Much like the intro to the popular TV show, the setting is idyllic: large, manicured lawns framing big, beautiful houses, panoramic views of mountains from your back deck, and a beautiful sunrise warming the horizon promising potential for a beautiful day. That’s how my day began very early on a recent Sunday. I could be on Wisteria Lane; but, ironically enough, I live off of Harmony Road. Yet, there was nothing harmonious about my house on this day.
Typically enough, my sunrise reverie paused when Child #1 quietly scampered into my bed depositing herself on my pillow claiming that her younger brother, who snuck into her room hours before, had wet her bed. “Ok”, I groggingly replied while tucking the covers around us both, snuggling, and almost drifting back to sleep again. The sun not yet fully risen, in bounded Child #2, loudly thumping and leaping into bed creating space for himself in between me and his sister. “Ok, climb in”, I said and proceeded to tuck them both in.
Here is where the chaos begins, which should be prefaced with the fact that Husband has now been up for hours (Yes, he sets his/OUR alarm to 4:30 AM for daily “alone” time) playing Madden on his Playstation (please ignore the fact that he is 35, a father of 2, and a successful engineer).
The chaos erupted when, despite a perfectly warm bed and a bedside clock reading 6:55 AM, Children #1 and #2 had no interest in sleeping (of course!) but wanted to be tickled followed by breakfast. I stretched and purred preparing to fulfill their demands (Why not? The weather looked promising and free of rain, rare in this cold month of February). Stepping into the living room with two children in tow, Husband playing his game (No welcoming acknowledgement of our presence) I continue into the kitchen to find evidence of last night’s debauchery: an empty wine bottle and glasses, sink full of dirty dishes, dishwasher waiting to be emptied, pots on the stove, counter full of clutter, and something crunchy under my feet. Knowing there will be no pleasant start to my day beginning with the perfect cup of boiling hot tea, reading, and a modicum of quiet, I ERUPT. Not that my mornings ever began so peacefully – not since Child #2 came along – but they occasionally have the potential. However, today I must get to work (clock in) in order to feed noisy, hungry children… and the work never stopped.
Cleaning up in between and after each meal, doing laundry, batting at children at my feet and clinging to my legs, yelling when my requests to “Stop jumping on furniture!”, “Stop wrestling!”, “Stop throwing toys!!”, were unheeded. Yelling at my husband to recognize my plight and wake up from his oblivion to the chaotic destruction of my pleas for order. “What would Bree do?”, I thought. Her version of Desperation involves subtlety to attain perfection. She might poison her husband or exert mind-control over her children (I wish I had Mind-Control!). I came to the realization that perhaps my brand of unsubtle demands is ineffective. If I seek Order and Bliss (Ok, I’ll settle for Peace), I must model that. If I want to combat chaos, I must not impart chaotic (sometimes feeling like psychotic) behavior.
This realization did not arrive that arduous day in February. That day ended with my having a “Mommy Time Out” with Husband eventually pitching in to assist with management of the kids. To be fair, Husband does provide help and unrequested support on many occasions. His support does not always came in the timeframe I would prefer; however, after nearly 11 years of marriage, I am still learning that my inner clock is not fully wired with his.
Weeks after my day-long tirade, I can now begin to feel more results from practicing strong yet austere demands versus screamed ones. Or, maybe its the fact that they know an eruption can occur at any moment… Mom’s an active volcano!
Now that I have my children’s attention, I am not sure how to gain my husband’s. His retreat into Oblivion is a result of a busy, stressful work schedule, the pressure of being the sole provider of his family, and his refusal to give all of his time and energy freely to his family… still holding on to the vestiges of his youth. Mothers MUST give ALL of themselves ALL of the time – it’s a job requirement and it’s the way we’re wired. It may take some Moms longer than others to realize when or how that total self-eradication occurred (I fall into that category); and, maybe some Fathers do not realize that their wives are no longer the carefree, sexy women they married. Carefree? Young children demand every ounce of your attention and listening skills at all times. Sexy? Only when I have time to bathe, dress, and have had a few glasses of wine to erase the memory of daily battles. Desperate? Every Damn Day. But, those moments when your child hugs you for no reason, smiles and says, “I love you, Mom”, peals of laughter, and funny made-up faces… these are the moments that make up for the chaos. These are the endearing moments I remember in fits of desperation.