It’s Quantity, Not Quality

Do you remember when you were pregnant with your first child and you imagined all those wonderful family moments that you were going to have?  All that quality time filled with joy, laughter and hugging?  Ah, the memories we were going to make so we could sit around and talk about our wonderful family life.  What the hell happened to that time?  In our house I feel like we have a heck of a lot of quantity, but not so much quality.  I want to be able to sit down to one meal where we talk in normal voices, ask how each other’s days are and everyone eats what is served.  Do you know what I get?  Child one standing next to the table complaining about what I am serving, child 2 complaining that she had to stop playing to come eat, husband bitching about the ungrateful kids and how he wants to go back to work and me thinking, “Calgon (or insert liquor here) take me away!”

It is beyond frustrating to have each family event end with yelling, crying and hard drinking.  Last night we decided to have a nice family walk after dinner, here’s a little recap for you to visualize.  Child one takes child two’s Moshi Monster book on the walk under her shirt, partway through the walk she pulls it out and starts reading it.  Ok, this is the same kid that can’t keep her balance standing still and she wants to read while walking around the block.  Child two suddenly realizes that child one has taken HER book and starts yelling at her sister to give it to her.  My husband and I tell them to quit and for #1 to give #2 her book if that’s what it takes to shut her up.  So, #1 throws #2’s book on the ground and #2 starts crying and screaming.  We tell the kids to stop again, as neighbors are watching us.  Silence lasts about 25 seconds and then #1 starts telling #2 how she will never share anything with her again and what a bad sister she is and then #2 starts telling her that she doesn’t really care because she thinks all of her stuff is stupid anyway.  My husband now screams that no one is allowed to speak for the rest of the walk.  Simple enough, right?  Oh no, child #1 has to start asking why she can’t talk when it’s her sister’s fault and that she should be able to talk and #2 says the same thing about her sister and that causes my husband to respond in his harshest tone yet that, “Silence means silence, now everyone SHUT UP!!!”

I can’t even stand to get in the car anymore.  A five minute ride in the car can actually be more painful than giving birth (or for you men readers – passing a kidney stone).   I have gotten to a point where I turn on the DVD player as soon as we get in the car because there is a chance that the distraction will be long enough for me to get to my destination without fighting or yelling.  And actually it is the whining that puts me over the edge.  When it starts I actually feel my body twisting like taffy as I try to keep my cool and not respond, but then a piece of me feels like it is torn away from my body as that whine/wail slices through me.  I lose it and I start screaming like an idiot and then silence takes over the kids because they believe I have gone nuts, but I go on a useless 10 minute rant for no-one else but myself.  When finished I feel like I have fought a migraine and I am left feeling angry at myself for letting my outbreak happen.  I wonder about my poor kids and think, do they ever worry about poor mom?

Many times I feel myself unconsciously running interference to keep everyone calm.  The kids will come in to wash up for dinner and I will tell them to clean up quickly and not to complain when they sit down.  I will lead the conversation with the positives of the day, hoping to steer all conversations in that direction.   But I fail, with the most benign event setting the whole family into a state of unbalance.  Something as simple as #1 having a piece of food roll off her plate towards #2 and a war breaks out between them which ends in a parental breakdown and a scream to be silent for the rest of the meal.

Yes, these are the memories we will have; along with those smiles that make you warm inside, the hugs that steal your heart and those little faces that you would give your life for without a sliver of doubt.  Now go hug your little day wreckers and be happy!


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