Thursday, March 22, 2012


They may begin for different reasons, but they all pretty much follow the same pattern; flinging of oneself to the floor, kicking of feet and banging of fists, thrashing about of the head, inarticulate screaming, sobbing, and need for help to reach a mutually satisfying solution to the trigger problem.

 It’s embarrassing really, this lack of control. This anger so intense it annihilates all ability to function.  Yes I’m talking about temper tantrums, fits, meltdowns. No matter what the trigger, the end result can be terrifying for both the child and the parent. Yes, it is both awesome and frightening to behold, and what’s a child or husband to do when confronted with the ”Mommy Meltdown”?

It’s not as though a child can just walk away and leave Mommy screaming in the middle of Target. Well, they could, but it would probably just exacerbate the MM. It’s not as though a husband can just ignore his wife during her tantrum, because the screaming is probably directed at him. So what to do?

Having recently had a “Mommy Meltdown” (mine was mostly directed at DH), the only advice I have for husbands and children is to look contrite, agree with whatever Mommy says, and BY ALL THAT IS HOLY do not contradict her or tell her to calm down (this will likely set off another wave of screaming and possibly things being thrown).

What sets off the MM? Mine was being denied (AGAIN) any “time off” from the job I do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I think every person in the world (no matter how much they love their job) occasionally needs a day off to recharge their “battery”. I haven’t had any “time off” since before The Boy was born (he’s 3 ½ ). Being repeatedly promised my “time off” and then having it ripped away at the last minute through inconsiderate behavior by DH was the final nail in the coffin of my sanity.

I threw a fit at DH. I didn’t yell, but I did use a very firm, not sweet voice to express my displeasure and unhappiness with the “no time off for Mommy” policy that seems to have developed. He offered to completely skip some necessary yard work so I could have “an hour or so” off, if I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my time! He doesn’t get it, I want time to go do whatever strikes my fancy, no itinerary. To have some time without a phone call every 20 minutes asking where something is, and when I’m coming home. I also don’t want to come home to a bigger mess than I left behind just because he cannot manage to wash a dish while the kids are around! (His mother would come help with the kids, but he ”just can’t seem to get around to asking her”.) So, no real resolution was reached and the MM simmered.

The next day the MM boiled up at the girls as they bickered, were hateful, were defiant, and yelled. I explained to them that I had had it and they’d better shape up or Mommy would leave them with a babysitter (DH hates to hire them because then we have to pay them, he’s cheap) and they could be raised by Daddy. They didn’t care. Didn’t change their behavior one little bit. Way to show some love to Mommy.  
The MM is still simmering, ready to erupt again (a Spring Break during which it has rained non-stop is not helping), so DH had better get on the ball, and call someone to help him with the kids so I can have some “time off”. Because soon, the MM will no longer simmer, it will boil over and that is something NO ONE wants to see (especially not the cashiers at Target).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse Meal Planning

I’m sure this exchange happens in many houses every night; “Mom, what’s for dinner?” “We’re having delicious fluffy clouds of gastric delight.” “Aw Mom, I hate that!” I know it happens in my house. It’s not that my children are not what one typically considers a picky eater. They will eat most forms of protein (OCDIva gags on shrimp). They will consume any fruit (except Kiwi, the weirdoes, I love Kiwi). They readily consume vegetables (except for cauliflower which I also hate). They are also very fond of dairy and breads. So why is almost every dinner met with, “Yuck! I don’t want that!” “Ugh, I hate that!” “That’s so disgusting!”? I have no idea. It’s not as though I serve shrimp, Kiwi, and cauliflower at each meal.  (I think some of it is just defiance. Whatever the reason, I find it worrisome because I fear that will this type of food antipathy they will not survive the Zombie Apocalypse due to starvation.

I envision the Zombie Apocalypse being a test not only of our weaponry stockpiles, but also our food and beverage stockpiles. My house should be pretty easy to zombie proof (and like the average American raised by a Republican I am armed to the teeth), so I think the kids, DH, and I can just hole up in the house until the whole thing passes (plus we live in a residential area rife with the elderly, and you know what they say, you don’t have to be faster than the zombie, just faster than your slowest neighbor). But we will need to have a stockpile of food to eat until civilization is up and running again. Therein lies the problem.

What to feed four kids when running out to Kroger every day isn’t really an option? (I assume the zombies will enter Kroger in search of food and get lost amid the myriad aisles in search of the free samples purveyors and eventually die of starvation because you can never find those people.) I suppose that we could go with the theory that the kids will eat when they become hungry enough, but that will mean some pretty cranky kids until that moment arrives. Somehow I don’t think letting the kids eat Kiddy Crack (Pixie Stix) and cookies for the months it will take to be rid of zombies roaming the streets (and the aisles of Kroger), is going to cut it. Maybe some tried and true “Kid Favorites” will get us by if not keep up exactly the picture of health (note to self begin stockpiling pepperoni, sharp cheddar cheese, various crackers/chips, assorted canned fruits, and  vitamins).

I suppose there might be a benefit to the Zombie Apocalypse Meal Plan, after it’s over, the kids might not complain so much about what they are served for dinner. I would think a nice plate of shrimp scampi with veggies over linguini would be a nice change of pace after months of Vienna sausages and fruit cocktail, don’t you think?  Hmm, I wonder if Zombie Mothers ever get complaints from their kids about dinner, “Aw Mom! I don’t like lawyer’s brains, I like doctor’s brains!” 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lost In Translation

I think this has happened to every parent. You say something to your child, but what they hear is something completely different (as if you’ve suddenly begun speaking Urdu, or Swahili).

I say; “Snark Girl and OCDiva, please  complete your homework in a timely fashion.” 
Snark Girl hears; “Please twirl, dance, and sing for the next two hours and only do one page of your homework until I scream like a crazy woman, then rush through all of it in twenty minutes .”

Of course, you can repeat yourself (sometimes ad nauseum) and hope they listen, hear, and understand what you are saying, but a lot of the time they just don’t. At least this phenomena is sometimes entertaining when the child repeats back what they thought you said. (Yes I have had OCDiva’s hearing tested, repeatedly.)
I say; “OCDiva, please remove your dance bag from the pathway through the mudroom.”
OCDiva hears; “Please improve your chances at spoon dog buddies.” (Seriously, this is what she thought I said last night.)

I don’t know if it really is just that they do not listen, or that they don’t hear us. (I know, convenient hearing, it’s the official diagnosis of Snark Girl’s and OCDiva’s “hearing problems”. Really, it’s in the chart.)
I say; “Snark Girl, please take your shoes to your bedroom.”  (She’s only 10, but is already a shoe whore, for running shoes.)
She hears; Well, she hears nothing because when I repeat my request (in an increasingly loud and irritated tone, after the fourth time) she says; “Well I didn’t hear you! You don’t have to yell!” (Apparently, I do have to yell if she is unable to hear me. Of course no one living outside of this house has trouble hearing or understanding me when I speak. Well, except when I am reduced to inarticulate screaming by my children.)

Sometimes it may be that the child is too young to understand?
I say; “Hulkster. Do not take off your diaper.”
He hears; “Hulkie baby, please take off your diaper and poop on the living room floor and then walk in it and track it over most of the main floor of the house.” (I’m halfway willing to believe he doesn’t understand me, but when I ask where my phone is, or for someone to bring me a Clorox wipe, he retrieves them and brings them to me. I think he understands more than he lets on. Sneaky.)

Perhaps the child is just in a “terrible” phase (twos, threes, childhood) and therefore thinks it’s FUN to defy you (and see the veins in your forehead pop out)?
I say; “The Boy! Do not bite! No! No bite!”
He hears; “The Boy, my baby love, please go bite Hulkster hard enough to leave a bruise for a week.” (Of course, The Boy, does this while smiling angelically and looking to make sure I see him but am too far away to prevent it.)

Believe me, I’ve heard all of the advice; “Speak to them in terms they understand,” (okay, but I’m pretty sure repeated threats of all manner of awful things is just going to up those therapy bills later in life). “Allow them to complete the task their own way,” (uhm, no. The dishes must be in the cupboard, the toilet must not be cleaned with their sibling’s toothbrush). “Don’t raise your voice,” (remember, they cannot HEAR ME IF I DON’T YELL). “Children should just get to be children free of rules and responsibilities,” (sure, let me know how that works out when they take over a moderately sized company using only a Knork and a Smartphone and declare themselves “Dictator for Life”).

I really don’t know who to blame, (I suspect DNA may be partly responsible because Darling Husband’s listening/hearing skills are iffy at best), or how to solve the problem (short of putting one of those eel thingys in their ear like Khan did to Chekov to make him comply). I’m probably just stuck with the repeating, yelling, threatening, bribing, and sighing. But if you someday hear of young woman with a penchant for running shoes and hoodies becoming “Dictator for Life” somewhere in the world,  you’ll know I gave in!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Filling & Emptying Buckets

Recently, OCDiva's teacher read a story to the class called, “How Full Is Your Bucket?”. The basic premise was that we each go around with an invisible bucket, when we say/do good things to or for someone else, we are “filling their bucket” and our own "bucket". But when we are negative or unkind, we are “dipping” or emptying the “buckets”. It was meant as a lesson on bullying and how we should lift people up, not tear them down. It made me start thinking about how sometimes someone says something that might not seem like a big deal, but it bothers us. We dwell on it and become more upset as the day goes on. The comment could be from anyone about anything.

Maybe it was your Darling Husband, “Honey, I’m glad you found the time to color your hair.” (Is he trying to say I look old?)

Maybe it was one of your kids, “Mom, it’s so great when you actually make dinner.” (Will they turn into substance abusers because I made Bertolli Pasta instead of spaghetti sauce from scratch?)

Maybe it was an Aunt, “It’s so nice that you were able to hire a sitter so you can go to a spa.” (Does she think I’m neglecting my kids?)

Maybe it was a friend, “Oh, I guess you’ve just been too busy to clean this month (as they survey your messy living room when they stop in unexpectedly).” (What do they mean “this month”; my kids can achieve this level of destruction before lunch?)

Maybe it was an overheard stranger, “Uggs are so ugly!” (Didn’t they notice I am wearing Uggs?)

Maybe it was a celebrity fashion stylist, “It’s so sloppy when people wear workout clothing every day, especially when they never work out.” (But they're comfortable, doesn’t carrying $500 worth of groceries in the house and putting it all away count as a workout?)

I always wondered why we sometimes dwell on comments like those. Some are innocuous, some are not. After hearing about the story OCDiva's teacher read and the “bucket filling” exercise the class engaged in after the story, I think I know "why". Comments like that make a "dip" in our “buckets”.  Too many "dips", and eventually your “bucket” is empty, and no matter how much self esteem you have, it's hard to feel good when your "bucket" is empty. 

I am going to challenge myself to try to fill the “buckets” of those around me every day, which will in turn fill my “bucket”.  

So who emptied your “bucket” today? What are you going to do to fill someone else’s “bucket”?

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Runaway

Running away from home. I’m sure we all threatened it at least once as children. I know I said it to my parents more than once . (Of course, I couldn’t run far because I wasn’t allowed to cross the street by myself.)                                                
Occasionally in the news I hear about a woman that disappeared. I don’t mean the women that suffer a blow to the head from a falling tower of garden hoses at Walmart and just wander off. I’m not talking about women who are being abused and leave to escape from that abuse (instead of doing a burning bed kind of thing). I don’t refer to the women that have (God forbid) been abducted by a serial killer or met some other grisly end.  No, I mean the women that one day lock up their house and just walk away from their (seemingly) wonderful life.

You know who I mean. The woman that has a nice house, nice (or at least not piece of shit) car, nice children, and a nice husband. The woman that volunteers at school, at church, and in the community. The woman that can be called upon to bake two dozen cupcakes at a moment’s notice. The woman that is willing to pick up a friend’s kids because the friend is stuck in line at Kroger. The woman that is always happy to help everyone else. In short, the woman that is probably each of us (at least in some way).

I always wonder what the final thing was that made them leave, the straw that broke the Mommy’s back, so to speak.  Was it the 50,343rd pair of dirty underwear they picked up off of the living room floor? Was it the water a child sprayed all over the kitchen that their husband promised to clean up but didn’t? Was it the 35th time they tried to pay at Kroger ( with two cranky toddlers in tow) only to find their wallet missing after a child took it out of their purse looking for money for library fines? Was it the sight of the umpteenth unrinsed bowl? Was it the requested spaghettios lunch being thrown to the floor and different food demanded? Was it the millionth time she tried to poop alone, only to be disturbed by a child asking her to, well, do anything? Was it the 500,000,000th load of laundry? Was it picking up the thrown (and leaking) sippy cup or pacifier ONE MORE TIME? Was it in fact none of those things? Was it really just that she wanted more than two minutes alone to do something for herself other than maintaining basic bodily functions?

I don’t know what it was for those women. Because for the few that come back, even if they are asked why they left and where they went, they are not allowed to answer publicly to Matt, Ann, Kathie Lee, or any of the other morning show talking heads. No, they are whisked away to “be evaluated” and “rest”. As if running away automatically means they were crazy! I think they are not allowed to answer publicly because their answers might prompt a rash of women vanishing for a few weeks to hang out in a luxury hotel and “spoil” themselves by NOT watching hours of cartoons every day, and sleeping all they want.

Today is one of those days I would like to run away from home. Of course, if I ran away I would miss the kids (and eventually DH) terribly. So, I’m not running away, yet. But who knows, one more wet towel to pick up off the floor and you might see my photo on the news with the caption “Disappeared.” Don’t worry though, the 5 star hotel will be lovely and I’ll think of you fondly while I’m having a mani-pedi and sipping cocktails poolside. So, what would YOU say to the morning crew if you ran away from home? (Assuming you returned.)