We spend our summer months in a small town in the Rim Country of Arizona. Going up there, I have a lot of help with packing and with the kiddos – “many hands make light work”. It is fun – we are all looking forward to the cool pines, the summer house, the time in the green surroundings and the afternoon rains. The energy rides high and moving is a dream.
We arrive – we unpack – life is amazing. As a parent, I have less pressure. We do a summer schedule for school, so there is more time for writing during the day and more sleep. There are no alarm clocks. Instead of appointments and classes every day we do one thing a two days a week: horseback riding. More time in the beauty of creation and watching our children enjoy something and working together. Once a month, we go to Lego club. Farmer’s Market on Saturdays where we run into friends from town and “lowlanders” that summer like us.
It is an amazing gift for our family.
Summer is over and now we are gearing up for life back in our hometown. Hello, moving day.
Wednesday I felt the complete opposite of “idyllic”. I was feeling perfection pressure because we have friends coming up to use the house this weekend. I wanted the drawers perfect and the cabinets perfect and the beds perfect. Because perfect is. I was feeling time pressure because I overslept. I had planned to spend “perfecting” before the kiddos woke up. That was gone because I woke up late, and besides, I wanted to get down here in time to have our nanny help us unpack. As if that wasn’t enough on my plate, I was rushing to make it back in time for our afternoon appointments at 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm. I was feeling parenting pressure – could I really have them watch television all morning while I packed? Why are my children using their hands hurtfully today? Why isn’t this “gentle parenting” thing working on the day when I need it the most??
I kept it all inside for about four hours. And then I Y.E.L.L.E.D. The top-of-my-lungs why are you people driving me crazy yell. I hate myself. I wonder how yelling can be any different than hitting when it is that kind of yelling.
So I own it. I tell them I am sorry. I can’t ask for forgiveness yet…I have to earn that. I ask them if that was the Crazy Mommy. I ask if we can all make different choices. Then I ask if I can yell in a fun way because I still feel like I need to yell. So I start saying everything with a funnier yell. I blow off some steam. We all start laughing and have a great lunch together.
I still feel a pit in my stomach. I Y.E.L.L.E.D. at these beautiful little people entrusted to my care. I scared them. I wounded them a little and lost their trust – how much, time will tell. I hate myself. I hate that part of me that yells. I can’t be proud of the fact that I don’t spank them because yelling is not any better.
I forgot one very important thing that day: If I was feeling pressure as an adult, how could I forget that these little people are also feeling? I talk about newborns adjusting to life outside of the womb to our students. How could I forget about my own children? Yes, they are talking. However, they don’t tell me, “Mommy, I feel…can you help me?” because as parents we do not model that. (Note to self: start talking/ processing out loud some more.)
Looking back, their behavior was absolutely understandable. One of our children is devastated because we have our house for sale. As much as we love our summer home and our summer town, we are pragmatic. It can’t be reasonable to keep up two households for three months of use per year – an 8-year old can’t possibly “get” that – all she knows is that she is hurt and angry about the decision because she will miss her summer friends. Another child can’t understand that his favorite things are coming with him and he keeps unpacking them, and can’t understand why I am still putting them back in their place to make the move. Our youngest just wants to nurse because she can feel turmoil (and as it turns out, I just saw a new tooth yesterday).
I forgot them. I didn’t listen to the words they weren’t saying. So as much as I would rather forget that Wednesday happened, I can’t. I have to remember. I have to do better next time. I owe it to them.
Has anyone else been there? How do you handle it? How do you do better for next time?