Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
“Mommy. Mama. Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mama.”
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
“I don’t wanna do my homework. This math is so easy, it’s stupid! I am not doing it! You’re so mean to make me. You hate me! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.”
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
I stood with my back to the Crunch Monster, Broken Record, and Wailer—my three kids—and tried to breathe through the urge to run screaming from the house, or at the very least tell them what I was thinking, which was exactly, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT THE HELL UP!” No, I wouldn’t, couldn’t SAY it, but I was thinking it and have been a lot for the last few days.
The other night, I sat on the edge of the bed counting the minutes, the seconds, until quiet would envelope the boisterous voices; until nothingness would conquer the grabbing, clinging arms and legs that crawled over me. I tried to remind myself that this was fun. The littles were in heaven, giggling and coming back for more, more, more. I should have been reveling in their joy, catching my breath from the contagion of their laughter, but all I could think was, “Get OFF me, and be quiet!” Luckily, I again kept my thoughts where they belonged—bouncing inside my brain—and played along as the kids and I tickled and wrestled before bed.
In both of these instances my short fuse didn’t stem from wanting to reach the finish line of a long day. I wasn’t sick or grumpy from a lack of sleep or alone time. I had filled my tank of both. This annoyance is bigger than that. I feel it with my kids, my husband, the dogs, my own skin, my clothes on my skin. It simmers for a few days and finally reaches a boiling point. It happens pretty regularly, for a few days every month. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.
In the last year or two, I have gone from suffering from slight irritation to full-blown, rip-your-head off aggravation and anger before that oh-so-wonderful time of the month. I’m quite sure it has everything to do with turning 40 last year, and not that I’ve been cursed with a super power that intensifies the sound of my children breathing and chewing to the point that I am compelled to plug my ears or bellow like a madwoman. No, pretty sure it’s hormonal.
It’s all of their noises that irk me: breathing, chewing, talking, crying, whining, laughing, walking, doors shutting, electronics blaring. The dogs panting and clicking their nails on the hardwood as they stalk me through the house. My husband’s electric razor that has to run for at least 20 minutes every day, while he warms up his shower and pads our water bill. That’s followed by his gagging as he brushes his teeth. I’m talking full-blown, he’s going to make me throw up two rooms away, gagging. This bothers me on a regular basis, but with my heightened senses, Oh Nellie!
All of their actions are amplified, too. Take for example, the simple task of getting a snack. Normally, not such a big deal: They messily find food and eat it. And, I can deal with it, redirect them, keep things in perspective. With my monthly powers, however, I zero-in on their grimy hands wrangling through the pantry, leaving the door and all of the containers they rummaged through wide open; dumping said snack into a bowl (after being admonished for NOT doing it), only to shove the food into their mouths by the handful. Then they start talking, crumbs spilling out all over themselves and the floor. Trampling over the bits of food, smashing them and leaving a trail, they maneuver to the couch, littering it with crumbs. Why not simply pour the snack onto the couch and roll over it, heathens?! The cycle repeats with multiple visits to the pantry for more snacks. Not the healthy fruit, veggies, yogurts, and cheese in the fridge; no the junk in the pantry. More, more, more. My mind swirls with madness; we have rules about all of this people! Not to mention we are humans, not farm animals.
Then there’s the way they stare glassy eyed, seduced by the screens of their iPads, deaf to the living, moving, breathing world around them. It kills me. I want to snatch the iPads and stomp on them, gleefully shattering them to pieces. The hanging on to me for just a second too long, not listening the first time, squabbling, and silliness make my head spin. Then, there’s the incessant “Mommy” call, which is trumped when I answer harshly, only to hear a soft, “I love you.” Ugh, I am a bitch.
They can’t find anything on their own whether it is right in front of their eyes or behind the one little box that actually needs to be moved to reveal the desired item. They pee all over the toilet seat, the floor, and sometimes the walls. What the?!? No need to clean that up. Heck, they don’t even flush the toilet. Speaking of toilets, their jokes are all about farts and poop, vomit, and their nuts (even my 4-year-old daughter thinks she has nuts). Who are these people? Where are they learning this stuff?
Don’t get me started on the crying over the things that have been our norm for months or even years: bedtime routine, afterschool routine, morning routine. No TV before school and absolutely no video games. Yes, you need to do your homework before you can play. No you can’t have another dessert.
Why? Why don’t they get it? Why do they have to chew so loudly? I hear myself seething, “Sit up at the table, sit with your legs under the table. Take a bite smaller than the size of your mouth. Use utensils and your napkin. No, do NOT use your napkin as a utensil. Don’t spill the milk. Chew with your lips together. Don’t tease your brother or sister. Clean up your toys. Don’t cry because I’m throwing away this broken, flimsy plastic, unrecognizable thing we got from a drive-thru two years ago. It is not your favorite toy!” It goes on…
And then there’s my husband, whom I love dearly, but who STILL doesn’t get that watching ”Finding Bigfoot” does not turn me on. Or that right now, anything he tried would simply NOT work. Do NOT touch me, please. It really is not you, it’s ME! I can’t even stand the feeling of my clothes. I feel constrained, and my skin is itchy, and just get away from me.
Sometimes, in the thick of all the heightened emotions and annoyances it is tough to find the everyday bliss. Wine, dark chocolate almonds, and mochas don’t even do the trick. As my sister put it, it’s a “paralysis of joy” because you can’t get past the noise that clouds our ordinarily rational, optimistic thinking or at least our ability to calmly deal. Yet we do get through it, usually with no harm or foul, except maybe an unwarranted snarl or snap here or there.
Come to think of it, maybe, ladies, that is our super power—to endure the three or so days of intensified EVERYTHING? To be challenged at all times by the touches, sounds, requests and needs of everyone and to still carry on? To steadfastly provide hugs, attention, love, mothering, and “wifing” even though all we want to do is check into a 5-star resort anywhere in the world and be alone, away from the drama and demands and ALL of it. Wouldn’t that be amazing? A monthly reward to go with the madness? After a few days, of course we would want to come home to all of our people. We would miss them, and want their cuddles, stories, and maybe even an episode of “Finding Bigfoot” (wink, wink).
But, then again, maybe the reward is that my littles, dogs, and husband all still love me after these few days of snippiness, impatience, higher expectations, and all-around bitchiness? Ah, not paralyzed after all—I just found the joy amid all of my craziness: unconditional love that goes both ways.