"And why do I have to REMIND him to put the eye medication on HIS dog...I don't even want a dog....I can't remember EVVVVVEERRRTHING..."
This was one of many ventilations pouring from my mouth as I sat on the big area rug, crying, hugely pregnant and feeling like my world was imploding. My house was a mess, my children were upstairs giggling and playing and having a grand old time, which ordinarily I would enjoy, but not in this particular moment because they were playing while they should have been doing chores, schoolwork and other such responsibilities that they KNEW they should be doing instead. It was a low moment. A husband-come-home-from-work-early moment. I was truly ashamed when he walked in, saw me crying and asked "What in the hell is going on???" To put it simply, I was broken. Tired of being pregnant, tired of being the social director and reminding my children every single minute of the day what they SHOULD be doing and tired of feeling like I was starring in the movie Groundhog Day while my children starred in 50 First Dates (Me repeating the same day over and over, them not seeming to remember ANYTHING from days past...bad combination)
So I cried, alone, while Jamie went upstairs to "talk" to the children. I only let myself wallow for the briefest of moments, and then regular Melissa was back. I grabbed a pen and some paper and began to list my complaints and woes, and next to each item was a possible fix. I often describe myself as solution-oriented, and today would be no different.
First I had to make the children really understand how their lack of responsibility was affecting me. I called everyone downstairs and made them sit on the rug I was bawling just a few minutes previously. I left the room to get a big tub of marbles we had from Jamie's senior design project (I knew they'd come in handy as something besides mock nuclear fuel.) I started with Kyle and asked him to list his daily responsibilities. For each one he listed I handed him one marble. I did this with all four older children and soon each had a good sized handful of marbles. Then I did it for myself. My hand was quite a bit fuller. I asked them if they had ever heard the expression "She lost her marbles..." Some had, some hadn't so I explained what that meant and that it was certainly the way I was feeling at the moment. Then I had each child go through what responsibilities they had "forgotten" that day and to place a marble for each into MY hands. Soon the marbles were unable to fit neatly into my hand, and started pouring onto the rug. As I tried to pick them back up, a lot of my marbles spilled onto the carpet. The kids watched and I explained some more. "Look guys. I have MY marbles, you have yours. For every marble you drop, I have to pick them up and when there's too many to handle by myself, I lose ALL my marbles...GET IT??"
I listed all my grievances such as having to remember for them that the dogs needed fed, their laundry needed folded and their zones needed tidied. I explained that if it were up to me we'd have no dogs, they'd get one outfit each and I'd make them sit on the couch the entire day so no messes would be made. I tried to help them understand that when you live in a family, everyone has a certain amount of responsibilities that keep things running and enjoyable. If you want animals, you have to care for animals. If you want clothing, you have to take care of them. If you want to LIVE in a house, you have to maintain it. Period. Simple. Life isn't all fun and games.
The frustrating thing for me was that they already knew all of this. This is something I've had to face a lot in my parenting....the constant reminders to stay on track. The training of little humans to do what they are supposed to do. It's exhausting. I'll admit that. But it's also worth it. Jamie taught me a little phrase recently that I absolutely love, from his old Navy days... "Is the juice worth the squeeze?" Is the action you are taking worth the final outcome? I love this so much. I can answer yes to the question when it comes to raising children. I have seen the fruits of my labor time and time again, but there are some days when I wonder what I've gotten myself into.
The hard part is, I have a very, very VERY small circle in which I feel comfortable turning to when the days are maddening. They are the few that understand I've usually got this crazy family thing down, that I'm well skilled in managing a household this size and I've implemented about a thousand "Safety checks" that ensure things run smoothly around here. The most frustrating thing is people trying to fix our life with suggestions they feel are new and different than the methods I've already employed and while the concern is sweet, it's misplaced. I've got this, I really do. Jamie does too. We've got the childrens' number and we are on top of it.
But some days....and we all have them...small families, large families, pet only families....bad days. Hectic and chaotic and crazy. It's just a part of life. Some days you just freakin blow it. Blow up. Breathe in, blow out. (and fantasize about blowing up every single toy in the house...and the xbox....and the computer....)
Thankfully my little breakdown was such a rare thing that the children were absolutley shocked. They had absolutely no idea what to think and my husband never ONCE blamed it on hormones, or my "fragile emotional state" which is awesome (even though he wouldn't have been off if he had) He made the children accept their part in it all, and I accepted my part (I was not on top of it like I should have been) and we moved forward.
But my children will never hear the expression "She's Gonna Blow!!" and not think of me, on the rug, crying about having to remember the dog's eye medication.