Pause Button

Today is the kind of day that makes me want to press the pause button on motherhood. No, I don’t mean pause time to stare at my children’s sweet faces. I mean press pause on being a mom. For more than two seconds I want to be free from putting others’ needs first. I want my smart-mouth seven year old to shut her pie hole and I want a child to put on their shoes the first time I ask. Wait. I want to press pause on being a mom. So, someone else make my kid put on their shoes and brush their hair. Please! Someone other than me. I’m clocking out for a few.

After tending to my child sick with the flu for six days, I feel house-bound, claustrophobic, needed, needy, irritated, and at the end of my rope. I actually love tending to my babies (ok, children as they are five and seven years old) when they are sick. I’m not a martyr type, but when my kids are sick, they are number one on my list. I usually sleep in the guest room with them to tend to them while they are barfing or needing water or Tylenol, or in the case of this last flu, checking on the fever status into the wee hours of the morning. This works pretty well since the well child and my husband remain in their rooms, so we have a semi-quarantine situation.

But today, two days after Ellie’s fever subsided, her fever was back and it was a school holiday. So sister was home. I had a great idea all figured out. We were going to wake up leisurely (but most likely by 7:30 since that is their normal weekend wake up time,) watch an American Girl movie on Amazon Prime, eat breakfast, go to the park, and have a bunch of free time. Things didn’t go as planned.

The waking up happened pretty well as predicted. But Ellie slept later and looked pretty beat. Sure enough, the fever was back. So now we added a visit to the doctor on the list. And when I suggested we stop what we were doing to have breakfast, the refusals came flying in fast: I’m not hungry. Not right now. We don’t have waffles?! Since I’ve been oozing out care and TLC for the past six days I had not one ounce of Mom left in me. I have no rebuttal. No threats. No persuasive ideas. Nada. The request to get dressed worked pretty well, but no so much with brushing hair. (I don’t have a brush. I don’t know where it is! Why do I have to brush my hair every day?! You or Daddy must have borrowed my brush and not given it back!) I attempted to complete a ten-minute task on the computer which lasted about forty minutes since I morphed into referee during a sibling fight. I don’t referee all the fights, but hitting your sister who hasn’t even been to school in six days? Come on.

At this point, I reported that the park was off the list. These unfed children needed to get in the car in order to make it to the doctor in time, so I shoved some apples and graham crackers in a bag and threw them in the front seat of the car. Bites were eaten as I lectured the kids, but intending my words for big sister’s ears. None of her teachers can believe she acts out at home. She pretends she doesn’t know what “back-talk” or “sass” mean to get out of needing a consequence. Man, I am on to that girl. If she joins debate team in high school, I’m sure she’ll win. But Momma don’t do debate. Momma does discipline. Except today I’m much too depleted. I have spent almost a week taking care of a sick child, hoping and taking precaution not to get sick. Washed hands, washed hand towels, slept head-to-toe in our makeshift infirmary. Aired out the house. Rested, but also went on one or two walks when the opportunity arose. And while giving my lecture all I really wanted to do was get in my bed and cry. Just because I need a time out. I need a time out from worrying about flu germs, a time out from my oldest daughter sassing me, and a time out to imagine a world where children go make and eat their own breakfast when you say, “time for breakfast.” Or maybe even say, “ok, thanks!”

It’s hard to describe how “terrible” your children act. But most of that “terribleness” is measured from present circumstances as well as the previous five or ten hours of behavior or misbehavior. When I arrive at a parking lot and bark, “Shut your door and stay close to me!” I know there may be some adult within earshot who thinks OMG what is up with that crazy mean lady?! But that innocent soul has not had to endure the past twenty five minutes in the confined space of a car listening to two young children duke it out. Imagine Beavis and Butthead. Or Barney or Dora or whatever cartoon or singer who really annoys you … then imagine listening to about ten of their lines on constant repeat and play that in your car on volume medium high for twenty five minutes. Then feel free to judge.

At the doctor’s office my seven year old, Sammy acted like a hyper twit, bouncing around and talking over the nurse. I’d like to see her do that in front of the doctor because I think he’d say something. And I’d like that very much. I arranged for my husband to pick up our hyper twit smart mouth so I could take Ellie to get her lunch counter hot dog and still get to the park after all. While I sat and waited the mere five minutes for his arrival, I could hardly stand the sound of my daughter’s voice. (Isn’t that awful?) I was in desperate need to hit that Mommy Pause Button. Desperate. Maybe I could shoot my kid to Mars for a quick visit. Or I could run to Florida real fast. I want my bed! I want an isolation chamber! I want to not hear whining and bickering and complaining. Oh yeah, I also want lunch. Maybe I won’t need that Mommy Pause Button after lunch. Or lunch and chocolate chip cookies. Maybe. But tomorrow is a school day. And I know one hyper sass-mouth who is going to school tomorrow!

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