In my former corporate job, a bad day meant revenue was off, every email I read was another roadblock, I had too many meetings and no time to go pee or eat lunch, or a meeting was a major waste of time. But nobody called me the meanest mommy ever! Nobody pitched a fit – well, a few people did from time to time – but they never cried. Never kicked.
The last twelve hours have been a bad day on the mommy job.
Last night, Son misbehaved one time too many and I lost my temper. Then, neither child bought into my new strategic plan for story time now that “Daddy has a new job and has to travel a lot and often won’t be here to read you your own stories.”
They demanded. I negotiated.
We settled on plan D and both kids went to sleep easily from sheer emotional exhaustion.
I was up tossing and turning at four a.m., wondering what new term I could Google to learn how to prevent such bad days in my future. Prevent their bad behavior and my bad reaction.
This morning, fatigued and determined to stay calm through the a.m. routine, we made it pleasantly to 7:35.
Then daughter discovered loose change in the drawer under the phone. (She was retrieving a ballerina sticker to celebrate her 4th night staying in her bed. Which just goes to show that just because your kids finally learn to sleep through the night doesn’t mean, as a mother, that you ever will!)
She quickly started piling coins into her little palm.
“Hey,” I said on the fly. (Every moment’s a private brainstorming meeting on the mommy job. And every other moment is a negotiating tactic gone wrong.) “You can each have some coins to put in the Haiti can in your classrooms.”
During the next five minutes, Son and Daughter proceeded to grab as many coins as their fists could hold, fight over who had more, and steal from each other as they yelled and fought in mounting hysteria.
“She has fifteen! I need more!”
“But you have quarters, hers are only dimes and nickels.” (As if this mattered.)
“He stole mine!”
“These are for children in Haiti who lost their homes in the earthquake! Can’t you think about them and not about wanting more for yourselves?”
“But I want to keep it! What about mine?”
My early morning charity ploy was obviously a huge, huge mistake. I quietly made my way to the bathroom to answer the call of nature with a locked door. (Hey, after six years, I deserve some privacy for my business.)
The screaming escalated. Loud tears ensued. Uh oh. Pounding on the door. Committed to my new commitment to privacy, I stayed put.
“I’m going to the bathroom and I’ll be out in a minute!”
“But I’m hurt!”
I pulled up my pants and faced the more pressing need of my moment.
Apparently, in my brief absence Daughter had taken her sandwich bag of coins and hurled it down the stairs at Son’s head. Ouch. I hugged him and whispered sweet mommyisms in his ear. Both bags of money were relegated to a high shelf until “You can behave better and show that you care about helping the children in Haiti!”
We missed the bus, I drove them to school, and returned home for a conference call with four business people about revisions to their leadership book. Amazingly, no one started crying or called me names when I suggested that the opening to Chapter Two needed some tweaking.
Oh, that’s right, my expectations for how people will behave aren’t totally unrealistic in the rest of my life. Just in motherhood.