A few days ago I was standing outside my kids’ school, chatting with a grandma about the logistics of she and I getting our respective teenage boys to youth group. My Hermione of daughter walked up to our conversation, her arms holding a Trojan Wall constructed entirely of sugar cubes (which she got 100% on…of course) and said, “Mom, can we go now?”
To that I responded, a bit irked, “No, I’m talking.”
Apparently she misunderstood me the first time, because she went on to say, “But I’m tired. I don’t want to stand here anymore.”
To this I responded,
“Are you kidding? I’ve been up since 6am working and ran home to go over the floors because I can’t handle ADHD and tics and begging for after school snacks on top of a house that has more paw prints than a kennel I understand you’re tired, sweetie, so go wait in the car.”
Before she could start in again I turned on my heel and barked under my breath, “NOW.”
With that she set sulked off to the car while I finished my conversation.
After channeling my inner project manager to coordinate the simple task of getting sweet boys from Point A to Point B post dinner – but before the oh so important start of ga-ga ball (because who doesn’t think of Jesus when they see 30 boys thrown together in wooden circle?) I walked toward the car.
It was a cool fall day but I was boiling inside.My daughter… my sweet, Anne of Green Gables meets Laura Ingalls Wilder of a daughter… was truly morphing into a sullen tween.
She was acting entitled.
She was acting pouty.
And it was all my fault.
Who, but me, jumps through hoops to make sure kids get places on time and eat well?
Who, but me, is always considering “how they feeeeeeeeeel” over how I feel?
Lest you think I’m sounding like a martyr, I do things for my kids because I love them. But at the same time, letting them think that they are the center of the universe isn’t love. It’s enabling them. And more important than that too often thrown around buzz word, it’s hard as hell to live with under the same roof.
And that’s when I remembered a little mantra I used to live by when they were little. It was time to resurrect it. To use some of my sitcom writing skills from yore, let me paint you a little picture.
Int. Rolling Landfill of an SUV that smells like a cross between El Pollo Loco chicken legs and essential oil.
Cue Theme Music:
Mommy loves you Stink and Pip
But here’s for you a little tip
Your attitude, kids, need to go
Let’s tune in The Mommy Show
The Mommy Show! (ba ba bum ba bum) The Mommy Show! (ba bum bum bum) It’s exciting please stop fighting here we go (Here we go!)
No more talking no more squawking shut your pie hole no more balking
Let me say it one more time, The Mommy Show!
(ba da dum dum dum)
A tired mom sits in the front seat of the car. Her two hormone raging children sit in back. She turns to them, takes a deep breath, and slowly talks.
Mom: “Kids, I love you. I think you’re awesome. But it’s time for you to remember that, as much as your individual stories are important, this is, indeed, The Mommy Show.”
(The kids give blank stares. Eye rolls and sighs are optional.)
Mom: “I’m the main player. You are the supporting cast members. While your role in The Mommy Show script is very important, it wouldn’t exist without the main player. With that in mind, you will need to start taking a back seat to the main star so this production can run smoothly again.”
Man child: “Um, Mom, that sounds nuts. Besides, you are not the director.”
Mom: “Oooooooh, yes, my son. I am. You see, I am not only the main character in this show, I direct the shots AND I am the producer.”
Woman child: “The producer? What does that mean?”
Mom: “I produced you by having sex with your father. Producer Credits ARE MINE!”
Them: “EEEWWWWWW… too much! We’re going to walk off the set!”
Mom: “Go for it. Find some other set to live in. But you might be back to sharing a bedroom again and I can guarantee you that NO ONE makes a finer taco than me.”
Man child: “You’re the cook, too?”
Mom: “The technical term is Craft Service. And you, my friend, have just been hired onto the Clean Up Crew.”
Woman child: “I think we better stop talking about this now.”
And so they did.
And instead of feeling guilty or tyrannical, the tired mom just laughed to herself. And, well, it felt amazing.
And the kids did NOT live Happily Ever After because life isn’t about happiness all the time so they can suck it and be more well rounded adults in the future.
Until next time,
May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.