Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Learning as I go

Today was a hard day.  Nothing specifically bad happened, although George was his most-defiant self and both kids whined a little more than average.  But otherwise I had a great day on paper – a cloudless 70 degree day, George and I had some alone time this morning, F&G played the afternoon away at their favorite playground, and a family dinner with Daddy.

But in spite of this perfect looking Tuesday, I am grumpy and exhausted and just tucked my beautiful daughter in for the night whispering, “I’m pushing the ‘restart’ button tonight.  Tomorrow will be better.  I promise.”  (To which my curly-haired angel replied, “it’s okay Mommy.  I had a good day!”)

In replaying how I got here tonight, I think it started with my notion to cook a family dinner (which I define as one that we all sit down at the same table and eat at the same time – a near impossibility in our house).  I love cooking now that I have the time and so many incredible recipes at my fingertips; but for the most part I cook something well in advance knowing that Will and I will simply heat it up later at our usual dinner times long after Frances and George are in bed.  But for whatever reason I wanted to try a true family dinner.  The result?  Dinner was ready when Will walked through the door and no less than 10 minutes later the four of us were sitting down to a new recipe.  But to get to that point took more effort than I care to admit—and much more sniping, impatience, frustration and edginess than my children deserve.  In fact, just knowing that I wanted to try this penetrated my mood all day long and made me a less-than-desirable candidate for “Mother of the Year.”

So, my lesson for today is – regular family dinners at this stage in our lives are too hard.  I don’t have the heart to push my children aside as I’m trying desperately to lug scalding dishes out of the oven or manage boiling pots on the stove when all they want to do is play, read books or just be with me.  I don’t want the time pressures and mental fluster that planning a big meal from start to finish necessarily requires intruding in our daily lives.  The kiddos enjoyed the family dinner tonight, but I know what they really want at the end of the day is for me to be patient, understanding and happy.  And I was none of those today.

There are undoubtedly many (or most) mothers in my position who could handle what I am griping for paragraphs about—but I know that I cannot and I am okay with that.  Or at least, I want to be okay with that and I am just trying to plead my best case.  Either way, I am convinced that Frances and George are better off with a simple, stress-free dinner and a simple, stress-free mother (who will eat dinner later with her always calm and patient husband).

So, as I told Frances, I am pushing the restart button tonight.

And I’m feeling better already.  Happy Tuesday everyone!

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