M is for Monday and Mommy and Mean

            Monday began as days around here are wont to begin.  Toilet, blinds, diaper, cups of milk while Mommy pulled out the remains of Sunday’s pancake mix and set about making breakfast.  “May I watch?” Zachary asked.

            “You know what, Zach?  Not today.  If you get on a chair to watch, Benjamin is going to want one, too.”  Score one for Mommy.  Not yet awake ten minutes and I had already made his face fall.  Not content with that, I got angry with him for crying about it.  “Fine.  You bring a chair over and you can watch.  But I’m not going to help you.  You can’t watch every time.  When Daddy is here, we have more time, but when it is just me, I have to get you breakfast and I don’t have time to be pulling chairs all over the kitchen.”

            Zachary, all 25 pounds of him, tried to lug over one of our heavy wooden chairs.  Now, he was crying in earnest.  And I was annoyed in earnest.  Some little voice inside of me realized the sweetness of his request, so I reached over, grabbed the chair, and pulled it over for him.  Of course, Benjamin had to get up, too, and they pushed and shoved each other the whole time I was cooking. 

            Fast forward ten minutes to breakfast.  Everyone was seated at the table, with my butt in the chair the boys had used to watch the magical transformation of liquid to pancake.  The little voice inside of me was getting a little more air time, now that the masses had been fed.  And it told me I had been a grade A, class one bitch.  Zach had asked nicely, he had wanted to participate in making breakfast, and for no good reason, I had shot him down.  “He’s three, you jerk,” the voice said.  “You think maybe you could wait a year or two to make him feel like a nuisance?”

            Like I said, Monday began as days around here are wont to begin.  Toilet, blinds, diaper, cups of milk, Mommy feeling guilty because her kids deserve someone nicer.  My kids drew the short end of the stick, ending up with a rather crappy mother.  The next step is Mommy getting even more unpleasant because she feels so guilty.

            But, this was where Monday was a little different.  “I’m sorry, honey.  I got frustrated, but you did not do anything wrong.  I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”  Silence, sucking on the milk straw.  “Did it upset you that I got angry?”

            “Yes,” Zachary said.  “You hurt my feelings.”

            “I am sorry, baby.  Mommy was wrong to get angry.  Of course I should have let you watch me make the pancakes.”  All of a sudden, little Mr. Bright Eyes was back.

            An hour and a half later, I was standing in front of a group of fifteen three- and four-year-olds.  One of them was Zach.  The rest were his partners-in-crime.  I was the guest lecturer at P-xies Nursery School. 

Zachary’s school has a nifty little tradition that each Monday is Letter Day.  The children bring in an item starting with the letter of the day.  Our item is usually related to Thomas: Cranky the Crane, Harold the Helicopter, Emily the green engine.  We are learning to read steam-train style.  This week was M.  We brought in the little book about Mavis, who I believe is a cheeky young engine, but I am not sure since I totally tune out every time I am forced to read one of these books.

It’s a darned good thing that this was M day, because I was there to teach those children about Hanukkah.  Yeah.  ‘Cause I am just the person you want teaching your kid about religion.  What I bet you did not realize – and what I did not realize until this week – is just how many M words there are in connection with Hanukkah.  Miracle.  Maccabee.  Menorah.  And it’s a good thing, too, because I am pretty lousy at lesson planning for three-year-olds.  I lit the menorah and talked about Maccabees and taught them about miracles (not so easy) and read a book about latkes, which leads me to think I would have been OK had I come in last week on L day.  Zachary identified the shamesh and giggled with Timmy, who had decided for the moment that Zach was his best friend.

            Fast forward five hours.  After nap found Zachary perched on a chair, helping me prep dinner.  He turned bread into breadcrumbs by using the much-coveted food processor.  He measured olive oil.  He dumped in beans.  He stirred.

            Casserole completed and tucked in the fridge for later baking, we went into the living room.  Benjamin, we knew, would be asleep for at least another hour.  “What would you like to do now, honey?  Play with your trains or make a picture?”

            He stopped and contemplated a moment.  Zachary contemplates like a statue by Rodin.  “I want to make a picture.”  I hesitated, not sure I had heard him correctly, because I thought I heard him choosing art over trains.  “For you,” he added.  And so he used his brother-free time to make me a Hanukkah gift.  A rather abstract drawing of trains going in and out of Tidmouth sheds. 

            Ben woke up.  We took a little walk, returning in ten minutes when the cold was too much.  I read them a book together.  Each boy read a book to himself while I read a page in my book.  They played.  They watched Bob the Builder.  (Actually, Ben watched half of Bob the Builder, after which he decided that playing with trucks is more fun than watching them.  Ben has only recently started showing any interest al all in television, now that Zach is not using his 20 minutes of TV time to watch Thomas and Friends.  Apparently, even the one-year-old finds that show mind-numbing.)  The casserole, baking in the oven, filled the house with the smell of garlic and beans.

            We sat down to eat.  The boys, quickly deciding that their palates were not sophisticated enough for bean and vegetable casserole, asked for some peanut butter on their toast.  J came home.  We lit the candles.

            “How was your day?” he asked.

            Had you told me at 8:00 AM that I would answer as I did, I would never have believed you.  Because Monday, you see, ended much nicer than it had begun.

27 responses to “M is for Monday and Mommy and Mean

  1. I can so relate to feeling like a “Mean Mommy” sometimes! Especially, yesterday! Here’s to a fresh start today! 🙂

  2. Emily, congratulations. It’s not easy to maneuver and effective do-over on a Monday morning. But you did.

  3. Oh I know that “irritated mom” who responds in “let me just get this done” way and then regrets it..and then the ups and downs of the day.

    Perfect description.

    Ms. Guest Lecturer. 🙂

    Julie
    Using My Words

  4. Here’s to fewer Mean Mornings. Goodness knows I have way too many of them myself.

    You’re a good mom.

  5. Emily,

    Sometimes I just feel like I’m screaming all day at my children. I feel like a shrew. At the end of the day I’m so tired. Now I know why my mother was always laying on the couch. Though she had one not three.

    I have the same set-up as you with making pancakes. Two big wooden chairs come over to the counter and three kids volley for positions. 3 kids scream and the two boys smack each other. Then they ask….”mommy why don’t you make pancackes all the time?”

  6. Beautifully written, Emily! Just yesterday afternoon, during a “mean mommy moment,” our oldest son, had to remind me that his “homework” from morning chapel at school was to go through his day with peace in heart. I stopped in my tracks, took a deep breath, and then thanked him for reminded me that I needed to go to my room for a few minutes to find my own peace inside. When I came back downstairs to find the brothers playing with modeling clay at the dining room table, Andrew smiled at me and simply said, “That’s better, Mom.”

  7. Monday Madness happens in our house as well. Good for you for being able to turn it around. KUDOS!

    Thanks for sharing – and try not to be too hard on yourself…we all have bad days!

  8. What a wonderful story – glad your day turned around. Sounds like you have some pretty special kids…

    Thanks so much for the wonderful comment you left for CJ. He has been so touched by everyone’s messages – as have I.

    Hallie

  9. Glad you were able to turn it around and you all felt better.

    Yesterday I got lucky and actually baked a batch of cookies by myself while the kids played together!

  10. It’s those deep breath moments that matter – the ones where you take just one more minute to think about it and then you start again. Where would any parent be without the start again part? Thank goodness we can talk to our children and learn together from the mean mommy bits as well as the much better bits. It’s all a process, isn’t it?

  11. I tend to forget that my oldest is 3 too. I’m too impatient. I’ll have to try a do-over next time.

  12. We had a themed ‘letter’ day with ‘sharing day’. It became harder and harder to find something original.

    I sometimes this ‘mean mommy’ was invented as my personal emblem, but of course it would be ‘mummy’ rather than ‘mommy.’

    Glad you turned it around.
    Best wishes

  13. We are all that mean mommy sometimes, but you used it as a humble teaching moment for you and your kids.
    Well played mom. That’s admirable, you just taught your children an amazing lesson in life and parenting.
    This was a wonderful read!

  14. Are we living a parallel life?

    The other day Bean wanted to watch me make cookies. He dumped over the cup of flour as I turned to put something aside, and I got so mad, I took him off the chair and said “You’re done!”

    Of course, he stood there looking very forlorn. The flour was easy to scoop back up. He’s two and he was “helping”.

    I felt like a total creep the rest of the evening.

    I think I sense another batch coming on. With full Bean input.

  15. Don’t you just feel like a tree covered in woodpeckers some days? Congratulations on relenting and apologizing and turning a mean mommy moment into a fabulous mommy day. I wish I could do that with more of my mean mommy days (which are like every day…as my children are wont to remind me. sometimes I even am a badboymommy–especially on the day I let those dreaded two words pass my lips).

  16. Isn’t it amazing how quick we are to call ourselves “bad moms” when we are really just women trying our best to get through every day with more people relying on us than we can possibly please. I’m glad your day ended better than it began.

  17. Kudos to you for turning the day around! So many times I am irritated and grumpy with the boys and instead of turning things around they just continue to slip downhill. So glad your day ended so happily.

  18. I have mornings like these too. And times that I have done those mean mommy things. Bad of me but we are only human after all, I guess.

  19. As you know, I teach kids about religion too. And I’m just as worthy a speaker as you are. Did you sit in pee? If not, I totally got you beat.

  20. days have a way of doing that 🙂

  21. I am glad to hear that your day ended on a better note.
    I have been mean mommy, all the while hearing the voice in my head asking me why I am saying those things. Then the mommy guilt sets in. I want to be sweet happy mommy, but I feel I fail so often. Then I am reminded that no one is perfect. I love, care and provide for my children while keeping mean mommy in check.

  22. you know, it sounds like a pretty lovely day, because you made it that way. good on ya.

  23. Nice. very nice post!

  24. I feel like this a lot.

  25. i am a total bitch in the mornings and not just mondays!

    and you know what? the fact that you apologized to him is SO important. he’ll love you for it.

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