You would think I would know better by now.
After 15 years of medical marriage and 11 ½ years of motherhood and 37 years of life in general under my belt, you would think I would know better than to get all puffed up and confident. You never, ever say it out loud. If your husband is on-call, you never, ever, EVER comment on how quiet his call has been. As soon as you do, some kid will shoot his eye out with a BB gun or a paintball gun or a big stick, and you won’t see your husband until the next day.
You never say it out loud.
So what, exactly, was I thinking when I started spouting off all this parenting advice? Who do I think I am pretending that I have it all together? Because the alien spaceship is circling my house, just waiting for a vulnerable moment when I think I’m doing a great mommy job, and then it strikes us down with its evil laser beam, steals my sweet son, and replaces him with a boy who looks eerily identical to my second born, yet spews forth all kinds of nasty venom.
Not ten short hours after posting my victory, The Alien wakes up mad, then bites his brother because he won’t get out of bed. Then he yells at his mother – at 6:30 a.m., before she has had her coffee. Evil, evil alien.
It only got worse from there.
I’ll spare you all the ugly details, but he ended the day by going to bed at 7:00. Without dinner.
I’ve never done that to any of my kids before.
(But guess what? He’s still alive.)
What is mildly amusing (now) is how the switch flipped back and the alien went home. All day, I followed the rules. I didn’t yell. I didn’t threaten. I didn’t respond. Textbook. But by dinnertime, I had had enough, and I snapped. After what would be his final act of defiance, I grabbed a wooden spoon with one hand and The Alien’s arm with the other, and all three of us marched to his room for a little chat.
I never actually spanked him. I didn’t have to. As I was dragging escorting him to his room, he was crying, “No, Mom! Please! I’m sorry! I’ll do anything!”
As Michael puts it, violence is never the answer…but the threat of violence can be very effective.
So The Alien got a brief recap of everything I’ve endured and sacrificed for him, followed by a stern reminder that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. And in my Meanest Mommy Voice, I told him, “I love you more than you could ever possibly understand.”
Poof. Alien gone. Son returns.
All is well.
Life returns to normal. Whatever that is.
As I was going about my daily business this morning, something started to bug me. Like a splinter in my hand, or a mosquito bite, or a rash. Something that itched and irritated me, and I couldn’t get rid of it. It wouldn’t go away.
The culprit? People. They get on my nerves. A handful in particular. They just make me mad. And irritated. And frustrated. I don’t like their choices. I don’t like the way they treat me. I would live soooo differently if I were them. Much better, of course. And wiser. And nicer. That’s what I’d do. Yessiree.
Let’s back up a bit. Twenty-sixish hours or so.
Alien wakes up. Alien is angry. Alien’s brother will not get out of bed. Alien is a morning person. Brother is not. Alien is irritated. Alien takes it upon himself to correct the behavior that is not compatible with Alien’s personal preferences. Alien sinks his evil teeth into Brother’s arm.
Alien is busted.
That’s what I thought.
Con. Vic. Shawn.
“Is your name Mommy?” I ask The Alien. “No? Then let me do my job. You take care of you. I’ll deal with him.”
“Is your name God?” He asks me. “No? Then don’t worry about her and what she’s doing and how she’s acting. You take care of you. I’ll deal with her.”
I’ll tell anyone who will listen that I’ve learned more about myself and the character of God from being a parent than from anything else. When I slow down and shut up long enough, God gently whispers (I imagine with something of a smirk), “Uh-huh. And do you see how you are just like him?”
It’s humiliating. And enlightening.
Maybe someday I’ll get it together. Maybe I’ll figure it all out. Maybe I’ll discover all the great secrets and have all the answers.
But if I do, I certainly won’t ever say it out loud.