It isn’t easy to admit, but it’s where I’m at.
I used to be the fun mom.
Key words: used to be.
Before my second son was born (and before the pandemic, obviously) my first and I used to go everywhere together. Playground? Check. Out to lunch? Don’t forget dessert. Movies? Extra large popcorn, please. We were two peas in a pod. Yelling was scarce; snuggles on the couch were abundant. We colored and played board games and read books. We sang songs and baked cookies and watched The Iron Giant on repeat.
Fast forward to one extra baby, a year spent almost entirely indoors, and a remote kindergarten debacle. We still do these things, we do, and it isn’t to be taken for granted like before, when we have to hide from his baby brother to have a moment together. We play video games and sneak off to art studios, we still have story time and we’ve walked over sharks together. But this year has also put a static in the air that wasn’t there before, and it’s left me feeling like one big failure.
Let me begin by saying how truly proud I am of my five (almost SIX) year old. Like thousands of other children he has been learning from behind a screen, and he has been thriving, really. He is reading on a second grade level and (mostly) participates. Is every day perfect? Absolutely not. Is it good enough? Better than I expected, even? Yes. Yes it is. And we really can’t expect much right now.
Yet I’ve been mean. I’ve been a version of me that I can’t stand. I push him more than I should. I allow too much screen time then I become frustrated when he seems more interested in Roblox than in school. I yell-whisper for him to pay attention! I frown when he doesn’t finish his dinner. I’m annoyed when he fights bed time. I growl when he refuses to put on his shoes.
You get the picture. I’m the damn Grinch.
It’s spring now and thankfully we’ve been spending lots of time outdoors, but I’m still learning to get my frustrations in check. He is five. He’s going through it. We’re all going through it. But he isn’t saying it in simple to understand terms: Mommy, I’ve had enough.
This is how he’s saying it:
By wanting to play too much Roblox. (Pandemic screen time is a joke.) By not paying attention. By fighting bed time. By refusing to put on his shoes. By an overall attitude that comes out more often than it used to, and one that is simply feeding off of mama’s own negativity.
I’ve heard the guilt of thinking you’re a bad mother means you’re actually a damn good one, and if that’s the truth, then call me Mother of the Year.
I’m trying. Every day, I swear I’m trying.