I lose it on a Sunday night, out of nowhere, like an airplane crash.
It’s been one of those long winter days when my three kids are either fighting or whining or breaking some part of the house, and I just end up losing my mind on a dime just after 6 PM, just after I’m done cleaning up the dinner mess.
It doesn’t matter who pushed me too far. I can’t even remember to be honest. One second I’m dragging my dishrag across the kitchen island and the next second my older two, Violet, 7, and Henry, 4, are pulling each other’s hair and screaming and bawling.
Even as I feel my mental trigger being pulled, I know I’m going to regret it. I know I’m going to end up yelling and screaming and hurling threats around the house. I know I’m going to need to release the steam inside of me. It’s times like this when I wish I had someone else around to help me.
I want someone to tap me on the shoulder and tag team these crazy bastards for me. “Go grab a beer and watch some TV and chill,” they’d say. That never happens though. I’m divorced. Single. Three kids half the week. It is what it is. I’m a grown man.
Or am I?
I don’t even know anymore.
It’s nothing new, this letting go of my loose grip on control. Kids try your patience. They wreck your mojo. It isn’t intentional, but it happens all the same.
Still, this is the second or third time today. And I don’t know what that says about me, about my ability to maintain order in the nuthouse. Even as I can literally feel the rush of mad blood bursting through my veins and slamming hard into the back of my face, I know that I’m going to feel like such a colossal a-hole in about 20 minutes.
I want someone to tell me it’s okay and that I’m not out of line.
I want someone to tell me I’m doing the best I can and that I’m not alone. But there’s no one ever around like that. When I end up getting madder or more upset than I can hold in anymore, there’s never anyone.
Then I feel so lame for feeling sorry for myself. And guilty for blowing my top.
Certain nights they take more than I can give and it’s all too much. I want to run out into the bitter cold night and not stop until I hit the woods at the edge of town. And not even then.
But I can’t.
I’m their daddy; I have to stay; there’s no one else to help me. I’m divorced and alone and they’re mine tonight, same as last night, same as tomorrow night.
So they break out in battle two rooms away and I’m exhausted and hangry and up to my face in dishes and I do the only thing that comes to me in my deciding moment.
I lose my damn mind. I roar. I’m Patton on a tank. And everything I’ve been working for these past two years, all my big daddy hopes and dreams, they just pipe bomb in my face.
What’s the line between success and failure as a parent?
That’s the root of all my discontent, and I guess I just need to acknowledge that before it destroys me. Kids are kids because they’re young and goofy and greener than hell. They know the definitions of good and evil perhaps, but they don’t know how to be either one all of the time. Nor should they either, I figure.
But that’s where the natural world fades away, and I come in.
Once, maybe twice a week, occasionally more. I get outnumbered. I get hemmed in by the crazy. By late in the day, when I’m alone with three little kids, watching over the three humans I love more than anyone else in the world (obviously), there are so many days when no matter what I do/no matter how hard I try to keep everything fluid and smooth, it doesn’t matter.
Something finally snaps, someone throws one too many tantrums or ignores my commands one too many times and BAM. The wheels come off my whole domestic rig. Then it’s all swift and hard as I slam into moments of losing control. Not in a physical way or anything like that. It’s grayer. It’s murkier. I basically take all this parenting zen I’ve been stacking up all day long and sabotage the whole thing in a fleeting moment of mind loss.
I holler pretty hard. Sometimes I say dumb things, saying anything to express my confused heart, my tired mind. I get so frustrated at my own situation. I want to be strong all the time, you know? I want people to look at me and say, “That dude, he’s a really kick-ass father to those kids.”
But no. I find myself upset and tired and yelling my face off just to try and make natural things stop.
It’s enough to make a good man cry.More On