Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
So, have you ever had the mom meltdown? I had one yesterday. You know, the irony is that when you’re two years old, the meltdown comes with a lot of energy, right? Your toddlers throw themselves on the floor, and they’re kicking, they’re screaming, and they’re just carrying on. But when you have a meltdown as a mom, it’s the opposite. Right
What happens with the mom meltdown? You literally feel like butter just melting. You are melting by the heat of all the responsibilities and commitments you have. And you’re thinking to yourself, “Why? How did I ever get myself into this position?” I know I was thinking that last night. And I was thinking to myself, “Did I really need to get married? Did I really need to have children? Did I really need to adopt two more? Why do I keep doing this to myself?”. And then, of course, I snap out of it right away, and I think to myself, “Well, I love my life. I love my husband. I love my children.” But that doesn’t mean I don’t get overwhelmed sometimes, that there aren’t just days that it’s just too freakin’ much! It’s too much!
How are we as women supposed to take care of our children, our husbands, ourselves, and our homes? And not have a meltdown now and again, right? And I don’t know about yourself, but I expect a lot from me, okay? I expect that I’m going to get it all done, and I expect that I’m going to have individualized time with everybody.
So, let’s start with the most time-consuming aspect of my day, which is my kiddos. Nevermind the fact that they never get up on time. They don’t do what they are supposed to do in the morning. Nevermind that I’m running around after them trying to get all of those things accomplished. I homeschool; I’ve been homeschooling since the twins were in the third grade, and I’m one of those people that I’m never satisfied with other people’s curriculum. I always have to adopt change. So, I’m creating a curriculum all the time. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m a retired professor, and I just feel I must take ownership of everything.
So, a big chunk of my time goes into that, and there’s the actual teaching. And then, well, I have to make sure that they eat a nutritious breakfast, and you would think that I could trust my three thirteen-year-olds to have a nutritious breakfast every morning, but no. No! They’re doing things like trying to get away with just eating a banana and milk, or “I ate breakfast mom,” but there are no dishes on the sink. And then, of course, there’s my five-year-old Bugaboo; thankfully, he’s not a picky eater, unlike the twins with their acid reflux and gastrointestinal challenges.
And so, breakfast and then there’s some teaching that goes on, and grading that’s going on, and then there’s lunch. Now, lunch is the same thing that is breakfast, you should, you could. Every once in a while, I dream that they can actually pull lunch together by themselves, but it never happens, okay? If I let Andy make her own lunch and don’t question anything, she’s going to be doing, and she’s either going to be having ramen, ramen, or ramen. Yes, why do I get it for her in the first place? Well, cause it’s supposed to be a special treat that she has, like, once a week cause she loves the junk! But instead, I have to have pre-cut fruit, pre-cut vegetables. Anything I want her to eat, it has to be already done. And of course, I have to keep an eye on her and make sure that she’s actually having protein because she does take some (not a lot, to be honest with you) ADHD medication, which functions better if she has protein in her stomach and protects her stomach from the medication which can be rough sometimes.
Dora is better about it. Emmi, it’s a fifty-fifty proposition. She is going to pretend that she doesn’t need to eat. Why? I have no idea; she’s not worried about her weight; she’s not that picky about vegetables. I mean, there’s a lot she can’t eat cause she has gastritis, but she’s really not that picky. So, I’m going to be honest with you, I think it’s just laziness! She doesn’t like cooking. She says she’s no good at it. But how can you be good at something you never want to do? Bugaboo, that’s another story; I make his lunch, not a big deal. He’s a five-year-old.
And then there’s more homeschooling. There’s grading, and there’s preparing for the next day’s lessons, especially Math, because well, I hate Math. I don’t care if I have a Ph.D., and I had to take advanced statistics. I hate math, and it’s one of those things that went in my head and out the other side. So, I’m always having to review Math. And sometimes, it takes me five minutes to go, “Duh! That’s so easy!” But it takes me those five minutes to remember. Sometimes I’m looking right at it, and I’m going, “Hmmm. Hmmm. I know that I did this once upon a lifetime.”
So, and there’s dinner, okay? And I make dinner every day, and I try to make an early dinner. I try to get served by five cause, well, it’s good for digestion, and frankly, it helps me get out of the way. Oh, let me backtrack. In between school being done and dinner, I take a one hour nap. Why do I take a one hour nap? Well, cause I have so many physical ailments that frankly if I don’t take that one hour nap, I’m useless for the rest of the evening. I’m like a walking zombie.
So, I do that. And the thing about it is that often when I take this nap, I’m super frustrated with myself because I didn’t need to take a nap in my twenties, I would never have taken a nap in my thirties, and in my forties, I could push through it. But after my last surgery, it was when I turned fifty cause it ruined my fiftieth birthday. I was supposed to go on a trip to Paris, but it never happened.
So, instead, I was in the hospital. That was the last straw. My body now says, “You must take that one hour nap. You want it, don’t want it. You have other things to do. Too bad, so sad. You’re gonna have to take it because otherwise, you’re not gonna be able to function for the rest of the day.” So, I take this nap. I’m either frustrated or angry with myself because I need this hour to do other things.
Then I get up, and I make dinner. We eat dinner as a family. Now, I have to be honest with you, we’re one of those families for whom the dining room is a useless proposition. We don’t like eating in the dining room. We like sitting on our couch, all of us crowding around eating. And our favorite show is The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family. And we laugh, we tease each other, and we talk about our day. And there are some episodes that we’ve seen fifty bazillion times, but we still put them on. They still can make us laugh. They still can make us talk about our days. We still tease each other.
You know, last night I was asking the girls, “So, who would you like to date? Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, or Rajesh?” Their answers were surprising! But that led into a one-hour conversation that was just a lot of fun about dating and who they like and who they don’t like, and who just hit on them. Sadness, my thirteen-year-olds are getting hit on. But it happens. They’re very pretty, all three of them.
And then, when I’m not having a meltdown, which was what I had yesterday. I had a meltdown after dinner in which I basically (after everybody left the couch) I pulled the blanket over my head, and I pretended that I was taking a second nap because I didn’t want to deal with the world. I was just overwhelmed. Sick and tired of everything! That has nothing to do with my family. It has a lot to do with the pandemic, being locked-in. It has to do with the expectations that I put on myself.
A typical evening, well, we must practice numbers with my little Bugaboo, who is in denial about learning the numbers after ten. He says, “It’s just too hard. Please help me, Mom.” And we usually read two books, and then, well, I have to spend a little individual time with the three girls, right? So, I go walk the dogs with Emmi because she owns one of the dogs, and I take the other dog. And so we go for a walk, and we talk, and I’ll make sure she’s okay. The pandemic has been the hardest on her, I think, cause she’s my total social butterfly, and this feels like a prison to her.
And I have to spend at least thirty minutes with Andy. And so I have my thirty-minute walk with one, and I have my thirty-minute conversation with the other one in which I have to try to do a rapid re-call about anything that has to do with “FNaF.” I don’t even, ugh! Let me tell you, keeping all this stuff straight when you’re fifty-four, years old, post-surgical menopause, so you don’t even have the hormones helping you anymore. It could be insane.
Luckily, she’s kind to me. She bears with me. She will explain things to me over and over again, and since this is her favorite subject, she doesn’t mind. I’m still trying to figure out her obsession with these stories. Now she’s reading me these horror stories that are related to this video game. I don’t quite understand them, to be honest with you, other than when I was her age, I used to go through phases like that.
I went through the I-must-read-every-classic-out-there. I remember reading War and Peace. Have you ever seen War and Peace? The book is about two to three inches thick; that sucker’s a humongous thing. And I remember reading it over a weekend. I just had to. Why? Who knows? So, I went through my historical novel phase, and then I went through my horror phase, Stephen King. And I always just cycled in and out.
So when my husband says, “Do you think it’s a little creepy that she’s into this stuff?” I go, “Eh… I don’t think so. I came up pretty normal” No laughing from the peanut gallery, okay?! I don’t know what normal means anymore. But I think she’ll be fine.
And Dora, Dora’s finding her way. Right now, her thing is make-up. I went through this phase with Emmi a few years ago. So, she’s totally into make-up, and she’s working things out. And so, I’m trying to spend some time with her on this, but she really shocks the shit out of me every once in a while. Like recently, when she shaved part of her eyebrow off! And I’m trying to look at it and not say, “Holy shit. Can I get hair eyebrow transplants?! We’re gonna get this girl some hairs for those eyebrows!” But she’s okay with it, and I have to remind myself, “Breath, Breath. It doesn’t matter.” I mean, I remember accidentally over-plucking, and I’m gonna be honest with you, yesterday I went to have my eyebrows waxed — my first time since the pandemic started. And of course, they gave me different shapes on each eyebrow. So, I mean, it still happens; the professionals do it too.
So, really trying to connect with her, trying to understand her, which isn’t as easy as it is with the twins because, well, I’ve had their lifetime with the twins. With Dora, we’re still getting to know each other. We’re still doing the get-to-know-each-other trust dance. And then, after they get their individual attention, the girls and I are reading Carrie by Stephen King. And it’s so hysterically funny because their perception of highschool is so interesting! Since they haven’t been into middle school or high school in the traditional sense (they’re homeschooled).
So, when they’re reading the stuff about Stephen King, they’re like, “Mom, it couldn’t possibly be like this, right?” Remember the episode when Carrie gets her first period? And I’m trying to look at them and say, “Well, things are probably different now, but things were pretty rough when I was in high school.” That was in the early, the late ’80s. Things were pretty rough. Girls were pretty mean to each other. So, just enjoying that with them.
And then, of course, after I’m done with all of that, my husband wants to give me attention, which, you know what that means when your husband wants to give you attention, what he’s really saying (in a nice way) is, “give me attention.” But I have to be honest with you, I’m so exhausted by then! Like, “Ohhh my God, I can’t do this anymore. I’m fifty-four.” But then, I see baby pictures of the girls, and I think, “Oh, I would love to have another set of twins.” Shoot me in the head. I don’t know what I think when I said shit like that.
So, I’m there, and my husband’s really nice, okay? He knows I love to have my feet rubbed. So, he will usually spend twenty to thirty minutes every night rubbing my feet, and I will spend twenty to thirty minutes every night trying to pay attention to whatever it is that he wants to talk to me about. But my challenge right now is my husband loves to watch the news. Which, I think, if this was the news in the ’60s, in the ’70s, when it was actual news, not everything being opinion-based, or everything being so bi-partisan, I would feel differently. And frankly, it’s not even that my husband has a definite party affiliation, and I’ve always been an independent (I’ve voted for both parties at any given point in my life) It’s not that! It’s just that I think the news is a bunch of crap, nothing but negativity and shit that makes you feel bad about the world and yourself.
I mean, I wished that at least once a night they would put up some positive news of something that somebody’s done. Because my goodness, let me tell you that there’s a lot of people doing a lot of wonderful things in my community. Helping the elderly, helping moms who are stuck at home taking care of their kids, and having to homeschool and work, doing meal deliveries. I mean, there’s so much wonderful stuff going on. Why don’t they put any of that stuff? So, I try to listen. I really do.
And then, somewhere in that, I’m supposed to take care of myself. And let me tell you where the taking of myself comes down to right now. It comes down to getting a little bit up earlier to put on some make-up. Not always, I’m going to be honest with you! Not all the time, sometimes! It comes to listening to audiobooks, even though I love to read, I love the feel of paper, I love the smell of paper. I don’t have time to do that. Instead, I put on my audiobook, and I cook dinner, or I put on my audiobook, and I’m grading, or whatever the case might be.
Biking, I really enjoy biking. I used to get up earlier to bike every morning, but right now, I enjoy sleeping in. But trying to do it in the afternoons, you know. Sometimes, I give myself a break and say (even though I have a million things to do), “My husband just invited me to a bike ride, so I’m going to do it.” Or one of my daughters invited me to go watch them skating, and I’m going to do that. Or yesterday, finally allowing myself, since this whole pandemic started, not to be terrified in going to go have a manicure and pedicure. No, I don’t like putting color; I’m too lazy for that, okay? I don’t want to take care of nails. But just doing that. And even though I do some of those little things, even though I get a foot rub every night (he’s so sweet!), the reality is that I still have a meltdown now and again, okay?
Since the pandemic started, I’m gonna say, one about every month where I just say, “I can’t do it. I’m done. Dad, take over. Girls help your dad. Take care of each other. I’m done.” I’m done, I’m gonna cocoon, I’m gonna read a book, watch TV, vegetate, pretend that I’m sleeping. Give up on all the responsibilities I have for the day because I need this break. I need this breath.
And you know what, don’t be so hard on yourself. That guilt that comes in and tries to sneak in and tell you that you’re being a bad mom, a bad wife. As my daughter, who’s into horror right now, would say, “Take a knife and stab it.” Stab that guilt away!
Give yourself a break when you need it. You would give it to your husband. You would give it to your kids. You would say to your friends; it’s okay. And if you would do it for those other people, if you would encourage your friends to do it, when you need it, do it without guilt.
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