Every evening, some time after dinner, I start to feel my mental grip loosening a bit. A wave of exhaustion laps up to the shores of my patience. It’s been a long day, you know. Same as yesterday, probably the same as tomorrow.
This is “the parenting wall.” And every night, I hit it.
Somewhere between getting woken up at the crack of friggin’ dawn and my kids’ 8:00 bedtime, my enthusiasm fades.
The day begins with me Tasmanian Deviling around my house, getting my kids ready for the day.
I’ve worked some gritty, draining jobs in my life. But just for getting kids ready in the morning, we all deserve medals of efficiency and valor, us parents. We just do.
Parents work, whether it’s at some desk job or carting around kids all day, the fact of the matter is that most of us are breaking our asses all day long.
I survive it all by trying to imagine some pin dot of promise at the end of the tunnel. A half hour where I will sit on the sofa and watch TV before I collapse. And sometimes I stick a cold beer into my fantasy scenario too. Just because.
But most of the time, I hit the parenting wall long before I get there, I’m afraid.
Come about 6:30 PM, I’ll be trying to psyche myself up for the final stretch, preparing Charlie for bed and all, when I’ll hear those older two fighting about some ridiculously inane thing.
I remind myself to breathe, but dude. I’m spent. I just am. I don’t care if you want to judge me, but I’m like this close to walking out the back screen door and getting in the Honda and aiming it towards Mexico, towards a whole different life.
This is every night, remember.
The parenting wall.
My love for my children, once a warm and bubbling spring at 8 AM, has now congealed into a hard layer of sick-of-it-all and despair.
I want to be saved from this feeling of my face being smooshed up against the wall.
I can’t take anymore!
I’m tired! I’m hungry! I’m dehydrated! I’m lonely! I need to pay the bills! I need to get the laundry out of the washer before everything is just a wrinkled waste of my precious time!
Oh my God, NOOOOO!
Charlie just crapped his diaper and is crying because I’m footballing him around in his own filth and surprise! Here comes Violet and she has ice cream all over her hands and she is carrying my laptop and making it all sticky and surprise! She’s bawling because Henry just pinched her in revenge!
I close my eyes. I try to breath slowly. I take a big country whiff of the kid poop and I try and be Zen about it all. I imagine my fantasy scenario, tell myself I’m almost there.
Sometimes it works and I get there without losing it and I feel so proud.
Other nights, I’m almost there when I come across two kids kicking each other as they put on their PJ’s in the middle of a whole roll of toilet paper unraveled all over the room and I let go completely. I fall away from the Zen and I become a bear, a lion, an elephant with a Philly accent.
Some nights, I yell.
I do what I have to do.
But we get there, eventually. We get sorted out and tired heads end up sleeping safe and sound under the roof of this nuthouse we call home. That makes me happy. And proud. It really really does. I did it. We made it.
I’m so hungry.
Please stay asleep for the next 40 minutes. I need it, my loves. I need my TV time. I really, really do.
The parenting wall, man.
It’s a b*tch.
But I guess I wouldn’t change a thing.