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For All The Nights I’m Not…

A very thoughtful reader wrote me a comment for my helicopter parenting article which made me think once again: the minute we think we know SOMETHING, we come to realize we don’t know anything.

If you haven’t read the article, I write about a near miss for two children on bikes, a story in which I describe myself as a bit of a helicopter parent when it comes to some aspects of our children’s upbringing.  However, that is not me ALL of the time.  I wouldn’t have you to believe I am a saint or some kind of perfect mother.  So just for the record, for all the other nights I am not the helicopter parent, here’s what I’ve been known to be:

Monday evening, September 29th, 2014:

In our house, if Husband is the voice of reason, I am the voice of hysteria.

It is 6:00 p.m., and I am simultaneously cleaning up from supper, emptying the dishwasher and refereeing children’s disputes/meltdowns. Apparently, there is not enough technological bandwidth power to suitably fire up the Save Our Sanity effort in our house tonight (i.e. the computers are not working and too many people are trying to access the limited supply.) All this while I am having my own epic meltdown.

In fact, mine is ten times worse than anyone else’s about five minutes in. If there was a club of Hysterical People Anonymous, I would be president RIGHT NOW. If there were a meeting of that club anywhere- ANYWHERE- within a 500 mile radius right now, I would gladly vacate the premises and walk barefoot to that meeting on a road of hot volcanic gravel, just to escape the fresh torture that is our after-supper witching hour sans Husband.

Ah supper hour. How I oft despise thee!

If there were a meal I would gratefully skip, it would be supper. I know, I know I KNOW- there are so many idyllic ideals surrounding this mealtime that I have read about, pondered upon and dreamed about in my sleep. But PEOPLE. Suppertime was actually made for the simple purpose of tormenting and afflicting otherwise exhausted mothers so that they could quickly lose their minds. Zero to sixty, baby. Honest, cross my heart- this is the really, truly, truthiest truth. I wouldn’t lie.

But just to be sure, let’s play a fun game. True or false… Supper time is a peaceful, relaxing hour when all is well in the world (and children eat all their food and then empty the dishwasher). Ding, ding, ding: FALSE!!!!!! Suppertime is actually an hour of psychosis when mothers (and quite possibly at times FATHERS) haven’t quite lost all their marbles in the long and endless battle to get their kids to come to the supper table- because that’s what supper is for. To finish them off and kill them slowly. Supper is quite simply for the birds. Literally. Or the cats. I ended up giving the cats two platefuls tonight. The birds got some crusts earlier on today. Whatevs.

Husband, bless his heart, (while all this chaos is underway), is driving blissfully unaware in a van without children (AND HOW DID THIS PUZZLING REALITY HAPPEN???), oblivious to his wife’s complete and utter loss of her mental faculties. Ignorance is bliss they say. I’ll fix that. Luckily, he took the cell phone so he will soon be in the loop regarding all things psychotic that his wife has been fully aware of for the exactly two point three seconds that she has LOST HER FLIPPIN’MIND.
I love me some speed dial.

He answers me because he has to. We’ve got BlueTooth- no excuses. It must feel good to say, “Hunny, I am in Summerside right now…what do you want me to do?” when your wife is about ready to crawl through the phone wires. All I have to say is this: thank goodness for that forty-five minute stretch of highway. It gave Someone enough time to take a Sober Second breath before nailing the last spike into her own coffin.

All crazy things must come to an eventual, frantic end. So I eventually calmed down. What goes up must come down. I met Husband coming in the driveway as I was on my way out, (where upon I was sidetracked into investigating the back of the truck where Children had left a bunch of stuff they forgot to take in the house which I found and grumpily carted in myself). I guess the steam must have still been flying out my ears because he cleared a wide berth for me as I marched out the driveway and up the road.

This is my version of running away from home. And you have no idea how many times the after supper walk has saved our marriage. Thirty minutes of sweet, sweet solitude that brings Mother Dearest back to her senses, restores her sense of inner calm and reminds her of all she has and all her family means to her.

It’s all good- and dare I say, even worth it. Even if that means I have to go through it all again tomorrow night.

So, for all the nights I am a helicopter parent, I breathe a prayer of thanks.  And for all the nights I’m not, I’m thankful too.  Every life needs a state of balance in it to remind us of our fragility- to remind us of our humanity.  So for tonight, I will say this prayer of serenity…

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

…because that’s all we can be accountable for in a given day.

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5 thoughts on “For All The Nights I’m Not…

  1. Don’t feel bad about the helicopter parent label. I have it tattooed on my forehead. I am the worst kind of hoverer and worst case scenario worrier. There are worse things to be. Suppertime is pure wretched hell. My daughter is a picky eater with a short attention span and as of recently a serious diva complex. I am often going it alone because the husband works crazy hours. I have had many an anxiety attack during a mealtime meltdown. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and breath. Ahhhhhh.. I ask God for the strength daily as well. Hang in there mama.

    • Thank you so much for this encouragement! I needed this word of affirmation today. Thanks for making ME feel ‘not-so-alone’ in this struggle (which is really more of a journey)! Hope your suppertime tonight is smooth sailing all the way! So, here’s to WISHES and Fairytales!! Sometimes dreams DO come true—if we just keep on believing! 😉

  2. I started following your blog this school year when a colleague shared your “Teacher’s To-Do List.” I absolutely love your writing and your entries always bring the extra perspective I need in the midst of a busy day. I adore my job as an elementary school teacher and almost every day I am filled to bursting with love and patience when it comes to my students. But this morning I was definitely struggling with the patience part and it was great to read your blog, giggle at our human imperfections, remind myself that none of us keep it 100% together all the time, and remember that sometimes all we need are just those few moments to re-center ourselves and go back to do it all over again!

    • Kelley: Sometimes I struggle with sharing ALL of myself here on this blog and in my writing…as I wear many different faces depending on the given day! I am glad that you could see the humor and humanity in this post. I want to be REAL about my living- some days, I feel like a hero- other days, not so much. But there is always TOMORROW!! And that’s what grace is all about! HUGS! 🙂

  3. oh my soul — you’re funny, sis…certainly not alone in your struggles with chaos and raising children — you just have a unique way of articulating and making the ‘normal’ things of every day life seem a little crazier as you have a way of writing it all neatly out in paragraph form…haha — taking that walk after supper is a good idea — I keep telling myself to do that, and always seem to wind up on the couch instead. ha!

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