I am on the floor of the bathroom. The door is locked and I am playing Word Weasel on my phone. I am hiding from the 8-year old. Despite having thousands of dollar worth of toys in her room, she is unable to play by herself. We had fun today, playing 20 games of Trouble (she won them all), drawing, reading, and playing at least eight games of Hullabaloo (the GREATEST kids' game ever invented!). I'm tired. She's been
Moments like this used to throw me when I had only one child. I used to retreat to the bathroom is a storm of frustration and tears, swearing that I was THE WORST MOTHER WHO EVER LIVED. Now, after 13 years of parenting, I understand that I am normal and I am sure there is at least one other mother going through the same thing at this very moment.
Parenting is fun and wonderful and bittersweet, with the growing realization that the kids will only be little once and will, someday, not need you. Today is not the day. Diva has not been able to spend one minute without me; she has also worn down the patience of her father, who is in his office paying bills and is not to be disturbed. She knows better than to pester her teenage brother who is on Skype with his friends. So, once again, she's after me.
“Moooooommmmmmy!” The wail comes from downstairs. My daughter is neither sick nor hurt. She is frustrated because I am not at her beck and call. The sound comes closer and closer (cue in the suspenseful horror movie music). I sigh; my peace is about to come to an end. “Mommy! Come out here!” she demands. I tell her no, Mom is in a time-out. “I need my space,” I tell her. Predictably, this is not received well. She's now yelling and banging on the door. The tantrum escalates. I hold my ground. I am NOT coming out.
Suddenly it gets quiet. I'm not worried. As I said, there are two other people in this house so if there really was a problem, she could easily go to them. A slip of paper touches my foot. “You are mean,” it says. Well, at least she's in touch with her feelings. “Write on it,” she demands. I will not engage. I hear her outside the door, scribbling on paper she has pilfered from Daddy's office. More paper comes under the door. I am expecting more declarations of anger, perhaps even an “I hate you” note. Instead, the paper reads, “I really, really, really, really” with an arrow indicating that I should flip the paper to the other side; the flip side reads “really, really love you.”
I know she does. I'm filled with happiness because she knows, without a doubt, that I love her, too. We've played this scenario out many times and I've reiterated that Mommy loves her; Mommy just needs time to herself. My daughter does not take it personally. She continues to scribble love notes to me, while I breathe and play my game by myself. In a moment, I'll come out. My self-imposed time out will be over and we'll go on to paint with water colors and get ready for school tomorrow.
Another Mommy Storm passes. I unlock the bathroom door, smile at my beautiful daughter who hugs me, and take her hand. The refugee is out and I know that I am indeed, just another, normal mom.
I mentioned the game Hullabaloo. I bought the game years ago, when my son was in preschool and am convinced, as I said above, that it's THE GREATEST GAME EVER INVENTED FOR LITTLE KIDS! It's so simple that they can play it on their own, with friends of all ages. The game consists of different colored and shaped pads you place on the floor and a main “console” with one button that plays clear-cut instructions. Basically, you go from pad to pad; sometimes you dance on the pad, other times you contort into Twister-like positions or pretend you're playing a musical instrument, etc. The unit goes off if the kids haven't played it in a while. I used to carry it in my car because if the kids ever got bored at a relative's house or were on a playdate that they didn't get along with, I could whip it out. The game can be played indoors or out and I've even used it at parties. Today I found it in the closet and Diva, her teenage-brother, and I played it for at least an hour.
Listen up: if you have kids 8 or younger (preschool age), you MUST GET THIS GAME! It will save your sanity – trust me!