishy-washy results. Adding to lack of plans. So we settled on celebrating with ice cream cakes on their actual school night birthday date.
On this night grandma brought three expensive toys for EACH girl. She had gone to four different stores to find the perfect gifts! We ate our ice cream cake and grandma asked about our views on Trump. So my blue-collar hard-working non-college educated husband started ranting about politics. Which he and I don’t agree on. This led to steam coming out of my ears, right before having to pick up the mess, get the girls showered and ready for bed. On their birthday it isn’t a priority for two tired 7 year olds to move quickly for mom’s sake. Finally, I lose my cool.
Hollering at their dad, “Why do you want to rant about politics? What good comes from this?”
Alright, let me back up a bit. The real problem is a result of my decisions. I take on too much of the parenting. I draw the line for behavior and enforce the rules. I do breakfast, lunch and snacks and sometimes dinner. I do ALL the laundry folding and take the heat for (gasp) actually asking my girls to put their clothes in their drawers! I do morning and bedtime routines (not easy!) and having the girls shower is a headache. See, they’re afraid of sharks. Sharks coming out of the showerhead. Cause that makes sense. Either that, or they are manipulating me. I stand by the shower and give the play by play on what to do next. “Get your head in the water. Stop playing with the handle. Put soap on your washcloth, etc. etc.) This lasts a half hour or more. While their dad is watching the news. (Probably about politics!) So I stand there losing patience. The girls talk back, I walk away, which in turn prompts them to turn off the water cause they’re afraid. It’s a vicious cycle. I also do the running around for sporting activities, any daycare runs, the doctors appointments, the school forms and events, etc. I’m willing to bet there are a lot of others out there in a similar situation!
So that means I work myself into a frenzy and explode when I can’t take the nonsense anymore. (I mean, I have limits, right?)
But wait- there are other factors at play. My daughters don’t like the sounds of me eating or breathing. They also don’t like how my face looks while I’m eating. I wear retainers so when I speak, I have a lisp. They quite often stare, mimic and plug their ears. This happens daily. Often at most meals. Or when I read to them. Subtle and consistent comments on my looks and sounds. Ah, not too different than teaching middle school Spanish! Ay caramba! It’s a wonder I didn’t resign from parenting a year ago.
So tonight, on their birthday, they spent quite a lot of time at dinner in this mode. Mark went into politics. Grandma gave them too many expensive toys. And they moved slow as molasses in the shower. When I instruct them what to do better, they tell me to stop talking. They give me back talk, holler at me and manipulate the rest of the night.
So I resigned. I said to my husband, “Can you do the shower?” and I walked away. For a brief restful time. Out on the deck. And sat down and checked out. But the mom guilt brought me back. I love them so much. I will take breaks but I will always be back.
Later on, instead of going to bed, they kept demanding hugs, questions, sympathy, anything to keep the convo going. This turned into me saying “Knock it off, Go to bed!” This then turned into them crying, me threatening, them yelling, me spanking, them crying, my explaining and hugging and asking who the boss is. And on it goes.
It was a baaaaad birthday parenting fail. And it’s for a lot of reasons. But a big one is, I couldn’t keep my anger in check. I couldn’t control enough of the night or their lives for that matter to make thing work well. My standards are too high to handle today’s messiness.
Time to up those antidepressants, guilt my husband into helping more, set stricter bedtime rules and consequences, and put this birthday behind us.
I guess I won’t resign just yet. But failing as a parent feels awful. And who fails this bad on a birthday??? Next year, we will definitely do something on a weekend! A party would be easier.
What’s personal is universal, so if you have a similar story, comment below!
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