Mom’s Code Chronicles #4: A Mom’s Nice Jar
Written by Eileen Wacker ©
By the end of each day, my nice jar is empty. I’m a married, working mom with four kids and two dogs. I start each day optimistically and swear I won’t get angry or yell. After all, I have a good life. I have problems but it could be worse. One of my issues is our puppy, Chewie, who is an adorable 7-month-old wallpaper-licking, throw pillow chewing, and undisciplined terror. But I have a confession to make. It’s not him I get the angriest at.
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I get angriest at the people I love the most. At the end of the day, when my nice jar is depleted, I end up yelling at, nagging, or criticizing the people who are the most precious to me. I could defend myself by explaining that it’s never without provocation. And I might not yell as much as I think. Since no one else is admitting they end up yelling at their kids a lot, I’m not sure where I stand as a yelling mom. I hear a lot of moms claiming they slow down for a second, take a deep breath and remember the love. They hug it out. A lot of non-yellers in the crowd. Why aren’t we more honest?
People who write parenting articles know they will never get an award for being a good parent if she/he is really honest. Because it’s a mess out there.
As soon as I leave work, I push it out of my head. But it doesn’t work that way with my kids. They are always with me. I carry them around in my thoughts and when they face real challenges, it pulls at my soul until things are resolved.
I let a thousand things slide over the course of the day and then one random comment, excuse, tone or action will send me over the edge and the person in front of me will be yelled at.
Today, I somehow played a role in everything that has gone horribly wrong for my tween and teens. My youngest daughter forgot her school ID and couldn’t get lunch. She said, “It was a terrible lunch anyway but that’s not the point. My ID was in my jeans and you washed them.” My other daughter was talking at me, describing all the injustices such as unfair teachers, friends who acted disloyally, rain on her new shoes, and lost Lululemon pants. My teenage daughter is really a sweetheart. She doesn’t rant very often so I’m surprised at how good she is at it. Like champion level good. Then she looked at a text on her phone, searched for something on Vine and Instagram, and walked away, cracking up.
I cook as many dinners as I can. I’m not a bad cook, but because I run through my day most times, the supermarket stop is squeezed in and I grab items that are in my path. Then I’m surprised when I don’t have the right ingredients for the Crockpot recipe and it’s too late to start a Crockpot dinner at seven o’clock. Who are these Crockpot whizzes anyway? I’ll bet it’s the Crockpot moms who never yell at their kids. And they probably cooked a healthy salmon stew in it and their kids eat it. My goal is one out of four likes what I made for dinner. I’m not asking my kids to post what I make on Instagram as a work of art, something that should be admired perhaps, but not eaten. But that’s not why they don’t eat it. Tonight I hear, “I’m not hungry;” “I already ate;” “I don’t like that;” and “I’m a vegetarian this week.”
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It takes a lot out of me to remain effortlessly cheery and I’m starting to feel the weariness from my day creep in. Plus I’m hungry and on a diet, smelling the food they do not really want to eat. It is so ironic to me that I’m on a diet to stay the way I am. I just don’t want to lose any more ground. And with babies and age, not losing ground is a massive challenge.
They all take the perfunctory few bites. They stream out of the kitchen, dumping their dirty plates and glasses in the sink, ignoring the pots and pans that need to be washed. A sensation washes over me like a wave. I tell myself, “They are not happiness hijackers. They are children.” But it’s too much. I yell, “All of you come back here and help. I’m not your servant! Drives me crazy! And put your phones away!” They file back in, looking like sorry bunnies and put their dishes into the dishwasher. I send them up for homework and showers. I pour a glass of wine and grow reflective.
As I clean the kitchen, I focus on how I did with the goals I set for today. My nice jar is empty and the angry horse is out of the barn. But it doesn’t mean I want it to stampeded the bunnies. I’m sure I accomplished something and this will bring me back to nice, fun mommy.
1) Pee alone once and that means no one talking to me through the door or yelling, “Mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM, MOM!” Okay, didn’t happen.
2) Finish my morning coffee in the morning. No, didn’t happen.
3) Drop my kids at school before 7 am so I can get in an early hike with my friends and still get to work on time. I multitask, combining them, as I don’t have time for both separately. Done.
4) Get one thing off of my massive work to-do list. Done.
5) Send a text full of heart Emogis to my husband. Done. But he texted me back—I’m either very intrigued or afraid I missed something
6) Watch one child do something they love (piano, practice, sports game, art, or whatever). So they feel my support and connection. Done.
This cheers me up immensely and my inner voice says, “It’s all a matter of perspective.” I remind myself that the glass of wine and my husband changing out the burned out light bulbs, helps too. Then my littlest daughter asks me to be in a heart Emogi texting contest. I say, “You better bring it. I practiced on Daddy today.” And then my other kids want to be in the contest, each swearing they have the fastest thumbs. I stop and savor the moment as I feel my nice jar being filled back up again, their happiness and affection leaking in. I know I can do it all again tomorrow, as it will be filled with much of the same. Wash, rinse, dry, fold, repeat. And repeat. And repeat.