“So, did you work before being a stay-at-home mom?”
“Yes, I had an office job at an online university, but in the Philippines I actually used to teach!”
Every time I have such a conversation with acquaintances or new friends, there’s a part of me that always wants to rush through the answer so that I can further qualify. Actually, whenever I answer in that way, I always want to kick myself for not coming up with a clearer response. It’s because a lot of the times when people hear the words “I used to teach”, they respond with “Oh! So you must be really good with kids!” My candid response is always an uncomfortable, “Umm, no, not really. I taught in university, college kids, not little ones. I just don’t have the patience for teaching young kids.”
I laugh, because for me, there are so many trying times as mom…
To be really honest, I feel like my son is the only child who can stand me. If we break that down, it’s easy to see that that’s only true because (A) he doesn’t have a choice, and (B) he’s had rigorous training since birth.
[bctt tweet=”What lies beyond the impatience? #momlife ” username=”jpage_manuel”]
I’m not exactly a tiger mom in the strictest sense but I will never deny that I have really high expectations of my son. I believe in structure, strict enforcement of rules and discipline. I am very affectionate with him, undeniably protective, but can also be quite harsh and short-tempered. There are days when I wonder if I should seriously consider attending anger-management programs.
Just the other night, after the second day of school, I snapped. It wasn’t exactly a zero to sixty situation although I can tell that it shocked my son when I blew up. I even shocked myself but he had it coming.
We’ve long established that he needs to go upstairs by 8 p.m. This has been our routine for at least 5 years now. He also knows that he needs to put in at least 30 minutes of reading time before bedtime which is at 9 p.m. Between going upstairs and reading, he’s expected to shower, brush his teeth and just settle down.
While eating dinner he asked if he’d have time to play on the Xbox. I said I very much doubt it and explained to him why. I went over our routine and clarified how each block of time will be spent before bedtime comes and that he needs ample sleep so he can wake up rested at 7 am and not be late for the bus. Besides, I added, he has consumed all his electronics allowance for that day.
While having dessert he asked the same thing again. I answered and gave him the same information but this time even more thoroughly than the first time.
After dinner, at around 7:55 p.m., as we were both cleaning up in the kitchen he asked me…AGAIN…this time even saying, “Are you SURE I don’t have time to play on the Xbox?” That was the final straw.
These are the trying times as mom!
I don’t remember word per word what I said but I remember feeling as if my head was going to explode. I remember my chest tightening until all the frustration got spewed through my mouth. I also remember the rage when I shouted, “DO YOU HONESTLY THINK THAT ASKING ME THE SAME QUESTION A HUNDRED TIMES WILL CHANGE MY ANSWER?! NO IS NO!!”
He froze in front of me, only for a short while but long enough for me to see his shock and fear. I was probably just as surprised as he was, surprised at how sudden my tone and demeanor changed just like that. It was faster than any of Bruce Banner’s transformations that we’ve ever seen.
[bctt tweet=”It was faster than any of Bruce Banner’s transformations…I hate repeating myself. #momlife ” username=”jpage_manuel”]
I hate repeating myself. If there is anything I absolutely loathe, despise, abhor with a passion, it’s when I have to repeat myself because I’m not being heard. It’s one thing to keep explaining to someone who simply does not have the mental capacity to fully understand, but it’s another when I’m left saying the same thing over and over simply because either my response is being rejected or just not heard.
It drives ME. COMPLETELY. INSANE.
This is a part of me I’m not proud of. Some of you might try to make me feel better by saying that perhaps I was having a bad day; or it happens even to the best parents among us. But I’ll tell it like it is…
It’s an adult meltdown. And there are days when I’m humble enough to admit that I’m having too much of it.
And just like any toddler who screams, cries or throws a tantrum, it’s not as simple as just being overly tired but also a deep hunger to be heard. It’s my need to be validated. When I’m doing my best to explain something, searching for the most appropriate words in a language that is not even my first, not my native tongue, I expect full attention and expect to be understood. When I feel that I’m already sacrificing so much, doing my best to adapt and accommodate, the least one can do is to make me feel seen and treat me like I do matter. As it is, I feel that I speak excellent English and definitely don’t speak with an accent that my American born and raised son struggles with. I don’t think some people realize that sometimes I still translate in my head from Filipino to English. It’s not always easy, especially when I’m tired or highly emotional. But I still do my best. I really don’t have much choice if I want to be understood by others, especially by my family. I do my best with them, hence I expect the most validation from them, especially from my son.
We associate Patience with the ability to wait. But more importantly, it speaks of having tolerance, and exhibiting self-restraint and a sense of equanimity. Patience is to have the capacity to graciously wait for others to catch up to our expectations. I am not the most patient person. When it comes to my parenting, I would say that I repeatedly fail at it. I just hope that more than my family simply being patient with me and my failings, they will also have the tenacity to try to see beyond the surface and hear beyond the angry cries.
*This post was originally published on Catharsis.
Joy is a writer, blogger, hopeless romantic and full-time over-analyzer who lives in Middle Tennessee with her husband and son. She was born and raised in the Philippines and was an academic who taught Sociology in that past life. You can read more of her at her blog Catharsis where she writes about navigating the world of parenting, mid-life angst and everything in between. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.