Stress is SuperMom's Cryptonite
There are days where I feel like I'm getting the hang on this Mommy thing. That's how it should be, I've been at it 5 glorious years, I'm bound to get it sooner or later, right? Then there are days where I realize SuperMom is not so super strong after all. Every superhero has their weakness. It's what makes them relatable. I do not believe I'm alone in having my weakness be stress. It is my undoing.
I'm a Mom who works outside the home. (I don't like the term "working mom" because, honestly, have you met any "mom" that doesn't "work"? That lazy feet-on-the-couch-soap-opera-watching-bon bon-eating Mom is to me a little like Big Foot. Never spotted her.) I work full time outside the home, have a 45 minute each way commute, and then I try to pack a full days worth of cooking, cleaning, homework supervising, bathing, playing, story reading, car crashing, bad guy bashing, yardwork completing, family meal doing into a few precious hours after work. My kids are still young, so they go to bed relatively early. That means the time to get it done for them is very small. Like Alice trying to crawl through the rabbit hole small. When they go to bed I shower, fold laundry, pack lunches for kiddo and me, pay bills, get my gym bag ready, then collapse into bed in a comatose state.
The result of this whirl wind schedule? Stress. Stress for myself. Stress in my marriage. Stress in my parenting. Am I getting it right? Am I messing them up? Am I spending enough time with them? Am I feeding them healthy enough meals? Am I spending enough time with hubbie? Am I getting the house clean enough? Am I getting time for myself? There's just never enough of me. Like, ever. And when I get overwhelmed, my parenting skills go down the toilet.
Case in point: this past weekend. Fun filled weekend planned. Boo at the Zoo event Friday night. Kids in their costumes haunting the zoo packed with family entertainment and adorable animals. Slight rain could not dampen our enthusiasm. It was a blast. Great night. Late night, but great. Saturday we had an early birthday party at a bounce house place nearby that we all love. I mean L.O.V.E. They played til they were exhausted, then stuffed their faces with pizza, and pure sugar. This is where things began to unravel. Towards the end I saw the sugar high in their eyes. They are not used to that much sugar. Sugary punch, cupcakes layered with crazy amounts of sugary frosting, and grab bags filled with...you guessed it! Candy! They held it together at the party, but erupted before I was finished strapping them into the car eats. They were so bad in the car my head was spinning, green smoke erupting from my ears...and I yelled. I mean YELLED. Way to teach self control, Mom! Getting mad was justified. My reaction? Not so productive.
We get home and I throw myself into preparing for a Halloween get together we were hosting that evening. After a schedule more packed than usual during the week NOTHING was ready for this party. House was a mess, food not prepared ahead. I even had all our family room furniture still sitting in the middle of the floor after we'd had to move it the weekend before and hadn't finished. Hubby was not able to be home, kids were not only not cleaning like they were told they were making a bigger mess and mouthing off, now crashing hard from their sugar high. Again the yelling. Not a fan of the yelling. It is simply not productive. I know this as I'm doing it. I was almost shrieking.
The problem, I was frustrated by the situation. Frustrated by the fact I had been unable to clean all week. Frustrated that hubby wasn't there, even though I understood why he wasn't. Frustrated that they were too young to be much help. Frustrated that they were not only not helping, they were a hindrance. And I was frustrated that I felt so frustrated. I set a terrible example of how to respond to a tough situation. Is it any wonder that when faced with a difficult situation my kids yell? Gee, wonder where they get that from?
The party went well, if completely chaotic. The kids were still hopped up on sugar. Add costumes and friends to the mix and it's a recipe for madness. But they had fun, and I had friends of my own to commiserate with. Sunday was detox day. No more sweets, you've had enough. Structured nap time, and no coming out early, you're going back in. Repair the damaged playroom. Mop floors. Get in a workout to burn off stress. Our youngest did not bounce back so well. Overtired from 2 late nights and little napping he was a 2 year old cranky old man. Every little thing had him prone on the floor weeping his little heart out. Drama city. Went to bed crying. Woke in the middle of the night crying. Woke up in the morning still crying. Mommy was so happy to go to work today.
As I look back, I realize SuperMom was undone this weekend. What should have been a recipe for fun family time became more stressful and tense than necessary because of how I reacted. Was I right to feel frustrated? Of course! Did I handle it well? Um....not so much. I missed a teaching moment with my boys. I look back on myself and cringe. I wonder if I've damaged them for life. Probably not, but if I continue down this path I could. I need to find better ways to manage the stress. I need to show them you can take a tough situation and problem solve to a solution.
But the secret of every superhero? The one that makes them a superhero? They always pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes, and come back fighting and strong. So that's what I'm doing today. Starting with a clean slate, hopefully a little bit wiser, and coming out fighting. Because my kids, my marriage, and my own sanity are just that worth it.