A Helluva Day

crying kids
Meltdown City

It’s Monday night and I’m trying to write a post about how my kids have finally become friends (I will – I promise). But it’s been a helluva day and I’m in full recovery mode. Since the kids were so enjoyable last week, I got tricked into forgetting it goes in phases. My next post will be full of light and love and fluffy prose. Tonight all I have is the raw truth of being broken by motherhood.

By 7:00 am, I had ruined Addie’s life by adding yogurt to cool down her oatmeal, and Owen’s by not holding his 30 pound self while I juggled breakfast, lunches, water bottles, baby bottles, COFFEE. He bit me and smacked my face while Addie threw her rejected breakfast on the floor, shrieking when the dog then ate it. I took deep breaths and kept them moving through the morning routine.

At 8:00 am the kids were lined up by the door. The daily car issues began: one won’t let me open the garage until she’s seated and buckled, one wants to climb in himself but can’t. Addie’s car seat has been temperamental. I fixed it, she wailed on the floor of the garage “don’t have a car seat issue, Mama!” Owen fussed because she was.

After dropping Addie off at preschool, the morning passed: we picked up J-Baby, went to gymnastics, fed everyone. Owen is entering the terrible two’s and has unpredictable tantrums, but quick recoveries. The dog was feisty – barking outside and pestering inside. Minor annoyances. I saved my energy for what was coming next.

12:00 school pickup required a ten minute conversation with the teacher about Addie’s day: defiance, throwing sand, climbing on tables, running away and hiding. Meanwhile, my kids disappeared into a sea of preschoolers, many of them swarming me to grab the baby. Addie ran away again once we got outside, and didn’t earn her fruit snacks; the behavior at school meant she didn’t earn her quarter. The 6-minute drive home, filled with sobs over lost chances, felt endless. I wracked my brain for ways to salvage the day.

12:30 began the naptime rush. Owen and the baby went down easy-peasy; Addie did not. Bribery failed. Consequences failed. Lying down with her failed. The battle ended with destruction of property, kicking of doors and waking up of both boys. All three stared at me, their little faces red from exhaustion and crying. It was 2:00 pm.

My mind raced through hundreds of parenting tips to deescalate: whispering, granting fantasy wishes, asking them how to solve the problems. I gave them homemade calm bottles, to watch glitter float through colored water while they cooled off. They threw them at me. I tried empathetic limits, rewards, 1-2-3 or consequence. I tried humor: asking if they had lost their strong voices, if they needed their hug tanks refilled. I tried distraction with movies (they couldn’t agree), snacks (all unacceptable), toys (used to hit each other). Nothing worked. These kids were fully committed to mischief, mayhem, and meltdowns.

I tried to take deep breaths. I tried to choose love. But I’m an imperfect human with limits. I settled on staying as quiet as possible, for fear of yelling terrible things. The afternoon passed. No one recovered. J-Baby got picked up fussy and tired. My kids sobbed through peanut butter sandwiches and went to bed at 6:00 pm. Now here I am – beating myself up about all the things. Maybe Tuesday will be better; maybe the whole week will be a shitstorm. I’ll rally – moms are tough – but for now I’m too tired to do anything but wallow in defeat. This was a helluva day.

2 thoughts on “A Helluva Day

  1. Oh Caitlin, hoping Tuesday was a better day. Motherhood, in addition to being rewarding, sure can be draining. Love you and love your writing.


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