By Lisa Cucinotta
Thursday I was a monster. A selfish, tired, cranky, inpatient mom that wanted desperately not to be on mom duty and did a pretty shitty job of parenting. I feel the need to confess this to you, partly because I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty about being such an asshole and partly because I am hoping that maybe I’m not the only one.
It all started Wednesday with a predicted 1-3 inches of snow for today. Then suddenly it was 3-5, then 5-8, then 50 hour winds, then a bomb cyclone (whatever the hell that is!) and then the apocalypse. School was cancelled for Thursday even before Julia’s bedtime on Wednesday. My nanny texted by nine pm to check if she should come. YES PLEASE PLEASE is what I wanted to say. But even I am not that big of a bitch. She just got her car back after a month in the shop and it’s not exactly the kind of vehicle I’d want her to drive in heavy snow and wind. Plus what if she got stuck here and couldn’t get out? If I wouldn’t want to leave my house, why would I make her do it?
That meant someone had to stay home with the kids and that person was going to have to be me. Why? Well for one, my husband had appointments with clients lined up at work as well as a doctor’s appointment, so he was prepared to brave the weather and go in. Secondly, on Wednesday I had soul crushing heartburn that made me feel like I was going to vomit, and I legit went to bed with a Tupperware container next to my bed just in case. I managed not to puke but I did wake up several times throughout the night for various reasons so I didn’t sleep much at all.
Fast forward to 6 o’clock Thursday morning, the kids’ regular wakeup time, feeling like I had barely slept, and staring down at a full day trapped in the house with a six year old and a two and a half year old. Oh the horror! I’m kidding, I know that doesn’t sound so bad. Stay at home moms do that every day. But I’m not used to solo parenting for long stretches. On the weekends Brian and I co-parent, and on top of that we often split up the kids, with me taking Julia to a birthday party or out shopping while he hangs out with Luca, or he talks Julia to the grocery story and I stay home and play with Luca. So I am not used to being alone with the kids for a twelve hour day, particularly not one where you can’t leave the house.
My key mistake of the day was to decide that I should still try to work while they were home, instead of just giving in and taking a day off. You can’t get consistently productive work done with small kids home while being a good mom. I cancelled most of my meetings but I was still online all day, responding to emails and instant messages and generally trying to act like I was at work. This wasn’t fair to the kids and it wasn’t their fault that they got restless and cranky and acted up. Instead of building magnatiles or playing with kinetic sand or baking cookies together, I put on the tv and then pretty much yelled at them for wrestling with each other, or grabbing toys out of each others hands or jumping on the couch or whatever super annoying but completely normal and age appropriate acting out they were doing.
And the worst part is that I knew – I knew that I was being a jerk, but I still resented them. For not playing quietly. For interrupting me when I was on the phone. For Julia being so physically aggressive with Luca that he had marks on his neck hours later. Here’s the weird part – I am not sure that the kids knew. I don’t think they had that bad of a day. Julia has informed me many times that a particular day is “the worst day ever” and I didn’t get even one of those. Her and Luca didn’t cry that much, despite repeatedly fighting with each other. They both got fed moderately nutritious meals and snacks, had naps/rest time, watched movies, snuggled with me, etc. So did my kids actually think I was a monster? Or is it just me that feels like a monster because I know what was in my head. Because I was thinking: I don’t want to be here doing this. I don’t want to be responsible for these people right now. I want to be responsible for myself and my work and nobody else. I want to watch Netflix while I write my emails. I want to take a quick nap between conference calls. I want to work hard, but at doing work for my job, not at working at what’s really my more important job, which is being their mom.
They’ll probably never remember this day, and if I didn’t immortalize it in a blog I likely wouldn’t either. If I had a popular blog, I’m not sure I’d publish this piece, as it makes me look particularly ugly. But there is something cleansing about admitting the darkest parts of me, and even if you can’t relate, maybe it will make you feel a little better by way of comparison. There’s always going to be someone out there better than us, and someone worse.