When I got to work today, I turned off the car and sat in the parking lot... mentally calculating how many arguments I had already been in that day.
Fifteen. Fifteen arguments between 6:45 and 8:30 this morning. And that just sucks. Even worse, the arguments were between me and two little girls that just recently stopped pooping their pants. For the most part.
Even worse than that? I'm not sure that I, at 37, won any of the arguments. Sure, sure... raising kids is not about winning or losing. EXCEPT THAT IT IS. And anyone who wants to argue that point with me can go ahead and bring it. I'm already at 15 arguments today. What's a few more?
To say that this morning was not my best parenting moment is putting it lightly. I mean, I didn't yell. And I didn't scream... but was there joy? Was there peace? NO. But there was me impatiently explaining for the fifth time this morning that it's raining outside so tennis shoes are required because I'm tired of hearing about your feet getting wet in your sandals. And also? You already have a sore throat and I don't need to roll the dice on you getting sicker. And also? Pants and long sleeves will not kill you. I know you think they will, but no one has ever died from pants and long sleeves instead of shorts and short sleeves or a dress. NO. ONE. Unless it's the mother who just said screw it and drove off a cliff after the umpteenth argument about it. And no... see, I've already played that game with you about wearing what you want and suffering the consequences. You know who suffered the consequences when you were cold? ME. I had to listen to the whining and crying about you being cold... and yet, here we are. Fighting about this. Again. Because contrary to what everyone says will happen if I try this little parenting trick on you, NEITHER OF YOU HAVE LEARNED. So, I've now taken the choice out of your hands. Because I'm tired of it. There's going to be tears and a fight anyway, may as well do it while we're at least warm and dry. And no... you asked for oatmeal. That's oatmeal. I don't care if it's in the wrong bowl. Eat it. You! Please. Sit. Down. and eat your breakfast before blood starts coming out of my eyes. No! I already told you...you're wearing tennis shoes today. Because your other shoes gave you an owie on your toe. And it's raining outside. No. You cannot have Mommy's breakfast. BECAUSE THE LAST TIME YOU HAD SOME OF MOMMY'S BREAKFAST, YOU DIDN'T LIKE IT AND SPIT IT OUT... BACK INTO MOMMY'S BOWL. Just eat your own breakfast please!! It's fine that you don't have the same cup as your sissy. YOU WILL SURVIVE. Yes. We have to brush your hair. Because we haven't brushed it in 4 days and people will start to talk. No. You cannot have fruit treats right now. We only have fruit treats in the morning when we're camping. No! You cannot take your play computer to school. Leave it here please. Because I said so. Oh! You don't want to go to school? That's SHOCKING. Please get in the car. I don't care who gets in first, one of you get in, the other one follow! We don't have the Frozen CD in the car right now (because I hid it for my sanity). I'm sorry. I'M SORRY. That's life. We have a gazillion other songs, let's try one of those. No. I'm sorry you don't like it, but that doesn't mean you get to scream the whole way to drown it out.
And that was my morning. So, when I pulled into the parking lot at work, I was more than a little frazzled and disappointed in what the morning had been. So often I find myself sitting alone - either in the car or on the toilet... JUST KIDDING! I never get to sit alone on the toilet! - and thinking about what kind of mother I had envisioned myself to be... back when I didn't have kids. And it's just not meshing with my reality. And honestly... that's a huge, depressing bummer. The kind of bummer that leaves you sitting in your car in an empty parking lot and getting teary-eyed because SHIT. This sucks. I suck. The whole world just SUCKS.
That's when my girl, Tracy Chapman, joined me in the car. She put her arm around me with a few versus and let me know... this is okay. You're doing okay. You're doing the best you can. And at this point in your life, that's okay.
Well, actually what she said was:
"At this point in my life, I've done so many things wrong.... don't know if I can do right. Put your trust in me... hope I won't let you down. Give me a chance... I'll try. See it's been a hard road, the road I'm traveling on. If I take your hand, I might lead you down the path to ruin. Had a hard life... I'm just saying it so you'll understand. Right now, right now, I'm doing the best I can. At this point in my life, although I've mostly walked in the shadows... I'm still searching for the light. Won't you put your faith in me, we both know that's what matters. If you give me a chance, I'll try. You see I've been climbing stairs, but mostly stumbling down. I've been reaching high always losing ground. You see I've conquered hills but I still have mountains to climb. And right now right now I'm doing the best I can. At this point in my life."
And if that's not a parenting motto that everyone need to sing to themselves once a day... maybe in an empty parking lot when they finally have a moment to themselves, I don't know what is. At the very least, it's the soundtrack to my life, right now. Which is good because we all need a good soundtrack to get us through the day.
So, tonight... we try again.
I try to find the joy that was missing this morning.
I remember that it's a journey.
I remember that my children... they're also doing the best they can.
At this point in their lives.