That’s what my 2-year-old called me. “A hot mess.” And he was right.
It’s been a hard couple of days being a Mom. It started yesterday with my automatic van doors refusing to open and close when I push the button on my key pad. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the number of times we load and unload into the van, me getting the infant in on one side, the big kids loading on the other side, and the toddler needing to be buckled, it really does simplify the process considerably.
My friend was supposed to pick up my daughter to take her to school, changing our usual routine. I forgot about it, loaded everyone into the car (noting that it smelled like urine), and showed up at her house right on time, feeling pretty proud of myself! I honked the horn. Her daughter walked outside in her PJs, looking confused. My phone rang. It was my friend – My she had overslept. My spaciness actually helped me out this time! Hooray for being forgetful! “It’s going to be a great day,” I thought.
After driving carpool, getting in and out of the car every time the sliding door needed to be opened and closed, I went home and finally took the time to print out the necessary documents to file our Homestead Exemption (which expired over a year ago) at City Hall. It was raining, so I figured the lines would be short. And it being so early in the day, I was certain the parking garage would have empty spaces. I packed up my 2 little ones, remembering to pack diapers, wipes, and a bottle, and to put a Pull-Up on my potty-training toddler. “Doing great, Mom,” I said to myself.
I went to put the toddler in his car seat and remembered the urine smell. I forgot he had an accident while we were running errands yesterday. His seat was soaked. I went to take his seat out of the car when I realized it wasn’t even strapped to the seat! Thank God I hadn’t gotten into an accident! Who knows how long it had been like that!
I removed his seat and found his new pair of shoes underneath…also covered in urine. I had to go up in the attic to get a spare car seat, no small task when you consider how big car seats are, how small the attic opening is, and my irrational fear of finding a dead body in my attic.
I installed the new car seat in the van and got the babies in the car, not realizing it was during rush hour. And we were headed downtown…in the rain. So I hadn’t thought through everything! We sat in traffic, singing our children’s songs, trying to have a sunny outlook. We made it to our exit, and followed the MapQuest directions which put us on a little side road that was bumper to bumper traffic.
After moving one block in about 10 minutes, I finally made it to the stoplight and was able to make the turn onto City Hall’s street. I started looking for the City Park parking garage. We went around 3 corners of the block, finally seeing the garage. But there was a sign that said, “City Hall – No public parking.” Cars were backing up behind me, so I panicked and kept driving, wondering if that sign meant you could only park there if you were going to City Hall, or if only the higher-ups who worked at City Hall could park there.
We looped around the lot, back around to the garage, and pulled in the entrance up to the automatic arm. I didn’t see a button to push to get my ticket, so I rolled down my window and said, “Hello-o!” to the non-existant security guard. A car pulled in behind me. I was trapped. I got out of my car and nicely asked the driver of the car behind me if people going to City Hall could park there. He said shortly, “No! It’s by pass only!” Oops.
He backed up into traffic, cars honking all the while, I backed up in front of him, and looped around the block again, calculating how wet my babies would get if I parked on the street on the back side of City Hall. And then I saw an spot open up!
I excitedly pulled into the empty spot, a rare occurrence, for sure. I thought maybe my parking angels were going to come through for me! I reached for my umbrella, forgetting that the kids had played with the umbrellas in the sprinkler the day before. Oops. The rain picked up. My calculations taking into consideration the rain and the distance to the door from that parking spot with no umbrealla? We would get very wet.
On to Plan C! I decided to park in a garage near City Hall. At least I could get the kids out of the car and into the stroller while staying dry, right? Then I could make a dash for it through the rain and up the…steps? I’d figure it out as I went, I thought. I pulled into this garage and saw the sign, “Cash only.” I gripped the steering wheel and yelled to no one in particular, “Done! I’m done! We’re going home!”
As we headed home, I decided to stop by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription that should have been ready. I’d been calling the doctor and pharmacy for about a week trying to figure out why the prescription wasn’t there, spoke with the nurse yesterday, and she assured me that she had finally called it in.
We got to the pharmacy, I got the babies out of the car, manually closed both sliding doors, and we ran through the rain inside, only to be told by the pharmacist that they still hadn’t heard from my doctor. “But I spoke to her yesterday! She promised she’d call it in!” I sighed. I called my doctor. She called it in to the other pharmacy I use. Oops. Back into the rain, back into the car, back to manually closing both van doors.
By the time I got home, it was only 9:30. My toddler was playing with a light-up gun that made Star Wars noises. As I was trying to get him to use the potty, helping him pull down his Pull Up, he flailed his arms to keep his balance and pistol whipped me in the eyebrow. Smack! I thought for sure I was bleeding, was going to need stitches, had a concussion at the very least.
I went to the bathroom, trying to see clearly through my tears, only to see a tiny little red mark, one I could barely see. I am such a wimp, I thought. My kids hurt themselves all day long, get huge welts, and brush it off! Here I am, crying in the bathroom over a little red mark. It was going to be a long day, I thought.
Then I remembered our play group meets at 10:00. It’d be a great way to get through the rest of the morning until nap time! It’s a neatgroup of ladies who I really enjoy being around. We had a blissful half hour of drinking juice and eating cheese puffs before my toddler said he had to go to the bathroom. I jumped up, put the baby down, and ran with him to the potty since we have a very narrow window of time before he has an accident.
I got him on the potty, stood in front of him while he held on to my legs (so he didn’t have to touch the seat), and I peered into the back of the potty to look for the water moving, a confirmation that he was indeed going to the bathroom. No movement at all, just warmth down my leg and puddling into my boots. When I realized what was happening, I jumped back, causing him to lose his balance and spray urine all of the wall.
Son of a gun!!!!!!! He had peed all over his pants, my jeans, my boots, and the floor. I slumped my shoulders, mopped up the floor with paper towels, walked back out to the play group, and said sucking back the tears saying, “I’m done. We’re going home. I just got peed on.”
Enough already! Why does this Mommy thing have to be so trying?! I know my kids are healthy and happy and no one has special needs, but regular ol’ kids can still be very, very hard to care for.
So, what can we do? What can we ladies do when we’ve had enough, when we feel like leaving, quitting, giving the kids back?
Cry. You may feel stupid, but it sure makes you feel better. I definitely don’t do this enough!
Talk to someone. Call a girlfriend and complain about how awful your day has been. Call the one who feels like she’s hugging you through the phone. If you need, show up at her house unannounced, like down on her couch, let your kids play together, and commiserate.
Have a sense of humor. If you can’t laugh at the ridiculousness of your life, you’re screwed. When you’re telling your friend about what a hard day you’ve had, laugh at it all.
Ask for help. Call your Mom, your sister, your husband, your neighbor. See if someone can come get your kids and come over and watch them so you can get a break. It’s humbling to ask, and usually inconvenient for the helper, but all parents understand. All of them! I definitely don’t ask for help enough.
Pray. Invite God into the moment, even if it’s a really ugly moment. I ask God to supplement my parenting all of the time, especially when I’m struggling to be a good Mom. Sometimes I yell at Him too. Trust me, he can handle it.
Fake it. After really stressful mornings, my husband and I sometimes realize we haven’t smiled in hours. We make ourselves smile – big, cheesy grins – even though it’s the last thing in the world we want to do. We usually end up laughing at ourselves because we look incredibly ridiculous. For whatever reason, this is effective. I think it breaks the tension and forces you to lighten up a bit.
Take a shower and get dressed. Many Moms don’t take 5 minutes to get themselves together for the day. Put the kids in front of the TV and go take a bath or a shower. It’s called water therapy and it works. When you get out, put on real clothes (not gym clothes) and makeup, and do your hair. You’ll feel more beautiful, more confident, more capable of handling what challenges lay ahead.
Watch viral videos. I’m not kidding. Youtube is a gift to stressed people everywhere. There are hilarious and touching videos around every click. My favorites are videos of people coming out of anesthesia, Ellen Degeneres speaking to Gladys on the phone, and Christian the lion reuniting with his handler.
Hang in there, ladies. This season of life with young children is short – at least, that’s what I hear. When you’re in it, it doesn’t feel very short, does it? One last word of caution: when you’re really at the end of your rope, it’s easy to get into old, bad habits. Some people start drinking too much, eating too much, sleeping too much, smoking too much, spanking too hard, yelling too loud, etc. By trying some of these diversions above, my prayer is that you can avoid getting to that point.
Instead of screaming at my kids, I’m writing this article. Please let me know what I can do to be helpful and supportive of you. We Moms need to stick together!
Much Mommy love,
Mommy Mentor CurlyQ