The Bad Guy
I always end up the Bad Guy.
I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I am a stay-at-home Mom, and therefore the main adult my children see a majority of the day. Every day. From the time they get up until the time Hubby gets home, I call the shots. And it makes me look like the villain.
Recently, it's started to weigh on my heart. I'm running in a lot of directions right now, and while I aim to give my kiddos all the time and attention they need, it's inevitable that things actually have to get done from time to time. Groceries need to be purchased, floors need to be swept, checks need to be brought to the bank, and for the sanity of all that is sacred, play dates need to happen.
The Current 'That Age': 3½
But Little Chica is at That Age. Although I'd imagine every parent feels that whatever age their child is currently at is That Age. Currently, That Age is really starting to wear on me. Somehow, my beautiful 3½-year-old's natural most instinctive reaction to anything I say involves digging in her heals, obstinately refusing and stubbornly (and as creatively as possible) asserting the answer NO.
Me (as Mary Poppinsy as possible): Ok! We have school today! Time to get dressed.
LC (arms crossed and the stink eye plain across her face): NO!
Me (cheerfully): Well, we'd better get a move on! How about I help you put your shoes on?
LC (shrieking unnecessarily, causing the neighbors to become concerned): I don't WANT to put on my shoes.
Me (attempting to be bright but rational): Well, Lovie, how can we go to school in our pajamas and no shoes?
LC (with every ounce of teenager she can muster): I don't CARE. Don't TALK to me that way!
Me (all rainbows and unicorns and sunshine): Aw, sweetheart. Well, we need to go to school today. And I have to go to the grocery store because we are, literally, out of food. See the empty pantry and fridge?
LC (tears falling, hysterically screaming, body convulsing on the floor): BUT I WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL! KDJHKJDHFKJHDKJHDFKJHKJDHFKJDFH (something undecipherable).
Me (at a complete loss for what just happened and how the tables just turned): ....
This has become my day, every day. Every moment is a battle, every question is a NO before it's even asked. I have ceased being productive (including but not limited to: grocery shopping, cleaning, parenting, cooking, various and sundry other errands and generally keeping myself at a baseline of hygiene). I can't serve breakfast, get the kids dressed, request one last attempt at the potty before leaving the house without a fight. And getting to the car, let alone anywhere, on time?
I've given up on punctuality a long time ago.
Sometimes It Hurts
While at times I can see the humor in the situation, I've realized today that I'm hurt. I'm hurt by my 3-and-a-half year old daughter. And some days? I can't let it go.
I am tired of being the Bad Guy.
Because while I spend my days battling Parenthood at home, other people swoop in at various times as the victor. The Protagonist. The Good Guy. They come in gloriously on a cloud with blaring trumpets while I sit and stir poisoned apple stew in my antagonistic Bad Guy corner. Don't get me wrong: I absolutely love the people in my life that love my kids. My friends, my family. And most especially, my husband.
I love that when Hubby comes home, my girls race to the door to meet him. Despite the fact that deep down I wonder if they are not just running to their Daddy, but rather running away from me. He's fresh, not having fought the same battles all day long. He has a whole storehouse of patience and jokes and games to play, while I sit holding my empty sack of Mommy Tricks. They never refuse him, never throw a tantrum, never give him the hairy eyeball. He asks, they respond.
From the Good Guys perspective, I probably look like an impatiently raving lunatic who has no idea what she is doing. I'm sure my husband wonders why I'm fried by the time he walks in the door. Why some days I resent my kids for what they've put me through. Why the simple act of refusing to use a fork at dinner is enough to send me into hysterics. Why the kids only seem to react negatively against me and no one else.
Why it's so easy to feel like the worst mother in the world whose children would be better off raised by wolves than this woman who has a total lack of parenting skills.
I'm sure he wonders why, and at the end of the day I sigh and try to explain.
Because. Because it's been a long day. In a long week. In a long month. In a long experience called Parenthood. Oh, there are good days. Days when the kids get along and we laugh and play and wear white dresses and frolic in meadows. And there are dark days where tantrums leave me traumatized, staring off into space, rocking while I hug myself and mumble.
(Yeah. I've been there.)
I tell him I want are more good days. Less bad days. More cooperation. Less refusals. More understanding. Less accusations.
But most of all?
Most of all I want to be the Good Guy. The wonderfully incredible Superhero who swoops in to save the day. The Protagonist who has a bag full of fun ideas and games and creative crafts. Whose storehouse of patience is endless, whose kindness and grace has yet to be rivaled. The mom whose voice has no capability of yelling, whose smile is unable to stay off her face.
I want to be Little Chica's Super Mom.
Today may not be that day, with it's path of destruction already paved. But I can look ahead. Yes, tonight before I climb into bed, I can mentally tie the Good Guy cape around my shoulders. I can imagine filling my bag full of creative ideas and games and jokes. And I can take a deep breath, multiplying my patience in preparation for the day ahead.
Today may have been a bad day.
But there is always tomorrow.
Stephanie Anderson is a West Chester, PA mom. Read her blog, Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom, at ModernDayDonnaReed.blogspot.com