Willow is in bed next to me, putting her cold feet on my feet and legs to warm them up. She wants to know when soccer starts (when you are in kindergarten) and if she’ll be on the black, red, or yellow team. She’s worried about learning the tricks before the season starts. She is yawning and telling me about playing soccer today at preschool with a boy in her class. She’s talking about how much she’s going to miss preschool; she’s planning her birthday party (next February), and tossing about under the quilt. I can tell she’s about to drift off, because there are longer pauses in between her sentences and her breathing is getting heavier. She’s starting to mumble and let her sentences drift off, unfinished. I love sitting with her and listening to her wind down.
The other kids are up late, watching Young Frankenstein and picking at the left overs of their burritos (pork chow mein if you are Nathan). Earlier they were giggling and singing with Teri Garr roll in ze hay! roll in ze hay! They know it’s funny, but they don’t know exactly why. I wonder if they think it’s the accent plus the cleavage. Now Willow is snoring a little bit, and I barely hear the rest of them singing Puttin on the Ritz.
Tonight we took the RC airplane that I bought for Nathan and tried to fly it at the field by our house. After all his waiting: for the package to arrive, the batteries to charge, the wind to chill out some, the field to be not packed with kids, an adult with the time to take him there — the plane had a crappy motor and didn’t really fly at all. Definitely not what we had hoped. And, at first he was fine, but as time went by and we could tell that it wasn’t how we were launching it or holding the controller or anything else, he got upset. And, even though I totally don’t blame him, didn’t blame him, actually wanted my thirty bux back, I lectured him. I told him that if he wanted any chance of me helping him to find an RC plane that worked, then he had to not whine and stomp and freak out and could he JUST PLEASE enjoy the fact that it sort of flies and goes a little bit and at least we’re out here having some fun before the sun goes down.
Nice, huh? I remember a long time ago, when I was staying home with the boys and my first husband worked full-time. They were so little and so active and my days were really long. I loved being home with them, and it also is exhausting to be in charge of a baby and a toddler all day long. I remember that when he came home at night if he was short with the kids I would think that he didn’t have the right to be. That I was the one who’d been testing the limits of my patience all day, and that when he’d only been home for ten minutes there was no excuse for him to not roll with things and be fun and in a good mood.
Now I work full-time and holy hell is the shoe on the other foot. I sit in a quiet office all day, pretty much just left alone to do my work. Then, I get in my car and spend 45 minutes to an hour driving home. Sometimes I talk on the phone all. the. way. home. Other times I listen to The Sound of Young America (oooooh! in Santa Cruz this month — must attend!) or This American Life podcasts. Or, I crank up the PJ Harvey and Kristin Hersh and sing myself hoarse and get weird looks from people. (Like I even care, and also? we all see you picking your nose.) And you’d THINK that after all that quiet, and all that alone time in the car, you’d THINK that I’d get home and be nothing but sweetness, light and unicornish nice to the kids. I’m not. I’m a humongous betch. I am short-tempered and snappish and impatient. Because they are LOUD, and they pull on my sleeves and wipe dirty faces on my pants. They all rush at me and start recounting arguments in excruciating detail. They list off the shitty parts of their day, demand that I inspect microscopic scrapes, and shove permission slips and forms to go to cheerleading camp (WTF?) at me when my hands are still full. They whine about supper and bicker and, like I said before, they are seriously LOUD. It’s a little hard to adjust to at the end of the day, and I am now sorry for all the expectations I had for others in the same position. I get it. Really.
People tell me that I am a patient mother. I know I can be. I feel like more and more lately I am not patient. Maybe that is okay in some ways. Maybe it’s not awful to tell your pouting, wanting-for-nothing (much) kid to suck it up and deal and save the whining for another time. I don’t know. It just makes me feel further away from them when I get so easily irritated. Like I used to be their mother, I used to be so kind.