I’ve been a mother for almost as long as I’ve lived in our current home. I walk a lot, I love to walk and so does poor Ranger. We mostly walk the same route and after five years I’ve gotten pretty familiar with some of the other residents along our way. Having a floppy eared dog helps so does a smile. There is this one home where I’ve seen this little boy grow up. A couple days ago I’m on my walk and I notice he’s getting bigger so much bigger, then I notice the mother and she’s stressed and she’s yelling.
Something like “I don’t care, get in the house and do such-and-such!” I couldn’t help smiling and when she caught my eye I said something like “Nice to know I’m not the only one fighting with my kids.” she half smiled in agreement. It made me picture a big football-style circle of mom’s we’re all swaying back and forth in unison shouting “WE ARE MOMS! WE WILL WIN! FIGHT, WIN, FIGHT WIN!” all shouting in solidarity and support.
Moms, our job is hard and we need a team. And, we need a game plan. Here is my basic game plan for surviving and avoiding the nut house, if only barely.
First, you need team mates that will support you and help you battle. I am blessed to be surround by fellow moms. Some who’s kids are older and can give me advice and many who are in the same place as me. We need to be able to trade war stories and frustrations with other women who know how we feel and understand our frustrations. My friend Beki and I spend a lot of time talking about our kids and it’s not because that’s all we have in common it’s because chances are that the story she’s telling me about her daughter’s attitude is going to resonate with me because I just experienced the same thing two hours ago.
Second, you need to get away. Don’t feel guilty about having interests that reside outside of your home and children. You aren’t just a mom and wife you are an entire being; embrace it. Both you and your spouse need to be allowed to get away and pursue the things you loved before you had kids. The father of your children can babysit for the day (he will survive) while you go shopping with your girlfriends, and if he never gets time away then hire a babysitter and you can go your separate ways or better yet go somewhere together.
Wich brings me to my third important strategy. Get a good babysitter. Brian and I spend a lot of money on one of our students who loves to babysit. She’s amazing and worth every penny. The kids love her, we love her. They don’t even care when we leave because they’re excited to be with Mary. Sometimes we’re spending all the extra money we have on the babysitter and the rest of the time we just wander around the mall or have a picnic. The point is to get out of the house and away from your children. It’s worth the investment because a good baby sitter is allowing you to have a break and to focus on your marriage which does not have a price.
Go out to dinner together, go see a movie that isn’t rated “G”. If after those things It’s still not your kid’s bedtime then go to the parents non-drinking version of a bar to kill time; Starbucks. We like the one in Barnes and Noble because we order our drinks and look at travel magazines and just dream.
If after your latte your kids still aren’t in bed sidle up to bar and with all the worldly knowledge you can muster in your voice say to the barristta “hit me again” and drop another dollar in the tip jar. Then wink and say “we’re waiting for the kids to go to bed” to which all the other tired parents will raise their glasses and call out “HERE HERE!!”.
When you get home a little too hopped up on steamed milk and sugar the baby sitter will whisper “They were perfect.” to which you’ll hand her thirty bucks and think to yourself, surprised, “They ARE cute.”