I had just finished cleaning the kitchen table from breakfast and was trying to transition my kids into the car to take Ginger3 to preschool. While I was upstairs searching for socks for the boys, I yelled over the banister for the three of them to get their shoes and coats ready. When I returned downstairs, not one of them had done what I had asked. I repeated myself with a threat to take away the iPads, but again, my threats fell on deaf ears. I had to load the car with backpacks and other stuff, so I topped off my threats with, “You will lose iPads for a week if I come back into the house and see you haven’t made any progress.” That got them hopping… the two Middle Gingers were now on their toes, digging around the mound of shoes on the basement landing. The Youngest Ginger, however, stood there and stared at me. When I asked him why he wasn’t moving, he said, “I can’t.”
Through pursed lips, I grunted, “Oh yes you can…”
I pointed to his shoes sitting on top of the pile and told him to go get them. Then I headed to the car with my arms full of THEIR school stuff. When I came back, I found Ginger4 pulling out a box of cereal, pouring (spilling) it into a small plastic cup. Another mess for me to clean up. Another disobedient child. Another morning late to preschool.
I lost my lid. I took the cup, slammed it on the table, grabbed Jack, roughly carried him to the car, and wrangled him as he fought me into the harness of his carseat. He kicked me in the face, arched his back, and was screaming (probably as most two-yr-olds are prone to do from time-to-time). I spanked him to make my point, but he was unfazed– he wanted that cup of cereal. His arms continued to flail at me, BUT I had won– a shoeless Jack couldn’t go anywhere once he was in his carseat. The other two had climbed in and quietly fastened their belts. At this point, I sadly might conclude their obedience was driven by fear.
The car ride was uneventful with Ginger4 screaming in the backseat and the others quietly staring out the window. I sipped my coffee, wondering if this was a preview of my day to come. And then it hit me: Mommy Guilt. I just lost it with a two-yr-old who tries from time-to-time to exert his independence. His timing is always the worst for me, but I am not sure there’s ever a good time for his antics. I was overcome with this feeling that I had over-reacted and even mentioned to Paul that I don’t think I have ever been this angry at any of the other kids like I was with him.
In recent days, I have been hooked on this blog that follows fellow mom Kara Tippet’s steps into the Afterlife, leaving her four children and devoted husband behind. While her story is devastating, it shows me glimpses of my real purpose here on Earth. Yesterday’s entry was perfect for me and might serve as a catalyst for change in how we engage with our children.