A Grown Up Tantrum
By Wendy Rhein
I did not have my best moment as a parent today. I shouldn’t have any expectations that my kids should recognize or even acknowledge how hard I work to be their mom and to provide for them. I know I shouldn’t but on some days I do.
One of my biggest challenges with being a single parent is the lack of a shoulder or cheerleader to take over when I’m at my wit’s end or to validate that yes, that child was being Voldemort’s spawn and the red-faced yelling match that ensued was indeed justified. Someone who understands the wide-eyed look of amazement I sometimes have when I watch my child step over 7 dirty socks 13 times in one hour as if they are invisible, all the while complaining that he has no clean socks. I long for that occasional reminder that while I signed up for motherhood gleefully with all my being, I did not fully realize the implications of raising two independently minded, strong willed and creative young men, and that my breaking moments are understandable.
One such moment today resulted in my actually suggesting to Nate that if he liked the rules (or lack of) and the constant new legos and $20 weekly allowance for a 6-year-old without any chores that seems to be the norm at his friend Scott’s house (name changed to protect the maybe innocent) that maybe he should go and live THERE. Without me. Without Sam. Without Nana. I even offered to drop him off after school. That way he’d be there in time for the dinner that never includes vegetables and is almost always take out. You want me to pack your suitcase too?
Silence from the back seat.
As I said, not my finest hour.
The problem with listening to your kids is that you sometimes believe them. And this morning in my exhausted and frazzled Monday morning state, I believed Nate. I had been hearing about the glories of Scott’s world all weekend and since 6am today and this morning I actually believed the undercurrent of the comparisons: Scott’s parents are better at this than I am. All those insecurities about not being able to provide everything financially, practically, and emotionally; the ‘never enoughs’ as I like to call them. To be fair, I don’t think that Nate believed that undercurrent, or was even aware of it. I’ll own that one. Just like I own inviting my 6-year-old to move out. I launched into a mental temper tantrum of my own Scott list: I bet Scott’s family shops at Whole Foods all the time, they certainly can with their two professional incomes and the full time nanny who teaches the kids Swedish! And I bet they can take three vacations to Legoland and Harry Potter’s village at Disney every year! And stay at the resort! I bet Scott’s mom doesn’t have to hire a babysitter for $40 to see a $10 movie, no of course not. And of course Scott’s parents never have to nag Scott to pick up his God-forsaken dirty socks!
Lucky for me, I did manage to find some adult restraint and let that all play out in my head and not my mouth. We were quiet for a few miles, which in Nate’s world is an eternity. I was feeling about 2 inches tall, clearly not the role model of single motherhood and doing it all well that I try in vain to be. We arrived at his school and as he was getting ready to leap out of the car and start his day, he leaned forward, grabbed me around the neck and said “I don’t want to live anywhere but with you. You’re my best mom. And besides, Scott’s house doesn’t have cable.”