When you’re in the parenting trenches as a stay at home mom, it’s hard to see past what is in front of you. Survival is moment to moment and toys reign supreme. Cold coffee and leggings are plentiful while showers and vegetables are scarce. Emotions also run high here. Very high. For both the moms and the kids. Frustration and anger can often take over and at night you hold onto the hope that everyone will just hold it together better tomorrow.
Last year, when I was a stay at home mom in the thick of the parenting trenches with a needy newborn, defiant toddler and dependent preschooler, I stumbled into a veteran mom at a wedding. She was a stay at home mom to four boys, all of whom have long since graduated college and hold respectable jobs. She smiled at me while I was frantically bouncing my newborn and attempting to take sips of my mostly spilled campaign. She had that wistful, nostalgic look that veteran moms often have when looking at younger moms.
“You know,” she said softly, oblivious to the chaos of my two boys attempting Wrestle Mania over a cookie they found at our feet. “If I had to do it over again, I would just not waste so much time being mad.”
This veteran stay at home mom proceeded to tell me the story of one particular evening where she was beyond frustrated with her boys. When her husband finally returned home from work, she stormed past him out to the front porch with a bag of pretzels and a beer, yelling over her shoulder, “don’t come get me until they are all in bed” (aka my nightly fantasy).
“Look,” she continued, “kids are kids. They are going to be annoying, frustrating and tiring no matter what. But that doesn’t mean you should waste your time as a mom being annoyed, frustrated and tired. I wish I had not spent so much of that precious time being all those things.”
This comment has stuck with me because it is so painfully true. No matter how good of a parent you are, your kids are going to annoy you. Severely. That’s what they do. They figure out all of your buttons and press all of them at the same time. All the time. You can guide, direct and teach your kids, but you can’t control them.
What you CAN control is YOUR attitude. You can control whether you stomp around like angry mom all the time or take a deep breath, find your zen and turn into centered mom.
Nighttime is the worst for me. Every night dinner has to be made, fruit has to be cut up, bottles and dishes have to be cleaned, spills have to be wiped, baths have to be run, PJs have to be buttoned and 52,343,242 books have to be read. This cycle is relentless and exhausting and thankless. It wears me down and
every night sometimes makes me want to scream. But all these things have to happen, regardless of whether I am in a good or bad mood for them.
So why not make an effort to push aside my anger and frustration, and acknowledge the positives? To think about my many blessings and how one day I’ll desperately wish I had all these little people to care for and love on. I don’t want to look back on these years in the parenting trenches as completely clouded by frustration and anger. I want to know that I truly delighted in my children when they were little, even though they drove me crazy. And that when faced with irritating situations, I remained calm and chose not to waste all this time being mad.
This mom’s advice has genuinely shifted my perspective while being a stay at home mom in the trenches. I think of it often when I feel anger take over. I repeat to myself, “I don’t want to waste this time on anger.” Just saying this phrase helps me refocus and restores my sanity.
Well, most of the time…
And when all else fails, there are always pretzels and beer.
And the front porch. 😉