07 April 2016
Of the Day the Mommy Quit
Yesterday I quit.
I was just done.
And when you consider that my full-time job is Mommy, that's kind of a big deal.
But as I tried scrubbing off stubborn dried-on egg remainder from the morning before so I could make breakfast (because, you know, washing the egg pan when I'm actually done with it would be too much) with an inadequate washcloth (because my normal discloth was sitting in the washing machine, where it had been, also, since the day before) with a whining second-grader who didn't want to do spelling, crying as she does every day, hoping she'll get a different result (other than "Suck it up, buttercup" - we're all about compassion in this house) and trying to talk an apathetic first-grader through his math problem, with nothing more than shrugs and "I don't know"s in response to every leading question I can think of without out-right giving him the answer, I realized I was just done.
Here I was, having spent hours already that morning changing diapers, doing Bible Study, emptying the dishwasher, filling the dishwasher, cleaning counters and answering questions - working so hard at just being Mom. And there they were, with very simple tasks in front of them, too upset that they couldn't just do whatever they wanted, that it was somehow easier for them to do nothing or cry than to just get it done and move on with their lives. So many of us had work to do and I was the only one doing it.
So I quit.
I threw the washcloth in the still-crusty frying pan, declared, "I quit. Make your own breakfast. Teach yourselves. I'm done."
And I walked away.
There was stunned silence for a moment before the crying started. Mommy had quit on them and they were hungry and how were they going to get food? And when was Mommy coming back?
I sat down in the den, pulled my laptop into my crossed legs and decided I could do whatever I wanted, now that I had no job. I sifted through email and overall ignored the commotion happening only a few yards away and three steps up.
Somewhere the toddler had gotten ahold of something (a not-dangerous something - I'm not completely heartless) that made the four-year-old upset and he wanted me to do something about it.
"I'm not Mommy right now. I quit. I'm sorry."
The second-grader took matters into her own hands and removed the object from the tiny fingers. The toddler, incensed at this injustice, was crying.
I was listening to music.
The oldest, the one who didn't want to do her work but was shocked that Mommy wasn't doing her own, continued to impress on the others the severity of what just happened.
"Mommy's not going to make us breakfast!" Because this, this lack of eggs on their plates when they were perfectly capable of pouring a box of cereal, was going to be the death of them, and didn't they understand this was important?!
I sat and pondered where to go from here as I let the frustration simmer down from a boil.
Obviously I recognized that my resignation would not be accepted in the long-run. At some point I would have to pull myself back to my job. But when would that point come? At what point would they actually pour their own cereal and make up for my lacking? And should I maybe just feed the toddler, at the very least?
Ten minutes passed.
The commotion upstairs quieted as they resigned themselves to the fact that Mommy really wasn't going to do anything else.
And then two sad faces appeared at the top of the steps.
"We're sorry we didn't do our work."
"Oh? Do you see how maybe it's good for people to do the things they don't want to do?"
The girl seemed oblivious to the point I was making, but the boy seemed to understand the desired response: "Yes."
"Because you want me to make breakfast, even though I don't want to. Doesn't that mean that sometimes we have to do the things we don't want to do?"
"Yes," from the boy.
Then the girl spoke quietly and sorrowfully, "I'm just sorry because I love you and I don't want you to be sad."
Well, I'll take it.
I motioned for them to come down. They slowly walked toward me, not sure of what else might be necessary to make this right. I wrapped the girl in a hug, kissed her forehead and declared, "I love you." The boy came a little quicker and received the same response - a hug, a kiss, "I love you." The toddler came in, too, lips puckered, ready for her snot-covered kiss (the snot was from her nose, not mine). The four-year-old decided this was a good moment for some affection, as well (he's a hugger).
Refreshed, I set the computer aside and pulled myself back up the stairs to the waiting frying pan that still needed scrubbing.
I was surprised to notice the wet washcloth that had been resting in the crusted mess as I simmered had used the time to soften the hardened places - and it all wiped away with very little effort. Breakfast was on its way.
Sometimes we all just need a little time to rest in order to soften the hardened places and get back to where we were meant to be.