I’m not sure if you have a higher tolerance for song remakes than I do, but if I hear one more remake of “Let It Go,” I’m going to lose my marbles.
And yet, there is much irony in my irritation, for the real truth of the song did not really register in me until Sunday. You know… the part about how I need to “Let it Go.”
See, I don’t like to let things go. I’m an A-Personality, over achieving, success driven city dweller. I will get a job when my husband loses his job. I will give everyone a very Merry Christmas despite sleeping less than six hours a night. I will be involved in my kids’ school, homework and church life. And I will make sure those kids clean their rooms and do their chores because, joy be darned, there’s something called a work ethic also. “I don’t care if your friends’ parents don’t make their kids take out the garbage or clean the dog poo. You be responsible and be part of this family!” is my mama battle cry.
On the surface, my expectations aren’t unrealistic. I know in my gut my kids aren’t being asked to do more than they can handle.
In my gut, though, I am aware that my reaction to them is sometimes too intense. How do I know this? Because it feels crappy when I can feel my pulse racing over an unmade bed — no matter how many times I’ve asked them to take five minutes in the morning and do it.
It feels awful to shove them out the door every morning like a drill sargeant to ensure we make it to school on time. “Do you have your lunch box!? … Stink, you need that permission slip! … Pip, did you brush your teeth oh my gosh what is the problem DON’T COMPLAIN TO ME WHEN THEY FALL OUT!”
To be fair to myself, I’m not this uptight all the time. It happens about once every three months, and lasts about three weeks until I get my head out of my arse. Unluckily for my family, that cycle happened in September — right after my job was downsized. Lucky for them, however, my daughter smacked me to my senses this past Sunday.
We had just finished watching a Sunday movie. It was one that I chose for us. Since “The Princess Bride” was not available for Netflix streaming, I chose the next most enlightening movie every tween child should add to their cultural tool belt: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Aware that my crankiness was hitting epic proportions
which were completely justified based on increasing tics, unemployment concerns, crap all over the house, enough Ebay items to qualify me for hoarding status, nudgy dogs because I have control issues, I had gone out of my way to keep it mellow that day.
We went to church. We swam at the in-laws. I turned off my computer and my phone. It was just me, the kids, a pit bull and a big ol bucket of popcorn on the bed upstairs as we watched two slacker teenagers fall through time. When 8:30 hit and the kids begged to let them finished the movie, I even answered a-la Ted Theodore Logan: “You have a very bodacious answer coming your way, dudes.” To which they responded a la Wyld Stallyns: full on air guitar “neeeer neeer neer!”
But then, it was time for bed.
And the complaints started.
And I walked in the room.
And there was crud everywhere.
And I couldn’t find my brush. (Segue missing? Yes, good catch.)
This is the madness that ensued. “I am tired of having to beg you to get in bed even after we have an amazing day and where is my hair brush oh my gosh I am so tired of you using my stuff without asking use your own damn brush we can’t watch movies on Sundays if this is going to happen every! single! Sunday!”
My daughter, very calmly, looked at me and said, “Mommy, we had such a great day, but it seems lately, no matter how awesome it is, when bedtime rolls around, someone always ends up crying.”
That, of course, made me cry.
And gave me a really big jolt.
The fact that it was time for bed did not keep me from hearing the wake up call.
I sat on my daughter’s bed and hugged her. I told her I heard her. I determined to knock my crap out.
Last night, as we were laughing before prayers, I informed the kids that I was three for three on the meltdowns. I thought it would be a good idea for me to have a punch card: six days punched, I get the seventh day for a free tantrum.
Stink responded a-la-a toddler, kicking on the floor. “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”
That just made me laugh. How can I be a neurotic mother with a kid like that?
So, who is with me? Who else gets on kicks where you need to find the balance between holding your ground and just letting go? What are your tricks to staying calm and being present, despite imperfection? ‘Cause let’s face it, tics or jobs, health or marriage, death or health, there is no such thing as perfection.
Until tomorrow, say it with me, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the tics I can’t change, change the tics I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”