By Guest Blogger Thea DeLoreto, author of the blog The Lint Trap
Some days I don’t know myself. Seriously. I look in the mirror and I appear to be the same person. But I am not. Really, I am quite different. Apparently being a mother changes you. Who knew?
I have never in my life been known to have it all together. No one has ever met me and thought, “Wow, she is really slick. I bet she never misses a thing. I bet she always pays all of her bills on time and has never accidentally left her car running for two hours while she went shopping.” But being a mother brings a new level to the game. Organization and scheduling on some level are a must. If you cannot at least keep a calendar marking the bare minimum–dance lessons, birthday parties, doctor’s appointments–you may as well let your child be raised by wolves. Someone has to know that we need to buy fiber gummies and tomorrow is teacher snack. Someone has to be organized. You don’t want to be in the cross hairs of a kid that missed half of a birthday party because you lost the invite. Four year olds don’t tolerate that kind of ineptness out of their people.
I have always prided myself on being go-with-the-flow. Chill. Calmish. Once the children entered the world, I became less zen and more shrill. I now use words like schedule and routine and organize. I yell about eating granola bars and brushing teeth. I have to worry about things like knowing what day of the week it is. Tumbling is Wednesdays and if the leotard is dirty a serious emotional reaction is guaranteed. Remember that time Britney Spears shaved her head in the mall? That kind of serious. I have to organize play dates, make sure there is enough formula, and get cash for the field trip. Running the lives of two other people (actually three if we are being totally honest) makes one’s chi a little unbalanced.
Normally, I am a people pleaser. I want everyone to be as happy as possible. Except my children. Turns out I am not a child pleaser. In fact, I am always the first to do something that will make them very very unhappy. Like wear pants. Eat breakfast. Wear clean diapers. Or a seatbelt in the grocery cart. Really mean stuff. And they let me know that I am making them very unhappy. With lots of loud noises and general assholery. There is nothing a child hates more than someone not living every moment to please them.
I usually dislike when things are too stiff, too strict. I like a little fluidity. Except when it is bedtime. Then I like for everyone to freaking listen to me and stop tickling each other. Stop jumping on the bed. Stop being jovial in general. Just put your pjs on, brush your teeth and get in bed. No being easy. No having fun. Certainly no laughing. Just get your arse in a prostrate position. Now. If you don’t my head will blow off and there will be crying. Maybe you, maybe me, maybe all of us.
I used to be open to discussion. I liked to talk things out. I enjoyed a good hammering out of ideas. Now? There is nothing I enjoy less than a prolonged discussion about pretty much anything. Especially if it involves my child trying to convince me of why my rules are foolish. I say one thing, and she says, “BUT…” and I know things are about to get really ugly unless I shut. It. Down. And then she screams at me, “You are not letting me SPEAK.” And I am like, “Oh, you noticed that? Speaking is the opposite of what I want you to be doing.” Apparently turning four turns you into Gloria Allred. The child will try to discuss terms for anything and everything. Listen Sister…I didn’t get in this game to spend my days negotiating chocolate, dirty shirts, and using a hammer with someone who cries when I make her wear the wrong color hair clip.
The most interesting part of the sociological study that is parenthood? My husband and I seem to have switched roles. I am now the keeper of the rules. The enforcer. The mean one. I have always been nice, but kids have changed me. I am no longer so concerned with being nice, and more concerned with everyone staying alive.
I wonder if I will go back to the old me when the kids are out on their own. Or will 20+ years of being this weird Type A hybrid completely squelch my happy-go-lucky-ness? Hopefully, when there are no lunches left to pack and no one to yell at for taking their shoes off in public, I can go back to having sparkly balanced chi and a zest for smiling and spontaneity. Until then, I will be the angry woman wrestling tiny people into coats they don’t want to wear while flipping through the fifteen imaginary calendars in my head to remember what the letter of the week is and what day we have flu shots. Actually, I suggest you hold off interacting with me until my late 50’s unless you want me to yell at you to finish your dinner and flush the toilet.