Oh, how I’ve missed you. I’ve neglected writing for far too long, and for that, my sincerest apologies. I know that for some of you, recaps of a day in the Mediocre household reassure you that you’re doing a good job. Or at least a mediocre one. I have decided that you, dear reader, are deserving of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And so begins my confession.
I’m only mediocre on my good days. I haven’t written because we’ve been having a very hard time with Goo, and at the end of the day, I’ve been kind of happy if all our limbs were still attached and we both hadn’t fully succumbed to laryngitis after screaming all day. Mustering up coherent thoughts, laced with my rapier wit, was kind of at the bottom of my list.
I mostly grew up as an only child. There was brief chunk of time when I lived with my dad, stepmom, and older stepbrother. But that was very brief, and he’s 7 years older than I, so it wasn’t really the same as all the usual sibling rivalry and whatnot. The thing is, growing up as an only child left me slightly unprepared for what parenting multiple children entails.
Epic fail number one: I totally dropped the ball in the chore department. With Punkin, she was our only one for almost 4 years. I picked up everything for her, the vast majority of the time. I reminded her when to brush her teeth, get dressed, get her coat on, etc. Fast forward another 4 years, and I’m still reminding her when to brush her teeth, get dressed, etc. It’s maddening. Because now, all that
nagging reminding is times 3. And it makes me want to curl up in the fetal position at the end of the day.
And then, there’s the mess. Good God in heaven, I’ve been parenting for a collective total of almost 14 years, and I still have no. freaking. clue. how they make messes that fast. And they’re everywhere. It takes exactly one day for a totally clean house to be utterly destroyed. And clean up time? Kind of living driving a screwdriver through your eyeball. They fight. They whine. They sigh. They spend more time in time-out than they do cleaning. And at the end of battle, I’m left with most of a mess remaining, and no time left to just enjoy being a family. My stress level most days starts at a 6 and goes up as the day continues. I don’t want it to be like that. I want to enjoy my kids. I want to be the best parent I can be. I want them to be strong, independent, hard-working, responsible women of faith. I don’t want them growing up expecting special treatment, being spoiled, or feeling the world should give them more than everyone else just because they’re who they are. I know people like that. And I don’t much care for being around them.
So in the past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time praying, thinking, and talking to the Nerd about what needs to change. And I have a couple of ideas. Dear readers, this is your golden opportunity to learn from my mistakes. To save yourself, your sanity, and your vocal chords. With this whole parenting thing, it’s all trial and error. I often feel totally unqualified to be raising my children. Is that normal? Just say yes. I’ll feel better.
Here’s what we’ve come up with thus far: our girls need more responsibility. A lot more. And they need more consistency. We’re pretty consistent in most ways: follow through on discipline, always eating dinner as a family, bedtime routine, etc. But during the day there’s a lot of, “Well, we’ll do that later because I need to do laundry now.” And a golden secret I’ve learned in my years of parenting: three-year-olds suck at waiting. Of course it’s something she needs to learn. But a couple of weeks ago, I was giving a preschool teacher at our church some tips on maintaining control in her classroom and establishing a routine so the kids are comfortable and know what to expect.
Insert laughter here. Because the Mediocre Mom was giving tips on controlling preschool behavior. Oh em gee. It’s like a baby teaching me how to draw. Which, coincidentally, is what my drawings usually look like.
Anyway. As I spewed out my nuggets of wisdom about following through, always following a routine, and rewarding good behavior, I thought, “You are an absolute moron, Mediocre Mom. Do you even hear yourself? What the crap? Why have you not done more of this at home?”
Enter my bright idea. The one that’s all over the internet. The one that other moms have been doing since prehistoric eras when cave moms were writing on the walls with rocks. Drum roll please…
Take a minute to just breathe in all that wisdom.
A lot of my frustration on a daily basis stems from the fact that I have to say the same thing exactly 4,682 times a day, to three different children. Things that they are totally capable of doing on their own. Take, for example, bedtime. Every night, for 7 years, Punkin has had the same routine. Potty (or diaper change in the early days), brush teeth, jammies, story, pray, lights out. So why, for the love of God and my sanity, do you go to the bathroom, and then come out staring at me like some lost puppy with no place to go?!? GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH! You know this. Dear God, child, why do I have to tell you the same thing every. single. day? Deep breath.
The other frustrations come largely from the arguments than ensue over their not wanting to do what I ask them to. There are punishments, tears, yelling, and a lot of unnecessary angst that severely cuts into our family play time. And I’m so over it.
So I made routine charts. Tomorrow will kick off our first day. Our first day of waking up, and having the girls go down their charts and take responsibility for everything on there, without my nagging even a little bit. Oh, heck yes.
Side note: Obviously, I don’t expect Smush to brush her own teeth and get herself dressed in the morning. I’ll wait until she turns two.
I also made reward charts about a week ago. Goo has responded beautifully. Instead of it being request, tantrum, time out, repeat – it has become request, reminder of a sticker, request completed. Thank God. Because I was losing my mind on a very regular basis, and one of these times, it’s not going to come back.
My confession is this: I love my girls. So much it hurts. But I’ve dropped the ball in some areas, and my sanity is paying dearly for it. I’ve heard many times from friends who do not yet have kids, “I hope I can be just like you as a parent.”
Oh, sweetie, be careful what you wish for.