Confessions of a Middle Age Drama Queen
Dear readers, I promised you some confessions in this blog, and you’re about to get one. There was a temper tantrum in my house recently, complete with yelling, questionable language and even a theatrical door slam. It was me. I am not proud of this; the last time I behaved this badly was probably when I was a toddler.
What preceded the meltdown was a morning that went something like this: I got up early and cleaned the house while my teenage daughter slept, and my teenage son played video games. I did a load of laundry while my daughter continued to sleep, and my son continued to play video games. I made breakfast while my daughter slept and my son played video games. I tried, unsuccessfully, to wake my daughter. I tried, unsuccessfully, to get my son to come downstairs and eat breakfast. I gave up on the teenagers and the breakfast and decided to pack a bag for the beach. I could not find my son’s bathing suit; although I texted him instructions not to forget his bathing suit, he left it at his father’s house again. I searched for the sunscreen and realized that it was in my daughter’s backpack that she left at her father’s house. I looked for the beach towels. I realized that I last saw them when I packed them in my children’s camp bags, and both of them left their camp bags at their father’s house.
My son came downstairs and said that his breakfast was cold and his sister was still sleeping. We were supposed to leave for the beach an hour ago. I told my son, “Get your sister downstairs now, or I’m going to the beach by myself.” He correctly assessed that we were at threat level orange; he ran upstairs and returned with his sister. She sat down, rubbed her eyes, and said, “I’m so tired.”
His breakfast – that I called him downstairs to eat twenty minutes ago – was cold, and she was tired? Cue Mommy meltdown.
We eventually made it to the beach, and while driving there, I apologized to my children. I explained that I’m stressed out, that is not their fault, and that is no excuse for my behavior. There is no excuse for my behavior, but since it was so out of the ordinary, I had to ask myself, what was the reason?
The reason is that I’m tired. I’m tired of doing everything for everyone and trying to be everything for everyone. I’m tired of doing all of the housework by myself. I’m tired of working forty hours a week at work and then another twenty at home. I’m tired of my whole life being work, errands, and responsibilities, while everyone else is having fun or sleeping late. But whose fault is that? I make my schedule.
I am not good at asking for help. I’m not even good at accepting help when people offer it. Forever the martyr, not only will I handle all of my responsibilities, but I’ll offer to help other people with their responsibilities. I will run myself into the ground all the while with a smile on my face, never letting on that I am, apparently, on the verge of complete hysteria.
My children are sweet; they have never refused to do anything that I’ve asked them to do. If I asked them to clean up after dinner, or sort the laundry, or pack the beach bag, they would. But I never ask them. I do everything, all the time, not asking anyone for help, and then resenting them for not helping. This is not a healthy way to live.
My meltdown taught me some valuable lessons. I need to be honest with others as well as myself; I need to express how I feel in a calm manner instead of bottling my feelings up inside until I explode with rage. I need to learn to share the housework with my kids, because not only does it ease my burden but it teaches them responsibility. And I need to get over this idea that everything has to be cleaned and stocked and straightened all of the time. It doesn’t! What I want my children to remember about their childhood is not that our house was immaculate, but that it was filled with love, laughter, and a mother who knew how to enjoy her life, and not just keep the house clean(ish).
And I want them to remember to bring their bathing suits!
Are you sometimes a martyr, too? Is there something you can let somebody else help with so that you can enjoy your life more?