Thursday, August 11, 2016

Failed It | Nailed It

In my final week of SAHM-hood, I was ready to go all out.

My version of all out: Fun, enriching, educational activities! Baking and cooking meals from scratch! Keeping on top of all housework! Not raising my voice or threatening to take away privileges! It was going to be EPIC!

Eff that noise, you guys.

I slaved away over applesauce muffins (with secret ingredient! Pureed butternut squash!) and homemade macaroni and cheese (with same secret ingredient!).

While the muffins were baking, we went for a quick walk up to the corner of the block and back, just to get some fresh air. The girls chatted with neighbors and I felt like my exercise clothes were justified because: walking outside = exertion! But the day went downhill from there.

Lunch was a disaster. The muffins went over better than the mac & cheese. When Zuzu literally took a bit, optimistic bite and then spit it all out on her plate, I wanted to throw my own temper tantrum. She just ate her fruit and then politely said she was full. Coco barely ate any mac & cheese either, but I was NOT WILLING to let it go, so I packed it up and put it in the freezer for another day when they are super hungry.

After my roasting of squash and pureeing of squash and mixing of muffins and cooking of macaroni, the kitchen was basically wrecked, and since I was preoccupied with cooking and cleaning up, the girls were doing things like coloring their legs with a gold Sharpie that they dug out of my desk drawer, which they know they are not supposed to get into (good news though: Honest soap might not touch it, but there's nothing that chlorine won't remove!), begging to watch TV (even Coco, who doesn't really care about TV except for the occasional episode of Peppa Pig, has caught the fever from Zuzu and will join her chanting "Show! Show!"), and digging lip gloss out of my purse to smear all over their faces and, inexplicably, the back cover of Between the World and Me.

I emerged from the wreck of the kitchen (now tidied up) just in time to yell (and then apologize for yelling after Coco burst into tears) about the Sharpie, gently wipe the back of Coates's manifesto as well as their faces, and then carry a violently protesting Coco upstairs for nap. She went to sleep easily, but when I went back downstairs, the turning off of the TV (even with my clever use of the sleep timer) resulted in outrage and outrageous behavior. Also threats: "If you don't turn on my show again, I'm not your girl anymore."

I tried to engage Zuzu in the preschool workbook we've been going through this summer, as well as the ongoing process of writing her name (she can copy it just fine now, but writing it from memory appears to be impossible, which makes me crazy because it seems to be an issue of effort rather than ability, which reminds me of potty-training, which makes me back off because: There is literally nothing I can do.).

Usually, she enjoys work time, and we sit together at the dining room table, and sometimes I can even read or go back over syllabi during this time, but today it was just a battle. She wanted to skip ahead in the workbook. She wanted a different marker. She didn't want to do work. She was NOT going to write her name. She was a complete pill. So wretched. I'd pick something up, and she'd throw it down on the floor again. She kept asking to watch TV and threatening to stop loving me if I didn't let her. I told her she'd lost the privileges of all shows for the day and she was going to have more consequences if she didn't stop being so nasty.

Coco got up from her nap and they had a relatively pleasant snack of muffins and milk (trying to salvage my efforts in the kitchen) and then I decided to take them to the park for the double benefit of fresh air and not trashing the house, and park time was fine. Coco's been napping later in the day, so by the time we got home it was time for dinner. I thought the muffins would buy me some time, but it was HANGRY time and I was the whipping boy.

I decided the best option was to whip up the no-fail solution of scrambled eggs. After all, they are farm-fresh from our backyard and the girls love them. Coco had finished her raspberries and crescent roll and had probably eaten two-thirds of her eggs when she accidentally dumped the whole plate on the floor. Cooper finished her meal, which was apparently the greatest tragedy of her life so far. I was paralyzed for a moment, trying to decide whether it was worth scrambling her another egg (I'd already washed and put away the pan!) when she was really almost finished anyway and she has an annoying habit of finishing her food, asking for more, and then not touching her second helping.

As I tried to settle the screeching Coco, retrieve her scattered plate and fork, and get Cooper out of the kitchen (after letting him clean up the eggs), Zuzu said, in her MOST irritating, sassy, and demanding tone, "Mommy! Milk!" and then waggled her empty milk cup at me.

I yelled.

One of those ironic moments when I'm saying things like, "You cannot just DEMAND things and talk to me in that tone of voice. Can you not see that my hands are busy trying to clean up this mess? You need to ask for things NICELY!" while I'm talking in precisely the kind of tone and at the volume level that I'm telling her is inappropriate.

This made Zuzu cry, which was shocking because she NEVER cries and just goes to show how tired she was.

Of course, it also made me feel TERRIBLE.

Then Coco was sympathy crying. Total fail. 

I solved the Coco problem by giving her a spoonful of the small portion of eggs still sitting on Zuzu's plate, then followed Zuzu into the other room to apologize. She said, "Mommy, I want you to never do that again." (Hard to promise that, kid, but I'm trying.)

By that time, it was about 6:00pm, which meant only one thing: bathtime and bedtime. I was just over the entire day.

The girls took a leisurely bubble bath (lavender-scented bubble bath is really the BEST) and I kept the lights off in the bathroom because there was enough daylight (you know, since it was only 6pm), so it was very soothing.

After bath, we snuggled up in the rocking chair in Coco's room and they took turns choosing books to read and I read everything they wanted, even Rudolph.

Usually if I'm home alone at bedtime, I let Zuzu watch an episode of Sesame Street while I put Coco to bed, but she'd lost all TV privileges so I told her she could go to my room and look at books or she could rock with us. She put up a single cry of protest, "I want Sesame Street!" and then she laid her head down on the arm of the chair and fell asleep instantly.

Coco took longer to doze off, but I just sat there and rocked with both of them for about half hour. It was a sweet, peaceful end to an overall unpleasant day. I vowed that I would have more fun tomorrow.

And so the next day, we went to Target and Trader Joe's in the morning and then we went OUT to lunch and then I read my book on the couch while letting Zuzu watch a show and after Cooc's nap we went to the pool, and when we got home I threw together an easy dinner and opened a bottle of wine and the whole day was much more pleasant.

I wish there were a moral to this story. I don't know what makes some days so much easier than others. I guess I can just be glad that I've had some of both this last week so that I can be both glad to be going back to work and nostalgic about what a great summer we've had.


  1. I love their matching rainbow shirts! Where did you get those?

    Our days usually go better when I have very low expectations, both for the kids and myself. Yesterday, I dragged them out to buy ingredients to make homemade giant bubbles. And the bubbles were cool, but of course fighting broke out because each of them wanted to get to pop every bubble. And the homemade soap required corn syrup, so we were a total mess by the end. I think the whole thing kept them occupied 30 minutes. Today, we went to the park, and they were totally happy to run around there for two hours even though I was afraid we would all get heatstroke (Expected high: 104 degrees).

    I think Pinterest and Instagram can set us up with crazy expectations. You're doing fine!

  2. Home cooking is overrated I think... because all that effort, the kids don't appreciate it, so much mess, so much stress... the kids pick up on the stress and everything just goes to hell!

  3. I'm impressed you had already cleaned and put away the pan before the kids were done eating! David is wearing off on you!

  4. I feel like I could have written these exact words (if I still blogged!). Each day I have ideas about something ends of exploding in my face... The ones where I have zero expectations are unproductive, but calm. so hard. I keep telling myself it's their ages, but it makes me feel like I am not a good enough mother when I yell. and I yell a lot more than I am comfortable with. being a mama is hard.

  5. It's barely 9 a.m. and I am having that day. B has already lost all screen time today. I was planning to take them to a movie this morning and now we lost all movies so I have no plans and UGH. Is it bedtime yet? Preschool tomorrow. PRAISE THE PRESCHOOL GODS.

  6. There is a moral, if you ask me - that we all go through this. And I needed to read this post today, because I yelled and was mean this weekend and feel horrible about it. I HATE myself when I act like that. We all fail. And we're all trying.