Last week, I completely lost my cool in front of my kids. It was one of those huge trigger moments for me — I had been running all day, my husband was working late, and all four of my kids were in the kitchen, hanging on my feet, whining for snacks even while I was trying to make dinner. I was trying to do all the things at once: load the dishwasher, prep dinner, pack lunches, clean the kitchen, help my daughters with their homework, and when the four-year-old somehow managed to empty the entire ice bucket onto the floor after I told him to stop playing with the fridge, I lost it.
I’m not proud of it, but it happened and looking back, I can’t help but wonder why I insisted on barreling through, even though that after-school chaos is always a trigger for me. I know this after eight years as a mom and yet, I ignored it. I knew that I was asking for a melt-down. I knew that I was exhausted and that as soon as we walked through the door that backpacks would explode, that children (and me) would be hangry, that inevitably, some small child would make a huge mess because that’s life with four kids under the age of eight.
But instead of taking a deep breath and pausing or delegating a task or waiting to pack lunches or even choosing a simpler dinner, I just dove in head first. And I ended up yelling, then feeling awful for yelling, then spending the right of the night in a dark cloud of guilt and why am I such a crappy mother all of the time, even when I swear I’m not going to yell?
Ugh. Tell me I’m not alone here. I start each day with the decision and motivation to do better and then by the end of the day, I am so over it and I feel like a failure and I vow to do better the next morning — and you know the drill.
When I think about it though, I really am being an idiot. There’s no way around it. There is no motherhood police that was going to swoop in and arrest me if I didn’t have All The Things Done the second we walked through the door. No one would have cared (and actually, my kids probably would have rejoiced) if I would have just left the dishes, paused the homework, and declared a messy kitchen was OK and instead, fixed us all a snack so we could take a breather for a minute.
I’ve been doing this for eight years. You would think I would know better. And maybe, finally, I am learning a little something. Because I think we all have those “triggers” as moms. Maybe yours is different than mine, but I can rattle off at least five right now: the witching hour before dinner, unloading groceries with all four of them hanging on me, trying to get out of the door, getting interrupted for the 19th billion time when I sit down to work and something that should take 10 seconds takes 10 hours (exaggeration, but you get the point.)
So here’s my revelation — what if, next time, when I know I am about to encounter a trigger situation, I chose to just walk away? Would the world end? Would I get my motherhood license taken away? Would I fail as a wife?
Something tells me we might all be better off for it. So the next time it’s 5 o’clock and you’re wondering what other moms are doing in the witching hour and if you should Do All The Things right now, I’m just going to go ahead and say that you’re on your own for this one. Because if you need me, I’ll probably be kicking back with my kids eating a snack first.