I opened the bathroom door and a cloud of steam whooshed into the hallway. I usually hate to keep it all the way closed because of how warm it gets in there, but tonight I tried to sneak in a shower right after bedtime. The baby was sound asleep in my room, snug in his crib right next to the bathroom wall, so every effort to keep the sound down was being made. As my eyes got used to the dark hallway, I noticed that my bedroom door was wide open, as was the kids’ bedroom door. Wrapped in towel and dripping with anger along with the water from my hair, I hurried to shut the first door as one of the kids came back out of the other room. Guilty was written all across their face and they dashed off a lame excuse about wanting to make sure the cat wasn’t in there and and and . . . As they rambled on in the shadows of the nightlight, I added a long, unhurried, who-cares-what-kids-are-up shower to the list of things I’ll enjoy once M finally comes home again.
It’s been nearly an hour since then and my hair is still wet, I’ve put the baby back to sleep once, shushed other kids in the hallway twice, and threatened hard labor tomorrow three times if they don’t shut it and stay in their beds. Every night we go around and around and they show me just how little respect there is in this house right now. Things were going so well and then attitudes have been in a straight downward spiral over the last two weeks or so. I see the baby far more at night that I would ever like to and I’m sure that has a lot to do with how I’m dealing with the other three that are so intent on pushing my every last button. But, when the dark circles under my eyes are big enough to warrant their own zip code from three, four, or even five hours awake at night, those last shreds of striving to be the patient mother snap under the tiniest bit of pressure.
I keep catching myself thinking “Ugh! The baby/Tater/MJ is just being THE WORST. Tater/MJ/Miss E weren’t this bad at this age at ALL!” And I’ll stew about it and stress about it and loose my temper over it. Then, a few hours later, when the dust has settled, I’ll go ahead and let myself remember that, oh yes, they have all been THE WORST at something. Tater stress tested every thing in this house constantly, with the same force and consistency that ZZ opens doors and drawers and picks every child lock. And MJ used to hit the same late afternoon wall the Tater does, turning into a hurricane of emotions that ended in a teary nap that screwed up bedtime. And I know Miss E flipped out in exactly the same way that MJ does about clothes and friends and homework, settling in to the fine line of first grade being real school compared to kindergarten. I know all this and I see all this and somehow it still doesn’t take the weight off my shoulders and the sting of tears out of my eyes when all I wanted was a shower and maybe a few extra minutes of the evening to myself before being called back to duty.
I tell myself every night to be mindful and to go to sleep early and to simply just let it go. Tomorrow is a new day and new beginnings! But then I find myself texting the husband memes of having zeros fucks left to give by 8am. And dashing off hurried sentences in a display of letting it out or stewing on it for hours while I coax ZZ back to sleep. Tomorrow will be a better day. Next week will be a better week. And next month better be a better month. Or something along those inspirational lines . . .