Every morning my alarm goes off at the “unnatural” hour of 5 a.m. and I automatically do two things. I first hit the snooze button with fury and then I pray for patience. And, not just a little bit of patience to get me through the day – but A LOT of it!
Often I feel like I am the only mom on the planet who doesn’t have an endless amount of patience to handle the daily and constant challenges I face with my two daughters. But the more I open up to other moms about my parenting struggles, the more I think that we all have many of the same strengths and weaknesses when it comes to our children. I don’t know about you but from the moment I get my girls up for school in the morning, the epic battles begin. The what-to-wear battle, the brushing-the-hair battle, the brushing-the-teeth battle, and then the what’s-for-breakfast battle. Let’s throw in a few, “I-don’t-wanna-go-to–school-today” and my all time favorite, “my-legs-are-tired, carry-me” and by 7:45 a.m. I am completely exhausted and I’ve been pushed to my limits.
I mean, we must all feel this way, right? Tired, exhausted, frustrated and defeated? How can our little people do this to us and more importantly how can all this happen before breakfast? How can one simple task of picking out a pair of underwear in the morning lead to yelling, tears, tantrums and the out of water fish-flop? HOW? WHY?
Recently, I took my 4-year old daughter, Brooklyn on a special mommy-daughter outing to get a manicure. I was in desperate need of a shellac manicure and Brooklyn was insistent of donning a bright green and bright orange polish combo. During my 7 minute shellac job, Brooklyn, no less than 150 times, asked if she could have a pedicure instead of her manicure.
“No, Brooklyn, today you may have a manicure. That is what we are here for. If you ask me one more time then we will leave and you will not get a manicure at all,” I exasperate.
So, herein lays the problem. She kept asking and I kept replying the same way. She was testing me to see if I would cave. She knew that she was completely wearing me out and if she kept it up, I would be so exhausted that I may just give into the pedicure. Proudly I stuck to my nearly-defeated guns.
“Okay missy… that’s it,” I boast. “We are out of here.”
In her own attempt of “I’ll show you,” she let out a scream to rival all screams. In fact, you may have heard it as I am fairly certain that everyone in the northeast side of Grand Rapids did. The entire salon stopped and looked at me like I had just told my child that Santa Claus wasn’t real or dreams really don’t come true. I was getting MAJOR stink-eye. With anger, tiredness and embarrassment, I had joined the “club;” the “OMG, my child just did THAT in public” club.
So, I did what any good mom would have done at a time. I apologized to the lovely woman who had done my nails, tipped her generously, pealed my screaming 4-year old off my leg, smiled at the other patrons in the salon and walked out the door.
Brooklyn was still screaming at the top of her lungs as she reached for my baseball hat and ripped it off my head and flung it in the parking lot. This was her clever way of getting in the last word.
As I got my devil-child in her booster seat, I looked at her, this time with tears in my eyes, and very calmly explained that we would be heading home and she would be going to her room for an extended time-out to think about the way she acted. Of course, there were more screams and tears as I pulled out of the parking lot. By this time most of them were mine. Within seconds, there was total silence and the devil suddenly turned into the most gorgeous sleeping angel and my heart melted, again, as it would 100 more times that day.
There is a scene in the Jennifer Lopez movie, The Back-Up Plan that sums up what I think it’s like being a parent. Anthony Anderson’s character is chatting with a dad-to be at a local park and when asked what it’s like being a parent, Anderson replied, “The best way I can describe it is…. it’s awful, awful, awful, awful. And then, something incredible happens. And then, awful, awful, awful, awful… awful. And then something incredible happens…again. It’s like that all-day every-day, man. I feel like I’m drowning, like I’m gasping to get my old life back and then a small moment happens that’s so magical, so life-fulfilling that it makes it all worthwhile. It will be the best thing you ever do.”
Despite the tantrums, crying, fights, tears, and the unreasonable arguments, being Olivia and Brooklyn’s mom is truly the best thing I’ve ever done and the thing I am most proud of. So, I will continue to pray every single morning for patience and perhaps a glass or two of red wine won’t hurt either.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cara Essick-Ontiveros is the mom to 4-year-old Brooklyn and 5-year-old Olivia. Cara is a true modern day mom and proudly wears many hats such as, mom, wife, business owner, philanthropist, cook, maid, chauffer, and wine-drinker.