The Mean Mommy Monster

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This morning the sign on our door should say BEWARE OF THE MONSTER.  The monster in our house is not in the closet or under the beds.  She doesn’t appear in the dark at night, but sometimes it’s sleepless nights of restless dogs and whiney toddlers that lull her from her cave.

The dreaded Mean Mommy Monster, everyone beware when she raises her fearsome head.  Husbands run, toddlers hide; the She Beast is ruthless.

She appears harmless, hair pulled back in an unwashed ponytail, yoga pants, and a t-shirt. You might notice she needs a pedicure, a pluck, and a wash.  Sometimes she can be appeased with successive cups of coffee or a couple extra hours of sleep, but other times there is no escaping her wrath.

The Mean Mommy Monster likes to sleep until seven a.m., but becomes fierce when she starts the day before six a.m.  She often emerges during the morning rush, clothing two toddlers, packing lunches and attempting to leave the house.  She snaps, biting words “Help Me please… We are late again! Listen! Girls!”  She speaks in cutting phrases.  She is short on patience and her temper is even shorter.

Toddlers beware! Disobedient dogs better scramble.

Today she appeared when the dog started having panic attacks at 3am.  He jumped out of bed and the mommy jumped out after him for fear the dog would wake her daughters.  The mommy tiptoed down the hall, silently shutting her three-year-old’s door and snuck back to bed.  Dog returned to bed too. 30 minutes later the dog was up, click clack nails on the hardwood floors. The mommy was up too – the dog lay down.  Hit repeat, the same scenario every 30 minutes until five a.m. when the dog jumped from bed, click clack down the hall, scratch-scratch on the daughter’s door. The mommy held her breath, praying for more sleep and that her daughter didn’t hear him. But then, “MOMMY”, and the Mommy Monster slowly crept out from under her down comforter.

“Our dog needs Xanax,” she muttered to her husband. “We have two kids under three, why is the dog keeping us up all night?”  She glared at the dog, “BAD DOG!”

Husband nodded in agreement, “We can try to keep him downstairs, but he’ll probably whine.” Quick kiss on the monster’s head and the husband escaped to work.

The Mean Mommy Monster was tired, but she wasn’t ghoulish yet.  Coffee could only do so much.  Swim class at 9am, an insulting email and the baby’s new favorite game of stripping nude after Mommy finished dressing her, unleashed the perfect storm.

The play by play, she dressed her girls, swimsuit for the big girl and a clean outfit for the little one.  She slipped out of the room to dress herself. Shrieks erupted from her children.  The baby tore off her pants, shirt and diaper. Big girl squealed, “She’s naked!” The Mean Mommy Monster emerged from her cave, half naked chasing the baby around the room as the baby screamed, “No Mama! No Diaper! No Mama! No Diaper!”

Around the room they ran, the shirtless monster yelled, “Help me pleeeease. We are late.”  They circled the room, shrieks and giggles further enraging the Monster.

Big girl munched pretend food, “I want to play,” she responded.  The Mean Mommy Monster fumed.  The Mommy Monster pulled on big girls’ clothes as big girl sat limp on the floor.

“Help Me, Please,” the monster snapped repeatedly. “Swimming is for you, it’s supposed to be fun.  We don’t have to go.” The baby pulled off her clothes for the third time and big girl laughed hysterically.

Finally downstairs, the Monster began the arduous task of putting little feet in little shoes, the baby screamed again. “I want crocs,” hysterics, “I want crocs,” at the top of her lungs.  These two-year-old tantrums pushed the monster’s limits.

“Stop,” screamed the Mommy Monster, “No Crocs, snow on the ground… No Crocs.”  Baby screamed and hit the floor in a ball of anger.  “Screaming doesn’t get what you want,” the Mommy Monster screamed back, clearly not listening to her own message.

The Mommy Monster snapped.  She tried to control her fury.  Her yelling made her kids feel bad, but she felt worse.  Her short temper ate at her on these days.  She pleaded, “Help, please, help…” but she knew her expectations were unrealistic for her two kids under four-years-old.

She strapped the baby in her seat as the baby yelled repeatedly – “Stuck, stuck, stuck!”

“That’s the point,” the Mean Mommy Monster muttered, “car seats make you stuck.”  Baby screamed and the Mommy Monster drove.

She wanted to turn around.  She wanted to go home, give up on swim class and the outside world, but she pulled into the YMCA.  They sat in the parked car. The Monster took a deep breath.  She felt bad.  She felt sad.  She felt guilty.  It had been a hard couple of weeks.  She apologized to her little girls strapped into their car seats, “I’m so sorry Mommy was so grumpy.  I was too grouchy this morning.”  She meant it.

In class, the Monster and the baby sat together on the bench, watching the big girl swim happily.  Another mother sitting nearby asked about the morning.

“It’s been rough,” the Monster replied.

“I hate those mornings,” the other mom stated.  “The mornings when you snap and the children should just get out of your way.  My acupuncturist told me that we all have these moments. Moments when we don’t like who we are or how we behave.  She said our moms had these moments too and typically we don’t remember them, so we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about them either.”

It struck me – this could be my new friend.

Her words, a relief, like ending a yoga class – Namaste – the divine light in me in me honors the divine light in you.

Or in this case, the Mommy Monster in me honors the mommy monster in you.  We are all okay.

 

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    Fajitas

    The plate sizzles, oil popping, its not a plate but a large skillet, the steam is acting as an emergency smoke signal as the waiter carries it across the dining room.  Heads turn, necks crane, a woman twists in her chair, everyone is wondering who ordered those fajitas, and where will they land?

    *****

    “Fajitas,” he comments, “I hate fajitas.”

    “What do you mean?” I ask, thinking to myself that you can’t really go wrong with fajitas.  We are in our early twenties, it may be our second date, it may be our fifth, I know that I really like this guy and he’s not bad to look at either.

    “You know, the spectacle of fajitas, where everyone turns and stares at the person in the restaurant that ordered the huge sizzling plate of food.”  He states with obvious distaste in his voice.

    I smile knowingly, “Like when you go to a restaurant for a birthday and the wait staff gathers around the table to sing Happy Birthday?”

    “Exactly, definite fajitas,” he says.

    “I don’t really like fajitas either,” I say blushing, thinking who is this handsome guy and why doesn’t he want to be the center of attention?  In an instant a part of our family vernacular is born…

    *****

    Fast forward ten years later, married, two beautiful daughters, a gorgeous basset hound, a handsome plot hound, and fajitas are still a part of our shared family language.  But the question is, do we really hate fajitas?  Fajitas are now served to us on a daily basis.  For instance:

    1)  Walking our basset hound to the park on a hot summer day, her ears flapping, her neck flab swinging, her paws, she is a walking cartoon.  Children and adults constantly asking if they can pet her, “No she doesn’t like people,” embarrassed I repeat the warning over and over.  She is the definition of fajitas.

    2)  It’s Christmas, my oldest daughter is two, the mall is swarming with holiday shoppers, we each hold her hand tightly pushing our way through the crowds, my daughter is singing ‘Hakuna Matata’ at the top of her lungs, “IT MEANS NO WORRIES FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAYS.”

    “This is fajitas,” I whisper to my blushing husband, we share a smile.

    3)  Spring break, a sunny afternoon at the park, mothers and children surround us from all sides. I’ve been in the house for a week with sick kids, but decide to stop by the park to get some fresh air.  I’m dressed like I just got out of jail, dirty, oily, and ratty.  I had no idea the park would be a social gathering, probably would have put on some nice jeans, or brushed my hair if I’d known.  It’s almost nap time, we need to leave, I give the girls the mandatory count down, “two minutes … one more minute … okay time to go.”

    My youngest starts screaming immediately, “No Mama, no mama, no mama,” building in momentum and intensity like an Italian Opera.  I scoop her up in my arms.

    My oldest whines, “My friends are still here, they’re still playing, why can’t I? I want to stay! I’m not going!”  Then she turns her pleading into the ‘car alarm cry’, shriek, breath, shriek, breath, it sounds as if I’m stabbing her in the middle of the playground.  I would scoop her up as well, but I only have two arms, a baby in one, a picnic blanket, and diaper bag in the other.  How the hell am I going to make it to the car? My blood pressure rises, sweat makes my clothes stick in ways they shouldn’t, I am the spectacle.

    *****

    Parenthood is all about fajitas, little people with their own thoughts and behaviors that no parenting strategy will ever fully control. They live without social filters as they learn societal norms and etiquette.  If a friend chooses to play with someone else, tears stream down my oldest daughter’s face.  I may feel the same way at happy hour, but I’ve learned to tone down my reaction.  My youngest squeals in excitement when she sees a slide and throws herself on the floor screaming when its time to brush teeth. My daughters behave this way in the solitude of our home, or at a “Meet the Parent Picnic” in a room full of strangers I’d like to impress. Toddlers could care less whether their parents like to be the center of attention.

    *****

    Dear Husband,

    Toddlers (and basset hounds) are the definition of fajitas. I think we’ve got to learn to live with them.  Mexican food is great, pour yourself a margarita and enjoy the ride.

    Love,

    Your Adoring WifeImage