I’m not cut out for this.
I turn around in my seat, having just finished hollering something ineffective and useless like, “I mean it!” And the children don’t care, and they aren’t listening, and I am filled with rage.
I’m not cut out for this parenting thing.
We are on our way back from Lake Tahoe. We went up for the day, to celebrate the Fourth of July, and I actually gave myself the day off, though it was tempting to work instead. Mostly to get caught up and to make money. And a little bit because working is often easier than dealing with actual life.
We had a good day, and I felt genuinely happy standing in the cold water with the sun on my back, watching my kids dig holes in the sand. But Selah kept working hard at digging little lakes, and Asher took great joy in caving them in. Just to make her unhappy. And this, and their bickering about it made me momentarily unhappy. I managed to let them work it out for the most part.
Kids and Friends at Tahoe
Our friends have a cabin up there, and they invited us to join them there so that the kids could nap and so we could have dinner with them. We had a lovely, relaxing afternoon, especially when the boys were napping and Selah was watching TV.
But when both boys got up, they were a bit out of sorts, and so it got tiring trying to keep them from destroying the cabin. Asher wasn’t allowed to have dessert, and Selah decided not to have dessert, and then cried about not having dessert.
At Least One Person Was Eating Dinner
So by this time, an hour past their bedtimes and the point where I’m usually on my own, enjoying a glass of wine and some sort of silly television show or book, we are all tired. I am tired. And the kids are supposed to be settling down, but they are winding up. Selah and Asher, in the back row, are wiggling and squealing, and not exactly doing anything wrong except acting wired and nutso and loud. And Noah can’t fall asleep with them acting like they are ravers. Every time I get them to quiet down a little, one of them giggles, and then periodically, Noah exercises his lungs, releasing a huge holler of, “NOOOOOOOOOOO! Nooooo-OOOOOOO!” It is deafening, and nothing makes him stop–not talking to him, touching him, telling him no, or…
I try to ignore them all, and then I try yelling at them all, and then their dad yells at them all. We issue threats and warnings and requests, and we appeal to their rational side. Asher laughs while I’m doing this.
I hate Asher.
Noah screams, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
I hate Noah.
I think back over the past 7.5 years, and how few activities we have enjoyed, and how tiring everything is, and for a moment I question if I am different than other parents. I think about my friends hauling their kids all over, and how they don’t seem to hate each other. I think I’m probably screwing up my kids because I’m clearly not up to this parenting thing. I don’t even know what to do about the fact that Asher is outside of his routine now that school’s out, and he’s making everybody pay for it. Obviously whatever I am doing is not working. I like him so much so often, with the funny things that he says and how sweet he is, and then he hits babysitters and destroys Selah’s projects for fun, and purposely plays with things at Noah’s level so that he can throw a tantrum when Noah messes them up and then refuses to JUST. MOVE. THE. TOYS. TO. WHERE. NOAH. CAN’T. REACH. THEM.
And Selah has always been pretty well-behaved, except she’s exacerbating all of this by purposely rejecting him when he’s being nice, and then egging him on when he’s getting wound up, like tonight. She thinks I don’t notice that she is making smirky smiling faces at him while I’m scolding, with the hopes that he’ll laugh and get in trouble.
And doggone it, they are ruining Noah. Noah is screaming like this because, sometimes, Asher screams in the car. We don’t let it persist, we pull over and won’t drive if anyone is screaming. But Noah sees how fun and exhilarating it is to just bellow something at the top of your lungs in the car.
I’m tired. If I hadn’t had children, I would have spent my life wishing I had had children. I don’t even not want these three children. I do want them. I’m just tired. But it seems like there’s so little relief from the feeling of tired.
They are tired. They’re not even that bad. They are tired and wound up. How in the world can I overcome my own tiredness to adapt to theirs? How am I going to survive the summer? Why does everyone else like the summer so much? I think it’s because they either don’t work and so finally have family-wide free time, or because they do work, and their kids still aren’t out of their routines, because they are in child care. Mine are just free-range children, and I’m still trying to do a good job and pay the bills. But this feels out of my control, too.
I want control over this. I want to be such an amazing mom, and I want these darned kids to stop being human beings, stop being messy, and start being high-achieving, quiet automatons. I don’t want to have those moments where people look at me and think I’m not doing my job because my children are yelling. I think back to the era of children being seen and not heard, and I don’t understand how that was possible. How was that possible? In my weak moments, I want to achieve that. I want to drive back from Lake Tahoe and have them all fall asleep the minute the engine starts, and not use their ni-ni blankies to hit someone else in the eye.
I’m tired. But maybe I’m also fighting the wrong battle somehow.