Today my heart hurts. I am exhausted.
Today… I am broken.
It has probably been one of my worst parenting days. Ever.
And it started out with such promise too…
This week is half-term break for many of the schools in the UK. At the beginning of the year Chris and I had talked about making more of an effort to go out and do activities, even if we couldn’t go away anywhere. It was starting to feel like we were letting life run away from us. I am not going to lie, times are tough around here and the budget is tighter than tight. But we realised that if we let that rule us, our family life would pass us by and we would have few, if any, special memories to look back on.
So, today was *supposed* to be a family day out at a wonderful world heritage sight, which is set up as a Victorian town. We thought the girls would be interested in seeing all the costumes and trying out the different hands-on exhibits, especially since at least one of them has studied the Victorian period in school. Unfortunately, last night I looked at the weather forecast. It was typical that the last two days had been bright and sunny, but today was forecast to be colder and cloudy. I spent a few hours last night researching indoor attractions, in case we had to scrap the (largely outdoor) Victorian town.
It turns out that the yearly Camping and Caravanning Show is on this week. It’s not something I normally would give any thought to, but in light of the fact that holidays abroad are currently not in the budget, and knowing how much the girls LOVED their first holiday break in a motorhome a few months ago, I thought it would be fun to check out all the gadgets and equipment on show, as well as many holiday destinations that showcase themselves.
So I peeked out of squinted eyes the moment I woke up to see a dark cloudy sky and a light drizzle falling. *Great*, I thought, as I woke up Chris to discuss the day’s plans. We decided that the best idea would be to go to the indoor Camping and Caravanning Show. To make it a little more of an event, I thought it would be fun to have a McDonald’s breakfast on our way. (We probably eat there about four or five times a year.) Secretly, I also figured it would get people moving faster to get ready. We have only gone out to breakfast a handful of times and I thought they would see it as a real treat.
If they did, it sure didn’t show. Instead of rushing to get ready and out the door they played around in the bathroom and had to be repeatedly reminded to get washed and dressed. Of course, in my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Are we telling them to do something they’ve never heard of? Isn’t this exactly the same routine EVERY morning?… the SAME routine they’ve been doing since they were babies?!’
Somewhere in the midst of all of this, our 8 yr old woke up (reluctantly) and decided she was going to go downstairs to play instead of getting dressed. She started to whine about how everything would be *BORING* and how she didn’t want to go anywhere. Things got as bad as me snatching the toothbrush out of her hand and me brushing her teeth for her. She was in tears and I was getting more and more annoyed about my beautiful morning being ruined. (Sigh…)
Things did not get any better.
Chris was now following the girls around to get them to do what they had to. I had retreated to my office to finish getting ready and to take some time out to try to calm down. It was now too late to get a McDonald’s breakfast and that part of the plan was out the door. Eventually, it was too late to go ANYWHERE and I told Chris to forget it. He wasn’t too pleased and I don’t think he agreed about scrapping the day, but I was at my limit. I was tired of trying to plan nice things to be sabotaged by the rest of the family and having to PLEAD with them to do simple things.
Things got even WORSE.
Chris came up to the office and asked gingerly, ‘how about if we go to McDonald’s for lunch?’ (Ever the optimist, trying to salvage a bad situation…)
I looked at him and paused before roaring, ‘ARE YOU CRAZY? THEY DON’T DESERVE IT, I’M NOT REWARDING BAD BEHAVIOUR!’
For a little moment (just a little one) I felt sorry for him as he walked back downstairs with his shoulders slumped. Mostly, I was just infuriated though.
I could hear him talking to/pleading with/yelling at the girls downstairs as he decided that they would all go to the grocery store and get some food for lunch. They came up to tell me the plan and get their shoes on. Then Miss Misery stomped up the stairs. ‘I am NOT going. I don’t care if I don’t eat.’ Chris started trying to reason with her. She didn’t budge. THEN I heard her say, ‘We could just order a takeaway. Yeah! Let’s call Domino’s!’ She was bargaining with everything she could think of.
The whining voice was going right through me. I became more and more angry. My breathing got shallow. I shut my eyes tight and tried to take deep breaths. Each time I tried, I felt a new wave of anger wash over me. My fists were clenched in my lap. I unclenched and clenched them again.
I got up silently, walked downstairs, and put on my coat. By this time, Chris had followed me downstairs. ‘Where are you going?’ he asked quietly.
Through gritted teeth I hissed, ‘I don’t know… and I don’t know if I’m coming back.’
With that, I picked up my keys, slammed the door, and walked out.
(To be continued…)