Well, here we are almost through with the second month of the new year. As I take stock of my 2012 resolutions, my biggest failing so far has been the one where I promised to be calm and patient. Yeah….that’s not working out so well. How do other moms do it? I’ve seen some moms just stand by with a vacant space cadet look in their eyes while their children lay prostrate on the ground, gnashing their teeth. Are they having an out of body experience? On massive amount of Valium? Practicing some alternative form of discipline that I am not aware of? What is their secret?!
By the end of the day, our house strongly resembles the monkey house at the Central Park Zoo. Our girls are bouncing off the walls and stealing pieces of
food one minute and then, fangs bared, screeching at some perceived injustice the next. And the last thing my simian children are interested in is listening to their underpaid zookeeper mother. I make a request in a normal tone of voice. No response from the kiddos. I make it again. Zilch. And again. Nada. And finally, I cannot take it anymore and I have to yell at my children to behave, listen, stop fighting, put away their toys, be quiet, stop picking their nose, stop putting their hands down their pants, or just plain FOCUS!
I can’t ever remember a time when my own mother ever yelled at me. Sure, we had our battles but she chose a more subtle form of reproach. One furrowed brow and a world-weary sigh was enough for me to melt in a puddle of guilt, regret, and shame. My mother is very good at silently expressing her disapproval; she’s Asian, you know. If I was especially bad, she’d mutter something about coming all the way over from Korea to give us a better life and this is how we repay her. Very effective. This magical maternal Asiatic gift must skip generations because all my withering looks get me are a shrug, eyeroll, and a “What-ev.” I don’t even get the courtesy of a full “Whatever.”
So I yell. Not everyday, not all the time, but enough. But instead of making me feel better, it makes me feel worse. Like I am failing as a mother, that my children’s first memories of me will not be me singing them to sleep or baking cookies together but, rather, something similar to this:
Thus, in the spirit of this Lenten season, I am going to give up yelling at my kids. Our girls can swing from the rafters, flinging masticated food at my face and I will not flinch. Instead, I will count to 10, take a swig of my Sauvignon Blanc, and speak to my monkey children in an even but firm tone of voice. Hopefully, by the end of these 40 days, I will emerge as a better person and parent. And, even more importantly, I hope that my sweet girls will not co-author a tell-all book about their own Mommie Dearest….because frankly, I shudder to think who would play me in the Lifetime tv movie.