After another Mother’s Day fail this year, I found myself on the hosting end of a world-class pity-party. It’s been 5 years now and each holiday has its shares of ups and downs. There are usually tantrums, tears, screaming, and breaking things – peeling of paint, peeing on something, hurting a sibling. But Mother’s Day is always the one holiday that takes the cake.
The first year, it was my fault. Cameron and Taylor had only been living with us for 6 weeks at that time, and my excitement of finally being able to celebrate the holiday as a foster mother had gotten the better of me. That was the year of the fecal smearing. I’ll never forget it. That specific day soured my plans for the following holiday’s celebrations. Needless to say, the next year was a fighting disaster, filled with hate and more broken items. As was the year after that and the next.
However, this year, we’d made it through Thanksgiving with miraculous calm, and Christmas had only its minor bouts of crazy that came into play. So, in a moment of weakness, I allowed myself to imagine this Mother’s Day as being a turning point – something spectacular and lovely. In my delusion, I ignored the warning signs.
Earlier this week, my son’s disrespect for women hit epic proportions, which got him kicked out of my vehicle at the end of our driveway and sent back to our house (accompanied by screaming that resulted in my neighbors sending me concerned text messages). Cameron also took it upon himself to get into my make-up and set his sister up to take the fall. (It took many days and many lies before we got to the bottom of this one!) And both children had taken it upon themselves to use their grandmother’s Wi-Fi to look up inappropriate materials. Again, lies. Again, blaming. Again, fervent promises that it wasn’t them.
The night before the over-anticipated holiday, Taylor threw up ALL OVER the living room – as if she'd had a full-on exorcist moment and managed to spray the entire room with rancid bile. My husband and I cleaned it up and sent our daughter back to bed with a puke bucket before we all turned in for the night. At 6:30am, Wyatt, who has been suffering with a horrible cold, coughed so hard that he threw up ALL OVER me, himself, and our bed.
You guys, it was in my hair. (Because curly-haired girls don’t have enough problems to deal with.)
I plunked Wyatt down on the shower floor and cleaned us both off as best I could. Struggling to shave my legs while the toddler banged his toy train repeatedly off my knee-caps, I gave up and just prayed that no one noticed the stubbly places I’d missed. Besides, my stomach was starting to feel a little fishy, as well, so I figured bruised knees and hairy patches were the least of my worries.
Once I was clean, my husband gave me a beautiful Mother’s Day card, and I noticed that everyone had signed their names and written me a special message… everyone except for Cameron. My son was apparently ticked off that no one would tell him what to write to me, so he sloppily scrawled his name and slapped the card down without care.
It’s the lack of thought that counts, really.
Pat stayed home with the sick baby while I went to church with our older two. We were there for 2 minutes before Taylor started screaming and crying over something her brother had done. But I couldn’t be bothered by that, because at that moment I was being informed of events that had occurred during my daughter’s play-date the previous day. Events that drained me of my energy, brought up lies that I’m the worst mom on the planet, and that left me with umpteen phone calls to make the following day.
And worse yet, she showed absolutely no remorse for her actions when my husband and I addressed them with her later that day. The only tears she shed were when she was told she was going to stay in her room while her brothers got to go to Grandma’s house. Then the tears came. She screamed for nearly 3 hours over the unfairness of life.
I spent Mother’s Day #5 feeling sick, being puked on, dealing with bad attitudes and tantrums, and listening to a child scream for hours instead of feeling sorry for her actions that have devastating repercussions.
So, when I say I had a pity-party, I mean I crawled into my bed, turned on re-runs of Law & Order: SVU (loudly, as to drown out the screaming from downstairs), and I cried bitter tears that I didn’t even have the energy to wipe away. And since I was already a wreck, I allowed myself to watch videos on my phone of Isaac, my lost little love, who pains my heart each day - but especially today. It was my 1st Mother’s Day without him, and every inch of me was agonizingly aware.
All I kept thinking was that if I was in Walmart or someplace in public, I could look at a mother struggling with her children and think to myself “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I would be able to walk from the store without giving that woman another thought. Not that I wouldn’t care for her situation, but since it’s not my responsibility, I would be able to sleep that night in peace.
But this is my circus. And these children are my monkeys. And I’m aware that Mother’s Day doesn’t necessarily need to be all about me and celebrating all the wonderful things I’ve done as a parent… because quite honestly, I’ve been reactionary and sucking it up in the parenting department pretty regularly these past few weeks.
Additionally, I know in my head that traumatized children often take out their frustrations on their mothers (biological, foster, or adoptive). I’ve read the studies. Heck, we ARE the studies.
My family is not your circus. And I’m the one responsible for when my monkeys get loose and wreak havoc on the community, not you. But for those of you who have chosen to surround our broken cages with love and support… I cannot begin to thank you enough. For your kindness, your prayers, your understanding, your forgiveness – these are the things that help me feel that I am truly not alone.
And next time I’m in Walmart, I will be specifically looking for that Mama. I will walk up to her, smile, and tell her that she’s amazing. It may not help her sleep at night, but she too, will know that she’s not alone.
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