I should never label bad parents or bad people or bad behaviour because inevitably, within 24 hours of my judging someone, I end up acting out and wishing I could take it back.
I have changed thousands of diapers, been hooked up to a steeped tea IV drip, questioned whether I was rested enough to safely operate a tricycle on my driveway and have never lost my cool (in front of the kids) – until now.
This particular morning started like most mornings. I woke up early to make my oatmeal with almonds, walnuts, frozen blueberries and yogurt but not before checking the bowls for traces of Rapunzel bubble bath or small, plastic capsules that when immersed in water turn into giant dinosaur-shaped sponges. One of these days, our local hospital will have to perform the first ever sponge-animal-ectomy on my esophagus.
My four-year-old says, “Mommy, I really hate those shoes you bought me. Give them away.”
Me: “Good morning to you, too, Chloe.”
Chloe: “I hate those shoes, Mommy. Good morning.”
Then my 10-year-old, Hanna: “Hey, is 41 a prime number?”
It’s starting. They are five minutes early, deep breath. In through the nose and out through the mouth…
Ellie, age 8, enters, kitchen left: “Mommy, you absolutely didn’t wake me up when I asked. You absolutely were late. You were absolutely not waking me up on time.”
The word of the day appears to be ‘absolutely.’
Hanna: “19 isn’t a prime number, right? Is it?
Mom? 19? Hello?”
Chloe explains why she wouldn’t brush her teeth. “This toothbrush is NOT mine. It says C-R-A-Y-O-L-A and my name is C-H-L-O-E!” Then she tossed the toothbrush and it fell into the toilet.
I try to put my Mom cap on and look for something positive. At least she recognized the letters and really nailed the three-pointer from the stool-line. Nothin’ but bowl.
Then Ellie decides to get dressed in the bathroom so the other two have to stand outside pounding on the door, until one of them decides to just knock on the wall turning it into a hilarious return-the-knocking-pattern game while I stand scarfing my boiling hot bowl of oatmeal trying to remember what the hell a prime number is.
As the oatmeal-glue scalds my throat, (possibly being enveloped by a T-Rex sponge) I begin my search for a cheque for $82.50 for school pizza money, $7.00 exact cash for a recorder for Ellie (Great news! Another recorder is coming home!) and another form being tossed in my direction about a special pancake lunch, cash value, priceless.
Ellie: You have to order us this Mom. It comes with syrup.
Chloe hands me a permission slip to sign.
Me: “What is this form for?”
Chloe: “It’s for people who don’t work very hard to write their name on so you can walk our class to the community centre.”
I was then tasked with, “Mommy, do my hair with two braids on one side, no braids at the back, maybe a flower or something and a ponytail on one side and make it long. Make my hair really, really long.”
While in the process of making school lunches, discussing prime numbers, eating oatmeal, braiding hair and knocking three short knocks, then four, then seven, then three? Beep, you’re out! Ellie comes out with, “Mom, Hanna just spilled milk and it’s everywhere.”
I wish I could tell you I calmly turn around, take a deep breath and say, “OK, it’s no problem. Let’s get that crazy white stuff off the counter. Did it scare anyone? Does anyone need a hug?” But that’s not what I said or did.
I turned around with the pizza cheque pen in my mouth, spit it on the floor and said, “SHIIIIIIT!!!!!!!!!”
It scared the kids. It scared me. I’ve never done that. I didn’t know how to take it back.
The milk was forming a meniscus at the lip of the counter then triumphantly spilled over into my spice drawer. Milk tears start pouring down the cupboard doors, onto the floor, beside the stove into that area that never gets cleaned.
Chloe and Ellie were quick to say sorry, which was heartbreaking. They didn’t even spill the milk but they were upset at my reaction. Hanna just froze.
I felt terrible for swearing and for not being the best Mom I could be.
Chloe: “Wow Mom, you are really good at scaring people.” Absolutely.
Liz Hastings knows many words. Sadly she’s not proud of the one she chose here. When she’s not rinsing her mouth out with soap, or swearing over spilled milk, she’s blogging at teaandsnippets.com and driving her daughters to swim practice.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Nov/Dec 2016.