I came to the realization on the way back from Tot Gym this morning that over the past few days, maybe even weeks, I have allowed myself to be sucked down into a vortex of self-pity, and if I don't get ahold of myself, I'm in danger of becoming the type of mom I said I'd never want to be.
It was a little incident at Tot Gym (thank goodness "little" since it had the potential to be big), that woke me up to so many other things. Suddenly I was staring at a montage of myself and not happy at all with what I saw.
There I am at 7 in the morning, wishing I didn't have to be the one to answer Delaney's thud-thud-thud wakeup call, and dragging myself to her room. How long since Delaney got a cheerful greeting in the morning?
There I am, feeling burnt out from the long day, tearfully telling Tim how much I miss having his parents around, to "swoop in" every now and then and take these kids off our hands for a little while.
There I am, feeling like this house is falling down around me, and I can't get it under control. I fantasize having someone else come in to clean my house, and not always having dirty bathrooms in the back of my mind. [We've already been down that road, and it's not happening.]
There I am complaining to friends about how Tim worked on a project all through the three-day weekend, and I didn't get the weekend help that I'm accustomed to getting, and we had no quality family time. Three-day weekend, ha! Try seven-month deployment!
There I am saying to Tim, "Ugh, I just can't do bathtime tonight;" knowing that he will pitch in and give Delaney her bath even though he's had a hard day himself.
Taken alone, none of these things is a big deal. But add them all together over the course of just a couple weeks, and I'm alarmed. Alarmed at how often I'm hoping and expecting someone else -- usually Tim -- to take over and do my job. The job that I happily and eagerly signed up for. The job that, as we were talking about at a friend's house the other night, we are darn lucky to be able to have. It's a privilege to be able to stay home and raise these kids ourselves, and to be able to afford to is a luxury. But lately the voice in me that says, I am blessed, I am lucky is being drowned out by the loud whiny one that says, Why me? Why all the time?
How did I ever get it into my head that just because I am feeling especially challenged these days -- I'd even go so far as to say besieged some days -- that I am in any way entitled to a break? Why am I still waiting for some relief?
So today, I take the girls to Tot Gym, as much to get out of the house and see friends, as to get Delaney somewhere where she can burn energy. It is a little dance and gymnastics studio, comprised of a few rooms -- a studio, a room where the gymnastics equipment is, a coatroom, and a lobby with a desk -- all separated by doors that are not childproofed. Neither is the front door. The kids run from room to room, but the only rooms where there is anything for them to do are the dance studio and the gymnastics room, which are connected by a door.
With Delaney off playing independently, I relax and sit down with Annalise, just talking with the other moms there. I know I ought to be checking on Delaney, but I shrug off my own little voice of concern, saying, "She's fine here, there's nothing for her to get into.." OK, mostly true. But then I'm ashamed to say, I followed that up with, "I'm sure the teacher wouldn't let her run out the front door, even if she were strong enough to open it." Funny how at that moment I didn't hear what two things were wrong with that statement: that a) First and foremost, it's not Miss Sandra's job to keep kids from running out the door; and b) the idiotic idea that Delaney's not strong enough to do anything she sets her mind to doing.
Within a short while, I was told that Delaney, who makes it her mission to test any and all boundaries, had tried to escape. Miss Sandra, who I'm sure relishes the job of gatekeeper, in addition to dance and gymnastics instructor, had stopped her.
And here I was, face to face with my laziness, complacency and readiness to pass the buck -- things that I had never before hesitated to notice in others from atop my high horse.
Feeling like a complete dumbass, I kept my Delaney in view the rest of the time we were there, and gave her a time-out for going to the door again soon before we left. This is what it's about sometimes -- time-outs and crying. Other times, it's all about hugs and smiles, and then life is easy. But this too shall pass, and then it will be back to hugs and smiles, right?
Until then, can I stop waiting and expecting for a break? For Delaney to stop acting like a two-year-old? For a fairy godmother to appear and say, "I've got it. You spend the day at the spa."? Or even for Tim to get home just an hour or two early?
Can I catch myself about to complain about my wonderful life, and instead just suck it up and say a prayer? Yeah, I'll try that and see how it goes.