"This shit is hard."
This - the final sentence in an email from a fellow working mama of two the other day - was in response to my describing my absolute failures as a mother that morning.
It had been a good morning, until it was time to put on our shoes. And by "our", I mean the almost 4-year-old who has suddenly decided she's the Anna Wintour of toddler hand-me-downs... with a special penchant for shoes and socks. Socks, which, btw... we haven't worn in over four months because it's summer and Mommy refuses to deal with socks in the summer. It's a standing rule in the house. Which is why none of the socks in the drawer are matched... and likely won't be until the first snow flies. Which means that when someone decides they must have the pink and white socks and wants Mommy to find the match to the one she's clutching so excitedly in her little hand, but Mommy is running SUPER late for work and it's still freaking 90 degrees out.... well, you can do the math.
I won't get into all the deets of the massive meltdown that proceeded me carrying her kicking and screaming... and shoeless... out to the car that morning. But refrains of the Louis CK standup about his 4-year-old daughter that wouldn't put on her shoes were ringing in my head the entire time.
"Put your shoes on. Put your shoes on. Put your shoes on. How many times can you say that to someone before you want to kick them right in the face? Seriously. If you're with a group of people who want to go somewhere and you can't go because a member of your party just REFUSES to put their shoes on? That person is a f*$%@# asshole."
I remember laughing at that bit.
Before I had kids.
Because back then, the bit was just a bit. And it was funny. I laugh at it now. But now... now it's just so damn true that when I laugh about it, it's only in a attempt not to cry at the honesty and truth that people without kids don't get. And won't get. And they shouldn't have to get. Until they have a 4-year-old sharing a house with them.
Parenting is hard, there's no other way to look at it. And it's like you have 99 fails a day... and maybe one success. And in my case, sometimes the only success I have that day is not eating both girls whole to just make the noise and the fighting and the "Why?" stop... which I'm convinced is why so many animals eat their young. THEY'VE. JUST. FREAKIN'. HAD. IT.
Other days, my parenting success is getting the laundry out of the wash before it starts to mold and has to be washed again. Tonight, it happened to be noticing that the washer wasn't working because I had too many items in the wash and it was unbalanced. I try to do all of the laundry in one load... because sorting is for sissys. But, seriously... if I hadn't been at the top of my very short game, I would have had zero underwear for tomorrow.
Sometimes my only success is using what a friend of mine calls Mommy Jedi Ninja Skills to proactively avoid an argument between the girls or with the girls. Which is downright exhausting. And means that the pink plate that they both want has to conveniently disappear for a few weeks just so our morning muffins aren't spoiled with tears over who got the pink plate that day.
It means that instead of having one of the girls let the dog out of her kennel in the morning or when we get home for the day, I have to do it just to avoid the absolute devastation one of them will feel if she doesn't get to let the dog out.
It means that instead of the one fly-swatter I need to deal with a moth/fly problem in the house (which, I'm starting to maybe feel like I'm oversharing exactly what a bad housekeeper I am, but it's not like I have dignity these days, so whaddaygonnado?) I have to buy two. And I have to write their names on each of them. And then I have to lie to them when I use one to kill a fly because if one asks you whose swatter I used and I tell them it was her sissy's? END. OF. DAYS. So, I'm constantly lying about whose swatter got the kill. And seriously... I mean, I know I'm competitive, but these girls put me to shame.
It means that I have to actually sneak Millie fiber gummy bears when Hazel is out of the room because she'll want some. And Hazel does NOT need any more fiber in her diet. So say I. So say her teachers. She's GOOD.
It means that in every single situation in which the girls are present or could possibly become present, I have to determine what will cause a fight 5 minutes from now, and remove that from the equation. This is called putting out fires before they are fires.
And then... yes, it must be said... adding a full-time career to the mix certainly doesn't help the feelings of inadequacy or guilt that comes with the above list actually being something that you brag about to your husband at night.
"Hey... how were the girls tonight?"
"Oh... they were good. I threw Millie's blanket into the garbage because it was either that or eat her when she hit me... and she cried for 3 hours. I should probably get that out and wash it."
"Yea... I also told Hazel she was acting like a child. So.... I win all parenting competitions."
And that right there? That's my day in a nutshell with the girls. Tonight, I actually took a 5-minute video of the nonsense going on with a 3-year-old trying to be good, but getting teased mercilessly by both her 2-year-old sissy and the damn dog. The damn dog, btw, is about to be shipped off to a farm. She ate Millie's Fiber One bar this morning and it only takes one of those things for me to get the squirts, so tonight should be awesome. And then during tubby time, my Ninja sense told me to go check in the kitchen because it was too damn quiet. That's when I found her STANDING ON THE TABLE, muzzle deep in the pot roast the girls hadn't eaten off their plates (because, apparently, they only eat grapes on Tuesdays).
But, I digress. The video tonight was just constant loop of what our lives are right now. Hazel trying to be a big girl and do something on her own, Millie stomping all over that something... like Godzilla. Hazel freaking out. Millie laughing about it. Bonnie trying to snatch a latent crumb off of Hazel's upper lip. Hazel freaking out. Millie laughing about it. Me yelling at Bonnie. Millie messing with Hazel's project again. Hazel freaking out. Hazel scratching/hitting/pushing Millie because she won't leave her alone and is ruining EVERYTHING. Millie crying. Mommy telling Millie that maybe she should have respected Hazel's words. Millie quickly recovering. Millie going over and messing with Hazel AGAIN.
All night long.
And, I mean... who knows what the right play is here as the parent?? I'm fairly certain I shouldn't be laughing at Millie when she's crying from her make-believe but totally deserved injury. And I'm 80% certain that I shouldn't allow Hazel to hit/scratch/push anyone. But... I just can't. I don't see the girls all day and then when I do see them, I'm constantly playing referee or end up in a fight with one of them. And that's in between all the "Why?" nonsense. Swear to God, I had to institute a rule that if I tell the girls to do or not to do something and their response is "Why?", they have to go in timeout. The problem with THAT little ditty is Millie actually likes to sit in timeout. FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, I HAD TO REMOVE THE TIMEOUT CHAIR BECAUSE SHE WAS PURPOSELY TRYING TO GET SENT TO TIMEOUT SO SHE COULD SIT IN IT.
This is what I'm working with.
Seriously. This shit IS hard.