Let me clarify. I’m one of those people whose fuse is very long, but who also gives very little warning that my fuse is almost at its end. For example, I’ve had coworkers who repeatedly took advantage of those of us around them. Working in restaurants there are always those coworkers who consistently take the last lemon and don’t restock, use the last glass without replacing the rack, take the last mint, etc. Those same people usually go out of their way to boast about how much money they make. Well, good for you. I probably could have made that much too, but I was too busy backtracking all night restocking all the things you left empty.
While working at a popular Italian chain restaurant a few years ago, I worked with such an employee. One night, while standing in the server station, I watched her repeatedly throw pieces of ice at the bartender in jest. Then she laughed about it. I was calm and collected until she gave me the “what are you gonna do about it” look. That’s when I lost it. I spewed forth everything I had been holding in for the previous 2 years of working with her in approximately 5 minutes. I finished my rant red-faced and panting because I’m pretty sure I didn’t take a breath the whole time. She was looking at me with absolute terror on her face. One of my closest friends, who witnessed the entire scene, had the biggest grin on her face and looked at me and said, “That was amazing.” The coworker feared me the rest of the time we worked together and would go out of her way to let me know what she had restocked and how much extra sidework she had done.
Let me remind you: I’m 5’1″ and at the time I was about 100lbs soaking wet. There is nothing about me that’s intimidating. I don’t tell this story to make myself seem all big and bad. I’m merely setting the scene.
Unfortunately, this personality flaw is also evident in my parenting style. I’m fine, cool, collected, and fun. Until I’m not. And then, hell hath no fury…
I have a 6-year old and a 2-month old. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in months. I’m attempting to get my body back in shape (or at least strengthen it) but I’m still weak in some areas. My husband works a lot of overtime, so there are many days when I do all the parenting and housework alone. I try to start off the day Mary Poppins, mom-of-the-year style. By the end of the day, though, I’m done. I’ve had enough. As much as I love these little people, I need them far away from me in dreamland so that a) I can have 5 minutes of peace, and b) I can attempt to get some sleep before the youngest is back up for his next bottle.
Oh, and did I mention I’m an introvert? An extroverted introvert, I guess, but an introvert nonetheless. The best way for me to describe it is this: I can do the outgoing, happy, love you, love life, constantly smiling thing when I have to. And for the most part, I’m not faking that. I have worked in the customer service industry for almost 20 years now. You can’t fake it for that long. You just can’t. I honestly love my job most of the time. And then I clock out. And I don’t want to talk to anyone or put on the smile or do anything, really. I want to go home and read a book and let my battery recharge- silently.
Except when you’re a mom you never get to recharge your battery. Ever. Not completely anyway. You have to be “on” all the time. All. The. Time. I still haven’t found a way to do that. I try. I try so hard. I read books and blogs about being patient. I pin all the summer activities and parenting hacks I can find. I start the day with so many plans and so much enthusiasm.
I’m running on a maximum of 5 hours of consecutive sleep on any given day. I have a 2-month old who needs me for everything and a 6-year old who wants me for everything. The 2-month old is fussy and the 6-year old is bored. I am being pulled from every angle and I feel some days like they are sucking the life out of me. But I love them more than life so I continue to let them. I run on an uncharged battery because they are worth it.
I’m trying to be more patient. I’m trying to remember that the 6-year old is exactly that- just a 6-year old. That she will only want me to be a part of everything she does for a little while longer before she doesn’t want me there at all. I try to make a little extra time for her while the baby is sleeping so that she doesn’t feel left out or left behind. I try to hug her a little longer and to be quicker to forgive her mistakes because she really doesn’t know any better. I try to remember that the baby is still getting used to this loud and crazy world. That each day he is learning something new and that I’m the lucky one because I get to witness all of it. That soon he too will be bigger and will be running around like a maniac. That one day he won’t want to fall asleep on my chest or cuddle into me. I’m trying to be patient, kind, and a good mother.
Until 11pm. Then all bets are off and everyone better be asleep.