See this guy? I think I may have married him.
Well, ok, so maybe he doesn’t look exactly like that. Maybe more like THIS.
For the most part, I’m pretty even-keeled. I don’t get overly excited about good things nor do I get overly upset about not-so-good things. I may raise my voice but I’m almost always tightly in control of my emotions. This was actually a bit of a handicap when I was climbing the corporate ladder because, apparently, bosses need to see that you are enjoying yourself. You can’t just do your job well. You need to act like you love doing your job well.
When I was working at a PR firm, I placed a story about lightbulbs on the Today Show. Freakin’ lightbulbs. No joke. It was a story I’d been pitching for months. I’d worked hard on developing a relationship with a certain segment producer and all my work paid off. When I got word that the story was a go, I sent my client and my boss a very matter of fact email letting them know. I explained the story angle, the air date, the taping date and the travel arrangements. Shortly after I sent the email, I received a phone call from my boss, asking that I come into her office. She was amazed I hadn’t reacted more enthusiastically. She was clearly bothered by the fact that I had scored such a HUGE placement for my client, on a top television show, and that my email could very well have been about placing a Public Service Announcement in the local weekly. Where are the exclamation points? The smiley emoticons?
A year or so later, I was working at a giant financial institution doing Event Planning. It was a great job but a hard job full of travel and details and finicky clients. I loved it and did well. Well enough to eventually get a generous raise from my boss who called me into her office to give me the details. She said very nice things about my work. She said very nice things about my future within the group. She presented me with a very nice salary increase. I said “thank you very much” and smiled. Then I was ready to return my desk. She, apparently, wasn’t ready for me to return to my desk. Because at my next review she brought up the fact that she was very disappointed by how I reacted to the raise. That I didn’t turn cartwheels and sing “Happy Days Are Here Again” as I leaned over to kiss her fashionable shoes.
I earned that raise. I said “thank you”. I’m just not the unbridled enthusiasm type. Those that know me well, understand this trait. I’m not a jump up and down, screechy, over-exciteable kind of girl. I tend to be rationale and calm in most situations. And while, surprisingly, this trait hurt me in the corporate world, it’s helpful to me in my role as a stay-at-home Mom. Kids need an even keel to depend on as their own little ships toss about from one emotional outburst to the next. We weather the storms nicely as a team, the three of us. Most of the time.
But, sometimes, somedays…it’s the perfect storm. And the seas have just tossed Mommy around a bit too much in too short an amount of time. The screaming, the fighting, the whining, the gimmies, they all collide in one big ole’ tsunami. (Alright, enough with the metaphor.) These are the days when I hear my own yucky Mommy voice in my head and I’m yelling and ranting and rapidly becoming that Mean Mommy. The one who tells them they’re driving her crazy and doles out time-outs like popsicles on a summer day.
The one who can. not. wait. until. Daddy. comes. home.
Because I don’t often lose it.
But, when I lose it? I really lose it.
“Losing it” this weekend occurred after a long day of what I viewed to be “Little Boys in Paradise” activities. The beach, dinner out, playgrounds, sidewalk chalk, play dates and birthday parties. They were back home and, with bottomless adrenaline tanks, racing and chasing and screaming and throwing things around the living room. Darting around the fireplace with its “you’re going to crack your head open on that thing” stone riser. And, when I discovered Little Brother’s beloved “Bah” (a stuffed rabbit) flung between the fireplace and the screen for roughly the 900th time in the last two days, I snapped.
Without thinking, I rushed over to the fireplace, grabbed “Bah” and threw him as hard as I could across the room.
Which, of course, sent Little Brother into a frenzy of tears.
Stop crying! Enough! Both of you! Go to your rooms…
And, then I may have heard the sound of angels. Harps playing softly as the living room entryway came aglow.
Husband stepped in.
He doesn’t intervene in the true sense of the word, though. He doesn’t swoop in and try to mediate. Probably because he knows we’re beyond that point. You know, what with me throwing stuffed bunnies and all. No. He doesn’t tell me I’m over-reacting (which of course…I am) and he doesn’t tell the kids that ignoring me countless times is ok. He just…diffuses. He steps in and gently takes the parenting reigns from my tightly clenched fists. And I, gratefully, let him.
Not long afterwards, I hear them all reading a story in Little Brother’s room. Calm. A giggle here and there.
And they all eventually emerge. Happy.
And find me sitting peacefully alone in the living room. Happy.
I’m sorry, Mommy.
Me too, guys.
Thanks for saving, if not the day, at least the moment. For understanding me. For caring for them, and for me, so well. For recognizing that it was Mom, not the kids, in need of a little time out.