Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Small Tyrants Dictate Again

Yesterday was THE WORST day (sort of).  OF COURSE there are worse days, like when the croup is so bad that your child is retracting and you have to rush to the ER, or the kid falls out of bed and breaks his leg or something, or your husband has an emergency appendectomy, or you get in a car wreck… okay, there are lots of worse days, but look, this isn’t a contest, all right?  We had a bad night.  We visited the hell of “child inconsolably screaming for two straight hours.”  Then I had a bad day.  My bratty-ass children forced me to recognize that I need to make a wholesale change in my life.


Result: everything is bad, nothing is good.  The sun is shining?  Yes, but the trees are also blooming and I’m allergic.  Spring is only 20 days away?  Yeah, but between now and then we have to live through daylight saving time (did you know that the bill to abolish it in WA died?  Clearly, the people who want to keep it aren’t parents).  Everyone wants to eat dinner again, and I already made dinner last night and the night before that and the night before that.  I just bit the inside of my cheek and it hurts.  I am GOOD at being miserable because there are so many things to be miserable about.  It’s being happy that takes work, and I just don’t have a lot of fight left in me.


Poor Tony is worse off because, in addition to being up for two hours of solid screaming, he left for work at “is this even a real time?” o’clock (I refuse to acknowledge that the hours of 1 am to 5 am are even real).  And then he came home to a sobbing wife who was so upset with her children that she was ready to magically whisk them into nonexistence and go back to her former life before kids.


As I’ve mentioned before, I have been doing Baby Boot Camp for three years or so, three times a week.  I love it.  I work hard and someone pushes me to do so.  I don’t have to take my kids to daycare; they can be with me and play and have fun.  I seem to thrive with a workout program where someone else is calling the shots and there is a group of people doing the exercise with me, not to mention the encouragement and positive feedback we all give each other.


But the classes have been getting larger and larger (a great thing for the owners and instructors) and my children have been getting more and more out of control.  I spend most of class either dreading an accident or putting them in time out for breaking the rules YET AGAIN.  And when the instructors decided to tighten up the rules and I had to be more strict about enforcing them… well, the tantrums began in earnest.


Bottom line?  It’s over.  The boys don’t like it and I am so tired, so very, very tired of having to yell and cajole and bribe and threaten just to get them to behave like underfed zombies instead of enraged gorillas (good imagery, no?  Underfed zombies are terrible, but also biddable and slow and stumbling.  An enraged gorilla, on the other hand… I wouldn’t want to meet one.  And you wouldn’t want to meet my kids).  I feel like the worst mother in the world because mine are the kids who are so rambunctious as to be unsafe, mine are the kids who are always in trouble.  I am the parent who can’t control them or even teach them to be moderately respectful.  As a result, I am so, so jealous of the other parents and kids.  The other kids sit quietly in their strollers or next to the strollers and respond positively to request from their mothers.  The other mothers can work out the entire class without having to discipline their children.


But giving up this class, this thrice-weekly ritual, means that I give up on a group of friends who are like my parenting support system in addition to giving up a tough workout that has always helped me to feel strong and worthwhile.  Like, I have flappy batwings and a spare tire, but at least I can do fifty push ups in a row. 


Right now, the alternatives are to abandon any regimented fitness program and catch a run or a workout DVD whenever I have the chance (once, twice a week?  Maybe?), to go to the Y in the evenings and work out on the weights and treadmill (that doesn’t give me nearly the burn or exhilaration that I crave), to join a different gym and spend loads of money to put the kids in daycare for another hour each three times a week, or to skip dinner with the family twice a week and do the Y boot camp as well as visiting the gym on my own and trying to sneak a run once in awhile.


Maybe you don’t work out much so you don’t understand, but I haven’t gone much more than a week (save three pregnancies and delivery recovery times) since I was in my mid-twenties without regular, hard exercise.  I need it.  I need my clothes to fit again, I need the exercise to feel good, I need to be able to enjoy wine without thinking about how quickly the calories will go from lips to hips.  I am a happier, nicer person when I exercise regularly, and specifically in this sort of motivated manner: a boot camp or fitness class that constantly challenges me to be stronger, faster, better.  Maybe you don’t understand how someone could be heartbroken, to the extent of lying awake at night even though the baby is asleep (PRECIOUS, RARE SLEEPING HOURS!), trying to figure out an alternative that doesn’t make me a worse mother and wife than I already am.  Leave the kids and Tony during dinner to exercise?  Put them in daycare to exercise?  Leave Tony in the evenings (the only time we see each other) after the kids are in bed to exercise?  Not exercise and destroy all the mirrors in the house so I won’t have to look at myself?  Nothing feels good here. 


I’m not crying anymore, which is a good step in the right direction, but I still don’t exactly know what to do.  I’m going to try out the “skipping dinner twice a week” thing starting tonight and see how it goes.  Let’s hope the door/window metaphor applies and a new opportunity will appear to make me feel like this was the best thing to happen.


Kids, man.  You give and you give and you give and you give and then they take some more.


Sarah said...

I'm honestly shocked that the other children sit patiently while their moms work out. My kids wouldn't. Not that they don't have self-control, but they just need a little guidance. Could you bring a babysitter?

Amelia said...

A babysitter would be expensive and sort of defeats the purpose, you know? It's an awesome class when you only have small kids, but with big guys in the mix, it's tough.

Heather Grehan said...

Amelia, my friend, spending time with you and your family has made me feel better about myself and my parenting skills. I love your loud and rambunctious boys and how they make me feel like we (my family) are not the only ones out there like this. I firmly believe that things always change, thus we must continually adapt, change and move-on. Don't lose heart, you have a wonderful, well-adjusted, beautiful family. You will very quickly find a new/different way to continue working out and meet the changing needs of your active family. I love you guys!