not in the now

must enjoy them now
drama just makes good stories
for when they are old

I find that lately I’ve been getting really caught up in being irritated by my children. It’s not really something I’m proud to admit, but it’s true. I spend all day feeling like they are purposely trying to turn me into Crazy McNutbar, and so I spend all day hollering at them to stop doing whatever they’re doing, which makes me seem like Crazy McNutbar, and then by the end of the day they’ve ramped up the irritating things they’re doing just to get a rise out of me and so by the transitive property I have BECOME CRAZY MCNUTBAR, the nemesis of Supermom and also the causer of binge eating caramel-infused Drumstick ice cream cones.

Of course, by the time they are both asleep I feel cascading waves of guilt for my behavior. I feel like I need to crawl into bed with the wee one and whisper apologies as he sleeps. "Mommy is sorry she doesn’t know what kind of ship Darth Maul has and that she rudely dismissed your question while she checked her email. Mommy is also sorry she got so mad at your sister she slammed the door with such force that the doorjamb cracked."

I try to tell him these things when he’s awake, but I am inevitably interrupted by a falling glass of orange juice or a dog being fed handfuls of sand, or a poopy diaper, or a toddler trying to rip out my jugular.

Why is it so hard to remove myself from the daily trials and just enjoy the kids for who they are? Why can’t I shake off the screaming and whining and be the kind of mom who distracts them with homemade volcanoes and from-scratch sugar cookies?

There is this nagging feeling that I am not spending enough time with either of the kids, even though I spend ALL of my time with them. I feel like I am not present. And to make it worse, I have this gut-feeling psychic intuition thing that not only am I not spending enough time with the wee one, I need to start doing it RIGHT NOW before he is lost to me forever. Or something. The gut feeling doesn’t tell me what the consequences will be. It just tells me that if I don’t start reading more to him and spending time with him in the evenings, something not excellent is going to be the result. And so I am wracked with worry about what this gut feeling really means and what it is all about.

I don’t know what the answers are to any of these questions. I don’t know how to fix any of it. Because when it’s happening – when I’m in the middle of the moment where the wee-er one is jumping on my stomach and pulling my hair and the wee one is asking what-if questions about the house turning into a rocket and blasting into space and hitting the sun – I can’t think to calm down and enjoy it. I just want everyone off of me and away from me and to quiet down and leave me alone.

I know other mothers feel this way, but it’s still kind of isolating to be driven crazy by your spawn. You know what I mean?

Also, Crazy McNutbar sounds like a candy bar I must have right. now.

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9 thoughts on “not in the now

  1. Everything you have said here applies to me too. Captain Underpants just doesn’t get the concept of money, or that you’re talking to soneone else already, or that both hands full means no extra hands.
    Small one, aka Destuctor, is just removing all my will to live and dignity to leave nought but a shabby, run-down husk.
    I wish I didn’t have to scream ‘NOOO!!!’ fifty times a day. Why does life have to be so hard, when we should be cherishing these little bundles of wonder that nature has blessed us with?
    If they stopped for just one day would it make a difference to me though? Probably not, as I would have slept through the quiet without a second thought. It doesn’t help that there seems to be a 35y.o. teenager on the house not backing me up either.
    Grit your teeth, only another decade and a half before you can kick them out………

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  2. holy sheeeeet, i so totally hear this. i hit these moments after she’s gone to sleep where i think “good lord, woman, why are you not playing playing playing and happy happy happy every moment of the day and savoring it all and encouraging as much joy as you can and whatnot” and then come the next day i am, once again, out of my skull tired and grumpy and holy shit what i wouldn’t do for a delicious crazy mcnutbar right about now…

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  3. Just last night around midnight I crawled into bed with my 8 year old because I looked back on the day of not being patient with him and not answering his 8 million questions and generally being short and snippy with him. I actually woke him up just to make sure he knew I was there snuggling with him. Because, shit, if I am going to try to make amends, he needs to give me credit, right?

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  4. Are you actually living your whole existence inside my head? What you wrote is exactly my life most of the time. The short bursts of now-ness are not enough to feel like I’m doing enough. What blows my mind is how fast I can go from weeping guilt right back to the edge of…the edge. I love them so much, labor over so many decisions, read so many books about them. Just don’t ask me to spend extended focused time with them. I can only carry that intensity over into real life for a few minutes at a time. Thanks for putting this out there, Kari.

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  5. Lately it’s felt like everything out of my mouth is “no” or “please stop” when it comes to parenting. It drives me crazy to find myself so irritable with my boy when in my head I think I should be gaga happy and just living in the moment. But the moment often includes digging stuff out of the trash, trying to climb into the fire place, and banging his head against the window. Nice to know I’m not the only one swinging at the end of my rope most days.

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  6. Thanks, Kari, for writing what I feel. And I’m not even a stay-at-home mommy. I work full time, so the guilt of not spending time with my kids is tripled by the fact that our moments together are already so abbreviated, and I STILL get super irritated by their behavior. I am constantly torn between trying to live in the moment yet not strangle my kids for driving me up the wall. I’m glad to hear that we are ALL in that boat. It really does provide solace.

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  7. I have one more year at home with the kids before I go out to get a full time job again and feel like I am coming out of the tunnel you describe. It finally feels better now that mine are 4 and 8, but it has been a few years of crazy mommy, much like you have described. You have made a statement that no one wants to make and yet we all have these feelings! Thank you for writing this and reminding us that we are not alone.

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