“Why are you so grumpy?” my 12-year-old tween asks as I drive aimlessly from the middle school down the bumpy road home. My shoulder is throbbing from a rotator cuff injury that I failed to attend therapy for this week because I found myself just too busy once again. My arm twitches in pain as I flex to keep the off-road wheels of the lifted jeep straight. “I’m not grumpy,” I impolitely snap back. “Oh, really?” she questions me. This kid actually has the balls to question me on a day like this. The drive then turns into a 15-minute lecture on communication, with me encouraging her to use I statements instead of accusatory questions to begin a conversation.
The truth is I was grumpy. I am grumpy. Today I’m grumpy mom. It wasn’t until my daughter accused me of being grumpy that I realized just how grumpy I was. As soon as she mouthed the words I felt it. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, pressing me down into wet cement as I tried to reach for a life ring that no one was holding. No one was holding a life ring for me because I’m too stubborn to admit defeat. I immediately felt defensive because I was defeated. I was beaten by the universe of suck today 1-0.
My fingers are stained from the numerous failed batches of bath bombs I’m selling on Etsy. None of them came out right today…none of them. I have 2 burns I’m nursing on my left thumb from grabbing a hot pan after dinner. The husband just came over to see if I’m working on that 12-page paper that’s due tomorrow. Nope. I’m sure not. I’m simply not capable of doing anything academic until I process the suck of the day first.
It all began yesterday. My 8-year-old girl had a complete meltdown. It was a doozy. It was one that involved loud, hysterical sobbing and I’m pretty sure she had boogers from her nose to her ears by the time she was done. She told me she’s no longer going to school. She told me the kids were distracting and she’s miserable and insisted on being homeschooled from now on. She’s been bullied off and on this year so it’s no surprise. Then I start putting it together. The emotional outbursts, the anger, the mean things she’s said this year, and the training bras. She’s hitting puberty early. Crap.
I do believe this realization was what triggered the type of day I would have today. It began with me listening to that little voice inside. The voice of criticism is completely overwhelming for me when poked. It began with me telling myself last night that I’m a crappy parent for being more involved in her schooling. To be honest, we haven’t touched the books in weeks, I don’t volunteer, and I haven’t even had lunch with her even though I’ve been off work. Suddenly everything is my fault and I feel like a terrible human. There it is, my old familiar friend, the voice of criticism.
The critic inside me continued from last night through the day today. Nothing I did was right. Nothing. I couldn’t get started on my paper because I couldn’t cite right. I couldn’t do the bills because I’m not responsible enough, and I certainly couldn’t do the laundry because I’m lazy. I did manage to ruin a dozen things I attempted to do throughout the day. I plugged along, “failing” at everything and listening to the voice of criticism all day until my daughter reminded me I’m grumpy mom today.
In a feeble attempt to get out of my head my little one and I head to the nursery to look at some plants I want to buy for the land. That’ll do it. I convince myself that this distraction is everything I need at the moment. Before I knew it the 8-year-old was poking pollen filled flowers and then rubbing the pollen in her sensitive, allergy ridden, eczema surrounded eyes. She soon howled in pain and whimpered while I checked out. I was frustrated at the events of my “distraction.” Now I was a selfish mom. We get to the parking lot where she demands I call a doctor to save her. O.M.G….
I demand she stop touching her eye while she continues to poke at it, she’s now poking the bear. The momma bear in me roars out to her to stop being dramatic. One minute she’s a pubescent little mini tween and the next she’s a toddler poking her allergic little eyes with pollen. What the hell am I supposed to make of all this? I don’t know what I’m doing. We ride home in silence. The voice in my head is screaming, telling me what a crappy mom I am and what I could have done differently. I probably should have taken her to the bathroom to wash it out, why didn’t I do that? Why am I so stupid and selfish?
A tear runs down my cheek as my shoulder pulsates in pain from the stupid speed bumps in the parking lot. “I’m sorry,” I say it from the bottom of my heart. My heart is apologizing for the things I’m not as a mother. She looks at me with those big brown eyes and tells me it’s ok. I tell her I’m just having a grumpy mom day and nothing is going right. “I love you momma” she reassures me. I tell her I love her too and reassure her we’ll go home, and be just fine.
Motherhood is hard. There are difficulties when they’re babies, difficulties when they’re children, difficulties when they are teens, and the difficulties never really end. They just change with time. The most difficult thing I find in motherhood is overcoming that nagging voice of inadequacy, the voice of criticism that constantly torments me.
Oftentimes I find myself floating aimlessly in this turbulent sea of motherhood until someone throws me a life ring. That someone sometimes ends up being my children. That doesn’t make me a terrible mother, it makes me a raw human being, and I think the world needs more of that.
I hope you get to enjoy your Mother’s Day weekend. Try not to listen to the voice of the inner critic. That bitch is a liar anyway.
Mommin ain’t easy. But it sure is worth it.