Friday, July 25, 2008

The Post Where I Get All Philosophical on Your Ass and a Bit Lengthy

Yesterday I listened to an acquaintance who needed to talk. Her husband's career sends him out of town often and there she is at home with her five year old daughter and three year old twins. Her oldest daughter has become difficult lately and she's feeling that she's exhausted all her options and is throwing her hands in the air. While she's speaking, her twins are shrieking and running wild; and either laughing at or ignoring her warnings completely. The last of which she turned to me and her eyes were brimming with tears. She was done. DONE! It's a face any mother would recognize.

I felt for her. I really, really did. And if I were a better person I would have offered to take her kids for the afternoon and let her regroup. Get a cup of coffee. Go home and take a nap. Get a moment to eat some lunch and read a magazine, undisturbed. But I didn't. Because I'm not. All I was prepared to offer was a trite promise that kindergarten and preschool start in a short three weeks and "this too shall pass".

"This too shall pass" has gotten me through some really shitty days. Kid related or otherwise. But it isn't an easy thing to grasp. It takes time and experience to learn that whatever you're experiencing right at that moment, even if it lasts for days, weeks, months, or years, eventually will pass (one caveat being the loss of a child because I can't imagine that ever passing). Or at the very least you will learn to cope with. And someday you'll look back on whatever it was that vexed you and pat yourself on the back for getting through because of or in spite of it; with a little more wisdom and knowledge... both invaluable tools for life.

I could have offered to help her out for the day but that would have done nothing for the rest of the tomorrows that follow. It's something that I can TELL her but that she's going to have to figure out on her own [like telling a teen girl that they should try to wait for the right guy and that there's more to babies than cute GAP clothes] It's almost considered blasphemy to think or say that there are parts of motherhood that suck out loud and hardcore; and one of them being that sometimes you have to suffer through days with your kids. And tolerate them. Those days make you feel like shit.

[Brief aside: Through my years of experience and observation, I'm convinced that the main reason kids can turn into hell on wheels in a hot second is because parents provide all of their entertainment for them... playdates, activities, lessons, camps, classes, outings... and then once at home and left to their own devices they simply don't know how to entertain themselves. They're all, "WTF, Mom? Now what? Entertain me! That's not good enough, the king is not amused. I shall now draw on the wall with this crayon and then fling myself to the floor and wail!" ...I mean, have you ever watched an infant? I mean, reallllly paid close attention? They will play with their foot for like half an hour. They recognize a good time. Then once that child learns to walk, BAM! Let the over scheduling of activities begin. End aside.]

This was the second time this week that I spit out "this too shall pass" in conversation. The first was with Mr. Farklepants [on an issue unrelated to the above]:

Me: There's just not enough sticktoitiveness anymore.

Mr.F: Yeah.

Me: Not enough just suffering through.

Mr.F: ...? I agree.

Me: This too shall pass -that's my motto.

Mr.F: I share your motto.

Me: We're like THIS.

Mr.F: Mmmhmm.

Me: We're like right HERE.

Mr.F: Yes.

Me: I'm like the ying to your yang.

Mr.F: ......

Me: The Simon to your Garfunkel.

Mr.F: .........

Me: Like th...

Mr.F: Actually, we're more like ying and ying.

Me: I don't even know what that means.

Mr.F: .....

Me: Oh! Cuz we're like the same.

Mr.F: Yeah!

Me: Yeah...we're like THIS.

37 comments:

barbra said...

I think that the difference is that moms used to be able to send their kids out to explore the neighborhood when mom had had it with them. You know? We can't do that anymore, we must watch over them ALL. THE. TIME.

It's TOO MUCH! TOO MUCH I TELL YOU!

1blueshi1 said...

Does this mean you're not taking Zac & Bookey today AFTER ALL????!!!! hahahahaha

standing still said...

I think mine was "this is just a phase." That got me through serious shit when Teen/Child was young.

jenontheedge said...

If one of my kids starts to whine about being bored, I'll tell them to go to their rooms and investigate that concept called cleanliness. They know this, so they censor themselves better now and don't complain so much of having nothing to do. If they forget and the whining commences, tough. I guarantee they'll find something interesting while they're shoveling through the piles of junk.

Madame Queen said...

I agree with you 100% about kids not being able to entertain themselves anymore. I think that's part of my problem with Punkin right now. She wants me to do EVERYTHING for her. Not Daddy. MOMMY! Only Mommy. GAH! But you're right, it will pass, and once it's over you DO feel good that you got through.

Now, onto less weighty issues. I have a question for your advice column, if you're still doing that. Occasionally, only occasionally mind you, my deodorant stops working. I think it's a hormonal thing but whatever. The problem is that my clothes sometimes have (whispers) an odor.(stops whispering). How can I get that out? Regular detergent doesn't work. Any ideas?

Stacie said...

When I lost my mind a few years ago, I decided to homeschool. It was tough and fun..and tough.
After two years of that, my kids got into a magnet arts school. we were really happy. Regular public school just wasn't an option in these heah parts. Our neighbors would see them out in the yard and they would say, your kids entertain themselves so well..Well, now that they are entertained at school all day long, the weekends are filled with "what are we doing today?" I have had to reteach them that their entertainment lies in between their own two ears or if they're bored, they can play with the $40,000 worth of toys in their room. We overbook them, pamper them, and fill them with our guilt.I truly believe that God gave them their own two feet for a reason. sorry so long...

Stacie said...

oh! and i totally agree with Barbra too...it's just not safe to let them roam like we were able to do.

Squeaker Sullivan said...

Aren't yin and yang supposed to be opposites that balance each other out? Haha, or maybe *I* am the one confused!

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

Your aside totally hits the nail on the head.

I live my life in a bit of a different motto - try to enjoy a little part of each day. With Brian's VERY serious sickness, we don't know when it will pass or IF it will pass and the passing of the sickness might also be the passing of Brian, so I don't live in the "this too shall pass" way of life. I live more in the - let's enjoy at least part of this day. Let's make the best of what we got. Now, if I could only transfer that motto over to the days when the kids are awful....

KEEP BELIEVING

All Adither said...

I'm not much for taking other people's kids...unless I have to. So I'm sure I would've done what you did and offered sage advice instead.

I agree about the entertainment thing. That's why I ignore my children whenever possible and let them fend for themselves. ;)

This Mom said...

Oh I SOOOO agree. THough in my haouse we have so few toys (because if I find them on the floor I but them in the trash) that they learn to play with each other amd random things they find around the house.

Kalynne Pudner said...

It shall pass? Really? When? (Nineteen years and counting...)

Eve Grey said...

Kids between 1-4 are not very fun if you've got more than one in that age group. Yes, you love them, want to squeeze them for their darlingness sometimes, would die for them etc., etc., etc.. but regardless of all that, usually, having 2 or more kids between 1-4 is simply not that fun. It's all abut maintenance, diapers, food, cleaning, bathing. I tell moms this when they're in the thick of it so they don't feel like a big failure and the only one in the world who wants to run away from their kids sometimes. It.gets. better, way better. That is the real message.

Amy said...

My four year old can entertain himself with the shoes on his feet if he needs to (like when hes punished).

My oldest she is the one that always wants me to "give" her something to do. And I "give" her, her room to clean!

I can't wait til school/day care starts back up again though!

Amy Amy Bo Bamey said...

I always use that saying too. It is hard when you are in the heat of the moment but I always think back to the tough time I had before that and yup it had passed.

That conversation with the Mr. sounds like something Hubby and I would have said.

Karen said...

This too shall pass is my mommy mantra. I repeat it as needed, some days way more than others!
Oh and I totally agree about the over scheduling of kids.
Would you like to come over and have a glass of wine? Well someday when you are in Florida? Damn internet bringing like minded people around the world together.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I have the same exact motto! I've had it for many years, and you're right on about why it works.

I consider the flavoring of medicine to be a symptom of the decline you're talking about. It's medicine. You take it because it's good for you, not good tasting. We're teaching kids they never, ever just have to suck it up. I do not play that game.

Don Mills Diva said...

It's a wonderful motto - but of course it's always easier to say these things than actually practice them. Hope your friend has better days ahead...

Ann said...

Yes, Toots, yes. On all of it. My mom got sick when I was 19, she died when I was 21 - I took care of her in between. Parts of me died along with her, parts I'll never, ever get back. I've never had a Mom as an adult - really. I NEVER thought I'd get over that time in my life. I did. Things pass, we grow, we learn, we're better for it. I think it's good that you didn't rescue - she's got to go through it to get to the other side.

You YINGS you. :)

Dave Carrol said...

Great post!

Just stumbled past your blog!

DAve

Jen M. said...

there's more to babies than cute GAP clothes???

Wha...? Crap.

Jennifer H said...

I'm with you on getting kids to entertain themselves (and hot damn, when will this summer ever end?). I'm an under-scheduler, probably. I'm not sure how many times this summer I've said, "It's not my job to entertain you. Go find something to do."

That may become my motto.

But yours is better.

Auds at Barking Mad said...

"...I'm convinced that the main reason kids can turn into hell on wheels in a hot second is because parents provide all of their entertainment for them... playdates, activities, lessons, camps, classes, outings... and then once at home and left to their own devices they simply don't know how to entertain themselves. They're all, "WTF, Mom? Now what?..."

That right there is almost akin to blashphemy in the uber-over-scheduled life of a lot of kids and I am so effing pleased to actually hear someone finally say it!

That was brilliance Toots...pure brilliance.

Marmarbug said...

I agree SO MUCH! Kids need to learn to play by themselves (I almost said with themselves, oops!)
I will never overschedule the Bean.

Denise said...

I wish I could just do what my mom did. Send everyone outside to play and say we weren't allowed to return for 3 hours.

AGSoccerMom said...

Can you believe I printed out a label with that same exact phrase and it's proudly displayed on my computer monitor at work! Just saying "THIS TOO SHALL PASS" out loud seems to work.
Way Cool.

Swirl Girl said...

I use that line all the time. Like when my neighbors kid was crunching away on a garden snail - shell and all.

I said "that too shall pass"

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Very true. And the family that suffers together? They kind of bond. I raise my tribe with no neighbors or family close by to speak of and we rely on ourselves and it is kind of cool that way.

Stu said...

So are you two like this or like THIS?

I have told my kids; "It is not my job to entertain you. It is my job to keep you safe, healthy and grow up to be a decent person"

-Stu

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

Very well said toots. I think sometimes years do suck and weeks or months. You are very right about that. And, we do have to muddle through it.

hippo brigade said...

"this too shall pass" has helped me many, many times.
Like when my baby cried non stop for the first 45 days of her life, and when my high school boyfriend broke up with me, and when I got my hair stuck in my gym locker.

Indy said...

So agree. I know my kids have been watching too much tv or playing video games when they say they are bored. And for your friend, those days are so horrible. I had so many. Tell her to eat chocolate or drink some wine. You have to self medicate to get through it.

Texan Mama said...

"This too shall pass" works fine, but I prefer, "If I get through this, at least I know it didn't kill me. And what doesn't kill me makes me stronger. So by now I should be effing Superwoman."

Seriously, though. When I have bad spots I put in a DVD, let out a tear or two, then realize, "only x more hours till bed time then it will be a new day tomorrow." For some reason I always have faith that tomorrow I can't screw it up more than I did today.

kmbr said...

It irks me that all the local kids are in some kind of day camp/care. I find it hard to believe that they don't also have rooms and yards full of bright colored plastic objects to play with. Not to mention the prevalence of private pools in greater LA. Sheesh.

When approached with the "mom, I'm bored" gambit by my 7 and 8 year old boys, I reply, "only boring people are bored, shall I come up with a chore?". That usually takes care of it.

We just got back from 3 weeks in the middle of IL. Literally, cornfield and soybeans central. You can still let them roam there, so they get sent outside for hours at a time with the caveat "if you're thirsty, you know where the hose is".

It worked for my mom.

dkuroiwa said...

Yes...great motto...My grandfather used to say to us whenever we would complain about something or had to do something that maybe we really didn't like...."you can stand on your head for 3 months".
Both of those have helped me though many a bad/sucky time!!

And really...kids these days!! I know something is wrong when my 6-year-old says that he is "bored". Are you kidding me? Get your little butt outside...in the sunshine...with the bugs and whatever...!!!! Don't come back in until you're dirty and have possibly ripped an item of clothing!!

Lisa Milton said...

Hear, hear.

I was just thinking those same things yesterday. Or close enough to them, anyway.

I love it when my kids find something to do with themselves; they will grow up happier if they don't have to be constantly entertained.

Good job, Mr. & Mrs. F.

laughingatchaos said...

My version of "this too shall pass" is "they'll change the world if I don't strangle them first." I'd hate to be the reason the world's problems aren't solved. LOL!
I am a FIRM believer of letting the kids entertain themselves. What I'm really sick of, though, is when they're hungry and demand to be fed...every 20 minutes. So over that. School starts soon and that will be a welcome relief. This week they will be entertaining themselves when we're not out doing things. I'm not the home entertainment system. ;)