That’s my nickname. The Mommy Monster. Self-appointed. Sort of. It came up as a joke one day and it sort of...well, stuck. A little too well.
And I used to say that he was Mommy's little monster...and when he stated - no demanded - that this is what he wanted to be for Halloween, I thought to myself "how appropriate".
Well, it’s hard. Much harder than I anticipated. This is a sweet boy. A good boy. A boy that I love and cherish every day. But for my life, he is aging me. Whether it be “boy” antics, my general lack of patience, or his un-ending need to be in control of all things – I can’t really say for sure. Maybe a little of each. Or a lot of each.
Every day seems to be a challenge. The good days of fun and laughter and truly enjoying each other are, well not so much happening at the moment. We’re more or less struggling to make it. He and I. We are both very strong willed. And let’s just clear this up – I’m not caving. Not to a 3-year old. No way. No how. And maybe that’s part of it. My complete unwillingness to bend to the will of a 3 year old. But I’m here to tell you – it’s not gonna happen. He would have us eating chocolate for all major meals, watching back to back episodes of Scooby Doo, and screaming at the top of our lungs and tackling poor Keira for 22 of the 24 hours in any given day. So no. I’m not caving.
But the not caving? It takes a toll. Because everything is a struggle. Everything is a fight. I’m exhausted by the end of the day, emotionally. There is very little that he doesn’t want his way and his way only. And the temper…he has even started HUFFING at me. Huffing and SIGHING. Rolling his eyes at me. Oh for the love of Gouda Cheese. This cannot be! It’s too soon to start these games. Games that I am in no mood for. And he does not get away with it. Let’s be clear. Oh no. He does not. But I can’t help but wonder if my attitude in general is the bigger problem.
Little bit about me: I’m not very patient. I’m not a roll on the floor, happy-happy, spunky, fun, let’s play “tackle the Mommy” kind of gal. This is vulnerable to admit, because I guess you could tell me that that’s a shame. That you’re sorry my kids are stuck with me. And I’m not sure I would disagree in a way. Even though I would be lost without them. They are kind of stuck with me.
I’m a tow the line kind of Mom. Crack the whip. Stay in line. Don’t back-talk. Pick up your toys. Let’s wipe your nose. Did you brush? Eat your food. Not right now, I’m sorting laundry. Don’t jack with the dog. Don’t make a mess. Are you seriously pushing your sister again? Did you just bite your brother? Is it not naptime yet? Where are my keys? You flushed your Lightening McQueen underwear down the toilet, for real? No, I’m not kidding. If I have to tell you again…
I’m that Mom. The Mommy Monster.
And don’t bother hating me. I already loathe that I inadvertently picked that Mom card before I ever had kids and not the joyful Pollyanna Mommy Card. I think it’s the OCD, Type-A unfortunate happenstance that’s killing me here. Not knowing before that I would spend a lot of these early years in a dreary type of overwhelmed state…just ignorant really. Because in my head it was so much more romantic and grand and constantly a wonder. Ahem.
And my struggles with Quint – well they just compound the already sharp parenting stage set in my mind. He’s been taking me to the mat daily, since nine months old. Never letting go of his need to control. Hyper-vigilant to win. Argue. Stand his ground. Make me work for it.
And I do try. I am at constant war with the Mommy Monster. Always trying to push her down a bit and find a better way to cope.
So, we play. We laugh. We read together. We take walks and go to the park. We tickle and act silly and play with toys. I’m not a drill-sergeant – although some days it certainly feels like all I do is yell or get frustrated too quickly or bark orders or lose my cool or throw my patience out the door…
I want to see all the beauty, day in and day out of my children growing up. But I spend a lot of time stuck in the trenches of resistance. Resistance to letting go of my former pre-Mommy Monster life. Resistance to allowing my house to become a dumping ground, in general. Resistance to having a toddler that is so full of laughter and life and love – but that seems to take joy in antagonizing those around him. Whether it be me, his sister, his dog…even his friends. Picking him up from school is like a cross between happy to see him – because I adore him – and cringing to hear what the teacher might have to say about his behavior for the day. Cringing that we now return to our regularly scheduled program of “The Mommy Monster”. Because that’s what I seem to become.
And I guess I don’t have to tell all of you this, about me. I guess I really don’t. Because it is vulnerable and it is somewhat sacred. And transparent. You know, that I’m not perfect. (I know…not a big newsflash there) That I struggle every day. That despite what it looks like maybe on the outside, on the inside we’ve all got something we’re walking through. And parenting is the hardest relationship I’ve ever tried to build in my life.
But I think there is something more important to my transparency and that is a sense of understanding. For the person reading this that feels the same way that I do – and needs to be affirmed in that troublesome place. We are much more common than you might think. The Mommy Monsters. And I hate to be cliché, but perhaps the first step is admitting you have a problem with the way you relate to your kids. I don’t have it figured out at all. But a sense of community always helps. Just knowing you are NOT the only one – hearing those words - “I’m not the only one who is going through this. We’re not unique”. There is comfort there.
For what it’s worth, I certainly don’t want to waste so much time feeling like my head might pop off. I don’t want to do battle with my son. I don’t want to be the Mommy Monster. Angry, frustrated, depleted, and spent.
And I think there is a point when you can admit to yourself that you might be the problem. I might be the problem here. I am too impatient. I am quick to anger. I am not as loving and kind as I would like to see myself be. Not as gentle. A little too quick to react.
The sad thing is that time is slipping by – and if I don’t change my approach…well, it will be gone. These precious moments of the early years. Gone too soon, and with them my ability to enjoy them. They are only little once. There is a reason people tell you to “enjoy them now”. There is a reason we look back and remember the good over the bad and see our sweet babies in pictures and become weepy. This is a sweet time – a cocoon of innocence and tenderness that is fleeting.
Yes, we are bound to have our not so glamorous moments of parenting. But not enjoying them because we’re too stressed out all the time? Not changing the way we parent or approach our strong-willed kids so that we can soak up more of the good in them? See their hearts and who they are at their core, and not just the behavior? Not reigning in our own anger and frustration so that we can find a more manageable way to get through to their hearts - and not just their heads?
I think anything less will only leave heavy regret. And I think I've been settling for just getting by.
Can I live with that?
-The Mommy Monster