I quit. I quit because I am unqualified. I took this job when it involved nothing more than cuddling babies, changing diapers and offering the appropriate amount of formula per day. I wasn’t required to make conversation, enforce rules or deal with teenage lapses in judgment.
I was good back then. I could blink awake at the first whimper of a baby and rush in silence to a room, cradling a baby by the glow of the nightlight, shushing him back to sleep even when my arms turned into limbs of stiff pain. I could distract a crawler from a ledge, shuffle a schedule to accommodate naps, sit on the floor for hours at a time, clacking blocks together and reading board books.
Now, I am the Queen of Overreaction. For instance, today, as I drove my teenagers to their friend’s house, they asked me, “Can we go to youth group with him?” And I said, “Are you kidding me? You’re asking now, on the way?” And he said, “I asked yesterday.” But here’s the thing, the match that lit the flame of my annoyance. HE DID NOT ASK ME.
He does this with alarming frequency. He says, “I told you,” or “I asked you,” but he doesn’t. Perhaps he breathes the words into the air, but he does not make sure that his words land in my ears so that I hear and understand and respond. Does he not realize my brain is like a colander and people are continually dumping stuff into it? The important stuff sifts through and sinks in, but the big chunks, the rocks and noise and blabbering just filter right out.
I said, with indignance, “YOU DID NOT ASK ME!” And he made the mistake of insisting that he did. In essence, he insinuated that I was lying or mistaken.
So, I yelled at him . . . you may have seen me in that blue van, shouting into the rear-view mirror.
I hate myself when I overreact. Even when I’m right.
Tonight, all is well and then the phone rings and it’s someone who loaned us something for our trip. We returned the something, but without the power cord. Uh, duh. So, I ask my boys about the cord and they dance around the information I need. They avoid telling me. They blame each other. They deny knowledge of said power cord. They were the only ones who used the cord and they emptied the van of their belongings when we unpacked it.
However, apparently the power cord vaporized into thin air because they were baffled by what might have happened. So, I’m asking questions like, “Do you remember unplugging it from the van?” and “Did you pack it into your backpack?” But here’s the main problem at this point. While I am interrogating one of them, I call him into his room which is filthier than a homeless person’s cardboard box (no offense to homeless people). I am sifting through video game boxes and sticky glasses and find a broken mug, but no cord. I am shooting questions into the air like bullets and this kid next to me, my son, is giving me the old, “YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!” accusation, which is probably true. I don’t need to listen because I already know what he is going to say. And also, I’m rude and disrepectful and have I mentioned, unqualified for this job?
I hate myself when I behave worse than my kids.
The kids never did answer my questions, although he did finally admit that he knew they lost the cord, but they didn’t offer that information to me. HELLO? I am infuriated at this irresponsible shirking of responsibility, this withholding of important information, this teenageness.
I found the power cord on the kitchen counter.
I overreact. I know I do. I am at an elevated level of pissed off-ness just by walking into their disgusting pig-sty of a room. I blast like a rocket into fury instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt or gathering information without freaking out. I suck.
I simply must stop it. STOP IT. STOP IT! Get a grip before I cause them permanent, irreversible destruction. What I want to know is this, though. If nothing I have said to them to this point, fourteen years of parenting hasn’t made a dent in their behavior (TURN OFF THE LIGHT! STOP FIGHTING! PLEASE QUIT LEAVING EMPTY MILK CARTONS IN THE FRIDGE!) then why do I think that I can affect them negatively? My positive influence hasn’t had any effect at all.
I don’t want to be one of those screaming moms that kids plot to get away from. I don’t want to be a bitter old biddy that no one can stand sitting next to in church. I don’t want my kids to hate me.
(Will they ever stop driving me crazy? Can I stop acting like a lunatic? I want a do-over.)
Really, I quit. I can’t do this. Hire someone else with qualifications.