There are days when dealing with J’s demands is easier for me. I confess it: my patience (which has increased over time) is not yet what you would call “prime quality.” When J is especially intractable, unbendable and cryptic, I can turn into a puzzled mom of the highest ranking.
Today is Friday. J has a field trip and should be, by all accounts, raring to go. For some reason, he went to bed out of sorts and rose from bed out of sorts. While getting ready for school, he kept pointing in the general direction of where the linen closet is; there was no verbal support to what he was pointing at, so I started feeling clueless right then and there. General waves in general directions tend to be indicative of general discontent. I’ve always told my children that unless I KNOW why they are upset, annoyed, irritated, sad, angry, confused, down-in-the-mouth, etc. I cannot really do anything to fix what ails them. J, dressed in his THE DUDE ABIDES t-shirt, was unwilling to delve into the realm of specificity. In spite of a healthy dose of caffeine I had just consumed, my brain was cottony enough that I could not compute the data being fed to me.
Teeth brushed, lights off in his room, plastic hangers in hand to be taken downstairs, J decided to plant himself firmly in front of the linen closet and be angry. ARGH ARGH ARGH and point, more specifically this time, to TGG’s door. Why, in God’s sweet name, wasn’t J up yet? Why, if J had to be up and dressed and out the door in mere minutes, was TGG still in bed???? WHY??????
This reaction came garnished with squeals, hand-slapping and head-thumping that I was simply NOT prepared for…it’s Friday morning, for crying out loud!!! So I opened TGG’s door and said, quite firmly and impatiently, “your brother doesn’t work today! Your brother gets to sleep today! You get to go to school so march your fanny downstairs NOW!”
STOMP STOMP STOMP…quick tap dance in the dining room while hand-slapping (Gregory Hines, can you see this from your perch in dancers’ heaven???,) and angry squealing. STOMP STOMP STOMP towards the hallway closet, angrily grabbing his jacket and backpack in the process and THAT is when I raised my voice and said (half asleep then and very contrite now) “WHAT is your f*cking problem!? NOT EVERYONE has to be UP and OUT because YOU are up and out!!!”
Big round eyes, arched brow, loud sniff and shrug and J, my sweet-and-sour baboo, turned around and didn’t even say BYE.
I am a bad mother.
I know by three o’clock I will have regained my patience and powers of negotiation, but this morning I am a bad mother.
I cannot take back the impatience or uncouthness of my reaction. I cannot un-offend J. I cannot rewind and be nicer; I have to live with my bitchiness and add it to the list of things I’ve said or done over the course of my life that I wish I’d thought through BEFORE their completion. J is maturing…I seem, in the midst of middle-of-the-night hot-flashes, to be becoming more of a whiner.
Is this why the circle of life brings us to the empty-nest? Is it that, as parents, we seem to outgrow our ability to deal with our children because our brains are predisposed to “let them go” at a certain stage of maturity? My internal clock, wired by the patterns of child-bearing, child-rearing, child-to-teen, teen-to-adult, mom’s recovery of self that we are fed through media, books, previous generations (more recent generations -like my mother’s- demanding it while previous generations didn’t encourage it,) is rebelling against the fact that I am heading into menopause and segueing into growing older while still harboring a man-child in my household. I have friends who have children in the same age-range as mine, and I hear of “going away to college,” “moving out,” “moving on,” and I look at our living arrangements for the next forty years…is that why I am being such a bitch? I don’t resent my kids, but I feel (and this is completely childish and immature of me, considering the circumstances) that I’m always “on.” Dada hasn’t said it out loud, but I’m sure he feels the same way…we just handle it in different ways, I guess.
So I will spend the next few hours trying to figure out how to help J figure out his brother’s schedule. I am thinking, because this is how my brain works, that the best thing to do is take a picture of TGG wearing his scrubs and make a few PECS, and take a picture of TGG in street clothes and make a few more PECS. We can post those into J’s schedule, even if J doesn’t have to go to work with TGG. The idea of TGG in pajamas and happily cocooned in his warm bed while J is getting ready for school seems to be confusing to J, but he has no qualms about being in his pajamas early on a Saturday or Sunday, and seeing TGG dressed for work and leaving in the wee hours. Since I cannot negotiate awareness and understanding, at least I will clarify frequency? I don’t know…I’ll see how THAT works.
For now, I am going to do my yoga. I am going to also play Henry Kissinger for the cats who, by turns, hate, despise, dislike, love and cuddle with each other. Yesterday they took a two-hour nap on my bed, playfully romped around the house in such a delightful way that the only thing missing was the song from The Fox and The Hound playing in the background. This morning, they hate each other once more and the hissing, growling and batting with paws has resumed.
With the time spent indoors increasing almost exponentially as the cold weather approaches, some sort of peace agreement (or at least a TRUCE, please) must be reached…between cats, between cats and humans, between teenagers and middle-aged people…