Remember how I was just touting the awesome that is my hubs in honor of Father’s Day this last weekend? Part of my motivation in doing so, beyond giving him a virtual high five, stemmed from knowing I would need to channel him for the first half of this week while he was away on some crazy math related thing (how’s that for descriptive/concrete language?!). Being the only parent on duty 24-7 for three Littles still in The Tunnel is no joke (especially while growing a fourth), and since he left, I have done my best to remember to play, enjoyed being the temporary favorite, and tried my gosh-darn-very-best (which was a total flop yesterday) with bedtime.
In addition to being very much tired, I am also very much ready for him to be home. That being said, the solo-stint has not been complete chaos. We managed a couple park playdates and some backyard fun (with some much-needed morning PBS naps for Mom each day), and everyone got fed and washed and slept, one way or another, in Dad’s absence. I even woke up yesterday morning with an “I’ve got this!” mentality, which thankfully (mostly) stuck around the rest of the day, at least until the Witching Hours struck.
Oh, the Witching Hours. Define them as any specific time you want (maybe they strike earlier or later in your household), but I’m betting you all know exactly what I’m talking about…that 1.5-2 hours in which you, your kids, your dog, your entire world is pretty much just Done with any given day. And usually everyone is tired and hungry/hangry at this point, for added fun. For the Welschies, The WH strike shortly after 5 p.m. and last until the kids are asleep, usually no later than 7. Two hours. How bad can two hours be?
Maybe you should ask Ben. He managed to call home last night to say “goodnight” to the kids in the middle of what was easily the worst 15 minutes of our entire day and could instantly tell by my tone of voice that all was not well. I wasn’t so mad I was yelling and seeing spots (those days are, gracefully/thankfully/hopefully! pretty well gone for me), but I was pretty frickin’ flustered because I’d run upstairs to take care of something in LT’s room and come back down to discover that HD & RL had let themselves outside and were running around the house, looking for me. Not entirely life-threatening but still, there was definite finger-pointing with much frowning involved, a raised voice, and the words “I don’t care” coming out of my mouth as they explained what they were doing out there while I marched them back inside the house.
And that, my friends, is a flat-out lie.
I very much care. And I realized something today when I found myself, again in the damn WH, hollering at them (while again on the phone w/ my dear husband who must be greatly impressed with my solo parenting skills by now but who should also probably stop calling during said WH) for messing around on the stairs. I was terrified that one or both or all three of them were going to fall down the entire flight and break something/everything, whatever the worst case scenario could be, just like yesterday when visions of cars not seeing them in the street or strangers nabbing them danced in my head when I realized they were no longer in the house.
Here I am scared out of my mind that something awful is going to happen to one of my babies and how do I handle it? I raise my voice. I jab my finger in the air. I say through clenched teeth, “That is NOT a safe choice!” I send them to Break in the Action. I freak out and I yell, because I am afraid of what might happen. I am yelling in the name of fear, and while I can do my best to rationalize or justify it, it still doesn’t feel great.
Now, telling them “Sweetheart, I love you. Please stop being a complete wild maniac with your siblings on the stairs” does not really seem like the answer either, but I figure there has to be a happy-medium somewhere. It is my job to set boundaries and keep them safe (and hopefully, please, unbroken) but also to make sure they know I love them, even when the choices they make are less than awesome. Yelling does not fit into this equation, even when I’m concerned about safety.
So I’m going to do my best to put my finger-jabbing-the-air ways away while also striving to not let anxiety take over when I encounter a potential OSM (oh-shite-moment); I do not want fear to be a driving force in our lives and like so much in this parenting gig, that message carries from the top down.
Holding on, holding dear to the ones we love matters. But screaming and squeezing too tight ultimately guarantees nothing. Surely that Happy Medium can’t be forever elusive, right?
Did I also mention I’m ready for B to be home?