Welcome Mamma Crew! Today is Mamma Thursdays when it’s all about us! The mammas!
So recently I was asked a very interesting question. The question began with the statement, “You’ve snapped at the kids. Is that the kind of mother you want to be?”, and initially when I heard the question my heart cringed. I had that guttural emotional reaction.
No! That’s not the kind of mother I want to be. Absolutely not! And then I thought of my day. So, I wake up at 5:30 because as I shared with you before, I need to lose weight so I wake up at 5:30 so as not to disrupt the family and I go for a walk and after a mile and a half walk I come back inside and I record my podcast. Around 6:30, I go up and I take a shower and then after I’m ready I come back downstairs.
Okay and let’s face it, getting ready right now during the flu crisis is really easy. Shower, no make-up, put on clean clothes, come downstairs, try to do something with my funky, curly hair and that’s pretty much it. So, I wait. I wait for the kids’ alarm to ring. I don’t wake them up one minute before the alarm rings.
The alarm rings at 7:00. Okay, now before you ask me the question “Why are you up at seven during this crisis when you could be sleeping in?” Well, that’s because I run a homeschool co-op and right now that we have this crisis going on, I have been still handling the co-op through Zoom. Now, I have been doing this for three years and it has gotten old to be honest with you. Okay? I’m tired and all the kids have reached that difficult pre-teen years and they are no longer the wonderful cute kids that they used to be. They’re the difficult teenagers that only they can be and if you have teenagers you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, enjoy these years because they’re coming.
But I keep doing it because of the girls and every year I ask them, “Are you ready to be done with this?” And every year their answer is “No, no. I want to be with my friends”. So, if we were homeschooling our own, we would probably be getting up at 9:00, 10:00 doing our thing. We like to work late, we’re all night owls. But instead, we are getting up at the crack of dawn.
So, as I said, back on point, the 7:00 am alarm goes on and I go in and I wake up the kids and come back out and start breakfast. Now, I give it about 5 to 10 minutes, go back to the bedrooms. Emmi is usually down her loft bed but Andy has gotten back to sleep. Yes, she did get off the bed. Yes, she did turn off the alarm but you’re right. You got it. She’ll climb back into bed. But I have the absolute best intentions and my intention is we’re not going to start the day fighting. We are going to start the day on a good note. I’m feeling energized. I did just walk a mile and a half and so I nicely asked her to “Please get out of bed and get ready for her day.” But does she? So, I go back to doing breakfast. Go check on Dora and Bug and they’ve also fallen asleep again and they’re back in bed. So, again, I take the same approach and I say, “Please get out of bed”, and they do and back down the stairs I go because yes, my twin girls are downstairs and Dora and Bug are upstairs. So, back the stairs I went with my bad knees and you got it. Emmy has done what she’s supposed to. She is getting ready but Andy, oh Andy. She’s back in bed and she isn’t just back in bed. She is full on sleeping. Again. Oh man. Let me tell you, if this was the first time, I’d be okay. If it was the second time something like this happened, I’d be okay. Fourth, fifth, even sixth time, I would be okay. But it’s like this every single morning. No exceptions and right now, I have to be on Zoom by 8:00 am. Not that it matters because before I had to be physically in the co-op by 8:00 am. It was the same thing. I could go into her bedroom six, seven times, tell her to get up. Be completely nice. Not turn on the light the way she doesn’t like it turned on or turn on the light the way she hates it because you would think she’s a vampire. Doesn’t matter. She goes back to bed. So, not surprisingly, I snapped! Okay.
I snapped and I screamed, “Didn’t I ask you to get out of bed? Get out of bed!” and of course, she looks at me with these wounded eyes like how could I possibly, possibly do this to her? I’m ruining her day. She’s starting off on the wrong foot and I never stopped to wonder, how can she do this to me? How can she, knowing that I want the day to start on a good foot, having gotten the rest of the family up, having just made a nice breakfast, instead of saying, “Here, eat some cereals.” She does this every single morning. But of course, nobody asks “Is this the kid you want to be?” Somebody does ask, “Is this the mother you want to be?” Hmmmm.
Okay. So, the kids are up. They’re screaming. Bug, who is four going on five decides he needs help getting dressed. Why? I don’t know. He suddenly lost his hands and couldn’t find them. Can’t find his clothes in the drawer where they are always found and can’t seem to pull them up, his pants, or put on his shirt. It’s, “Can’t do it! This is very difficult! Really challenging!” I must have put the clothes someplace else. And then I have to deal with all the kids in the co-op. Now, before I complain about them because that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I want you to know that I love them all and I love them dearly and they’re all lot of fun but like I said, they’re all entering that difficult stage right now and despite that fact that they know what they’re supposed to be doing every day, it’s like, “Oh! Is today History? Let me think about where I can find my Cornell notes” or “Am I really supposed to open that document?”. “Really?” “Yes, because today is History”. “You didn’t tell me that today is going to be History”. “Okay, why do I need to tell you that today is History? On this day, it’s always History. On this day we do this, on this day we do that, on this other day we do this”. “Oh, really? Oh, okay”. And of course, they say wonderful things. One of my favorite ones was a recent one. We’re starting to read the book “The Outsiders’ ‘, and typically what we do is we read the book, we do the novel studies, we write an essay, we do Cornell notes and at the end, if there’s a movie, we would watch the movie together. Of course, right now we can’t do that but one of the things we decided this time that we’re going to do is, we’re going to read the book first, I’m sorry, we were going to see the movie first. Okay. And so, I say to the kids, “Okay, you can find ‘The Outsiders’. It’s not on Netflix but you can find it on Amazon and you can find it on Vudu and if you need to rent it, it’s only going to be 4 bucks. If you decide to buy it it’s like 10 dollars.” So, come the following Literature day, now mind you, we took a week for Spring break. So, they’ve had to weeks in which to see this movie. One of the kids says to me, “Oh, aren’t we going to watch the movie before we begin the book?” And I’m like, “Urrrggh, yeah. You were supposed to have seen the movie during your break and now we can be in the book”. “Oh! You didn’t say anything to us.” Breathe. Breathe. I’m going to hyperventilate one of these days because I keep telling myself, “Breathe, breathe.” And of course, I said to the kid, “I said, you needed to do this. You need to watch the movie before we came back. I even reminded you, you can find it on Vudu, you can find it on Amazon”. “Oh, okay.” Silence. I love it when teens give me silent treatment. Urrggghh, and I stepped away from the computer and when I came back, she’s complaining. She’s saying to the other kids, “Oh, but she didn’t tell us, did she? I don’t remember her telling us” and the other kids are like “Ahhh, yeah. She did. She did tell us.” “No, she did not.” They have selective memory. Now, the thing about this particular situation is because I’m dealing with a group of kids that are all going through the same thing, it makes me feel a little bit better about my kids because I know the way they’re behaving is not special. It’s a constant reminded that they’re completely normal.
Not that that makes it any better. Okay? So, by 1:30, they’ve had lunch, they’ve been homeschooled, everything’s ready and it’s time for Bug and mom to take a nap. My favorite part of the day, the nap. And we cuddle up and we take our nap, right? And frankly by then, I’m exhausted. Not just because I’m B12 deficient, not just because I got up by 5:30 in the morning, not because I’ve walked a mile and a half, but because the kids suck the energy out of me. So, I wake up. There’s lots of things to do because you know as moms, there’s always some things to do. There’s laundry to pick up. There’s this, there’s that and the girls are old enough to do their laundry but right now I’m not having them do it because like everybody else, I’m trying to conserve resources and it takes them two days to do small load of laundry and it takes them like five loads to do a small load of laundry. So, I think of the water and the detergent that gets wasted and I’m like, not right now and I make dinner and I get ready for the next day at the co-op and I do the grading and all of that stuff, right? Now, it’s after dinner. Usually we have dinner around 5:00 and it’s 6:00 and we have a chore chart right in front of our common area in the freezer.
Now, they know what they’re supposed to do every day. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, one of them sweeps, one of them uses the Swiffer Jet, and the other one takes out the trash. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, one of them has to clean the dining room table, the other one has to wipe down the rest rooms, bathrooms, the other one has to take out the trash. Now, yes, I’m about to sound like my mother. At their age, I did it all and I did it every day. And, in addition to that, I did the laundry and I have to wake up at 4:00 in the morning to make lunch for my father, get ready for school, do my homework, you know the typical thing. And no one had to tell me to do it. I knew that was my responsibility but here, I have to set an alarm on my iPhone so that I remember to remind the kids to do their chores. Well, because I forget everything. Yup, I’m in my fifties. So, the kids haven’t done their chores yet and I have to remind them that they have to do the chores and I have to remind the kid that is doing the sweeping, that yes, the bathrooms also need to be swept, and yes, I need to remind the kid that is taking out the trash that, “You need to put new trash bags in the trash cans.” It’s just what I have to do despite the fact that yes, they know our routine and they do it every day. Now, 7:00 my alarm rings and it’s time to remind them that they need to take a shower. Now, you would think by this point, the day is winding down, but oh no, far from it. I have an hour or two of nagging and isn’t nagging fun? I bet you had a lot of fun when nagging them. They certainly start to think it’s my favorite pastime. So, what happens, I tell Emmi and Andy, one of you needs to get in the shower. Now, I start this process at 7:00 and they share the bathroom downstairs. The nice thing about this tiny little condo is that it has three full bathrooms. So, “Okay, get in the shower”. “I’m coming!” Ten minutes later, “Get in the shower.” “I’m coming!” Ten minutes later, yes, thirty minutes into this, “One of you needs to get in the shower.” “I said I was going.” “Yes, you’ve been going for the last thirty minutes but somehow you managed not to get there. Get in the shower!” Okay, get one of the kids in.
Now Dora. Okay. Her shower time is 8:00 and the alarm goes off. “Go upstairs. Why haven’t you gotten into the shower?” “Oh, the shower? I need to get in the shower?” “Ah, yes? You need to get in the shower” “Oh, I didn’t know it was time for me to get in the shower.” “Excuse me? 8:00 is always the time for you to get in the shower. That is your shower time!” Back downstairs, one of the twins had barely made it out of the shower. It’s now around 8:30 and now it’s my job to nag the other twin to get in the shower. It’s exhausting. Nagging is exhausting. And then of course Bug needs to get in the picture. “Get in the shower.” Now, Bug is easy. Okay. In the sense that as soon as he gets in the shower, he’s going to take that shower.
He comes out. His hair is going to be dried and he’ll hit the bed and as soon as he hits the bed, he’s asleep. And typically, it’s not a problem because he knows he needs to get in the shower after Dora but lately, he doesn’t want to get in the shower. He says he needs help. Except he hasn’t needed help for months. But now he needs help. And can’t Dora, please help him. “No! Get in the shower!” So, what should take about an hour with four kids, of shower time, begins at 7:00 pm and doesn’t typically end till around 9:00. And then that last piece of nagging for the day begins. “Go to bed.” And I try to end the day with good intentions like I try to begin the day with good intentions. Kisses, hugs, good night. Nevertheless, it usually takes me an hour to an hour in a half to get everybody in bed, with lights off. Now, before you ask, “Have you ever tried to get them to bed earlier?” Yes, I have and that was a futile effort too.
When they were very young, the bed time for the twins was 8:00 but it was difficult to stick to it because back then, they used to go to traditional private school and they left so much homework that usually they would get home around, I’m going to say 4:30 because they usually had some kind of lesson immediately after getting out of school. You know piano lesson, voice lesson, play date, something and by the time we got home, we got to dinner, they couldn’t get to bed till 9:00 sometimes 10:00 because of the homework. Now, they have plenty of time in which to do homework during the day. That’s another nagging story. I call it my nagging story because of course I have to nag them to do the work but no they just, I don’t know what it is. It didn’t matter. It was like this prior to the lockdown and it’s like this during the lockdown. It’s just the way it is. They fight going to bed. So, I have been nagging the kids for over twelve hours and it’s like this day in and day out. Of course, I’m full of those wonderful parent moments that make it all worth it. But jeez wheeze, you know.
So, is this the kind of mother that I want to be? A mother that can lose her temper, a mother that nags. And the answer to that question is yes. Absolutely. This is exactly the kind of mother I want to be. Why is that? Well, because nagging works and Science says so. Study after study finds out that the more you nag your kids, the more successful they will be later in life. Isn’t that amazing? Nagging is good for them. Gentle discipline isn’t always effective. I mean I don’t know about you but there’s been tons of times I’ve tried the nice approach. The “Could you please do this?” “It would be really nice if you did this.” “It would be so helpful to mom if you could do this.” And yes, I’ve tried the love and logic approach too and it does work. I love that program. Love and logic. Where there’s a consequence to every action. Right? You don’t do this? This is not going to happen. But I have to be honest with you. I’m not perfect and I don’t always have the patience to do it day in and day out. And one thing that I know some parents forget, I sometimes forget it myself but the fact of the matter is, I’m not their friend, I’m their mother.
And yes, I can be understanding and I can commiserate with them and I can help them out and listen to their crisis and I’m still the bottom line of their mother first. First and foremost. My job, as their mother is to love them and to help them be the better version of themselves that they can be. It’s to help create self-sufficient, happy adults that could contribute to society and if I have to nag for the next five years, I guess I’m okay with that. I just hope they give me a nice nagging diploma and they graduate from high school; I graduate from nagging. A nice diploma that I can put on my wall. Hope you get a diploma too. In the meantime, just remember, kids can suck the nice out of you and forgive yourself for being such a nag.