Sharing the stories of many has always been part of Just.Be.Enough’s mission. We are thrilled to share the story of Arnebya today, who like many of us, is on her own be enough journey.
Arnebya is a writer, blogger, and speaker. In 2006 she was a recipient of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Larry Neal Writers’ Award (Adult Fiction) and in 2012 was named a BlogHer Voice of the Year (Op-Ed). Her work is featured in The Washington City Paper’s 2013 fiction issue and she has been a guest writer on multiple parenting blogs. Because she’s funny. And she’s a parent. Her three children love to listen to her sing Prince’s “Adore” in the car, her husband worships her, and her coworkers clap when she calls out on days with scheduled meetings. That sentence is entirely true except for the parts that aren’t. Arnebya blogs at What Now and Why. You can also find her being lazy on Twitter and not obnoxious enough on Facebook.
It’d been going so well, this desire to improve myself, my mothering. I wasn’t yelling (as much). And then. The lemonade. I’m even afraid to admit it. But I think my tirade will go down in my nine-year-old’s memory as the day mommy freaked over a beverage. She looked so stricken, so shocked that something so idiotic and meaningless could make me yell quite so loud.
I will admit to wanting to be that mom who hosts sleepover after sleepover, why sure, add another, and of course your child can stay too. I want to have the house that all the kids migrate to. The neighborhood kids, the friends from school, the cousins, everyone. I want that. And then I don’t. And the line between the two is blurry, runs into itself, and is obscured by my getting tired.
They have energy and mine has been depleted. They want to go outside, they want to paint their nails, they want to watch R rated movies, they want to run up and down the stairs while the boy is sleeping. And then they drink the last of the lemonade. And I feel bad that it was the lemonade that did it. I do.
I asked them not to drink the last of it. I moved it from first sight to bottom rung of the refrigerator. In the door, even. No one looks on the last shelf of the door. This time, though, they did. And they forgot my request to leave that last bit for me. I shouldn’t care, I know. And I know it’s PMS. I know it’s being tired. I know it’s dreading going to work tomorrow, the laundry, the dishes, Mother Nature’s fun with non-spring, and and and. All of these things together simply got the best of me.
I yelled like never before because how dare they drink the last of the lemonade.
And then I apologized.
I told my daughter that sometimes it is the simplest, least explainable things that push us to the point of being that which we might hate. I despise my yelling voice, the contorted face. I hate the waving arms, the smacking lips. The if I’d just take a moment to calm down, it could all end so differently knowledge.
Today, mid-scream, I stopped. I reminded myself that the yelling doesn’t have to happen. More lemonade can be bought. THEY ARE CHILDREN.
What will they remember? Will they remember this day? Will they remember last week’s yelling to move faster, we’re going to be late? Will they remember the other times? The many, many other times? Will they think motherhood is overwhelming because of how I act? Will they choose not to be mothers because I seem crazed and always screaming about trivial things (although come on, the clothes have been sitting there for days; just put them in the damn drawer.) Will they be in therapy because of me?
And then I gave myself a break. I took stock of all that I do and then I talked to them. I told the girls that while yes, sometimes I get overwhelmed and it seems like I’m yelling for no reason, I am working on it. I don’t want them to think raising one’s voice is the way to be heard or how to parent. I’ve already witnessed each of them, toward each other, and their younger brother, become frustrated and yell. This is learned behavior. In our case, it is both learned and hereditary. I don’t want to continue the cycle and I certainly don’t want to pass on this contagion to them.
Am I combating this enough? I don’t know. I do know that I am not perfect. But I am also trying to be better, more aware, and patient. I am trying to do and be enough. All while maintaining a softer voice