I am exhausted. I moved out of my house two days ago – only two – with two of my children. Who knew living in one bedroom would be so awful? Ah, they’re not too bad. I mean given that they’ve just left the only home they’ve known. Both nights they have beaten the crap out of each other – mostly in peals of laughter, often in tears and shouts. Last night I lay on the free bed and tried to ignore it all. I think I didn’t sleep. Well maybe for a few minutes.
I eventually cracked the whip. “Time for bed. Get undressed. Brush your teeth.” It only took fifteen minutes last night. A five-minute improvement on the twenty the night before. Loud, loud minutes. Then came the musical beds. “I’m not sleeping him.” “Well I’m not sleeping with her.” Both wanting and then not wanting to sleep with me. I’m too exhausted to argue. A roar – “Just get into a bed.” Giggles. I want to cry with tiredness.
We’re finally in the two beds, in some combination of people. I fall asleep quickly. My little one is usually asleep before me. Often, they both are. If they’re not, I realize I don’t care. I have barely closed my eyes when an alarm wakes me up. An iPhone alarm, or a child(ren) alarm. There is jumping on the bed. A tickle-fest for three. Me weaker (more tired) than the other two with their boundless energy. Aren’t children supposed to need more sleep than adults? What happened to that? “Mom. Come on. Get up.” What the fuck. When did this role reversal happen? No. I know. Why did it pick moving week to show up?
I finally get out of bed. I’m about to hop into the shower, but somehow my motherly persona kicks in. “Have you changed your boxers?” Often one of them has. The other either admits having not or lies that she has. Odds are much, much higher that the latter is true. I go into the shower only half caring if she will rectify the matter. There is only so much parenting I can do right now and making sure a seven-year-old has clean underwear each day does not make the cut.
I come out of the bathroom half dressed. Enough to be somewhat appropriate for my eleven-year-old son. There are clothes strewn on the floor. My angels were so considerate, however. They are all nearly, vaguely, sort of near one of the two cases. There are giggles and deepening laughs. “She did it.” “No, I didn’t,” screamed across the room. Feck ye both! “Both of yea clean them up. You – that case with the clothes nearest it. You the other” I sternly direct them. Of course, arguments abound as to which case the blue shorts belong. And the green shirt, and the red socks. “If you’re arguing about which case something goes into, just put it in your own case!” I shout. Of course, the demilitarized zone widens item by item. I try to ignore it, but it is driving me nuts. Then one of them holds up a bra. My boobs are more than ample. “Mom. This isn’t mind,” chortles the little one. The both explode with laughter. Suddenly best buds again. I walk away. I need space.
I pace the corridor outside the room. Just for a couple of minutes. Motels are not known for their beauty or relaxing atmosphere. I return to the room a little calmer, hoping they have tidied at least a little. I walk inside to see two pieces of clothing flying in opposite directions. A clothes-fight has erupted, and I am livid. We all become still. The kids look like deer in the headlights. [Oh shit. Mom is really mad for real now]. They glance at each other and then back at me. Between the two of them the clothes are shoved into the cases. The look sheepishly at me. I put up my hand. I don’t want to hear a word. They know this. Why does it always have to get to this point? I feel deflated and hopeless. I’m so tired. I know there’s more to come.
Kids are so predictable. Everyone’s are different, but mostly known to their parents. I must be doing something wrong. How is it that my children never listen? Yet in public they come across as angels. People comment on it all the time. They have great manners, verbally and in their actions. I let myself think I’m an amazing parent at these times. I have verbally rammed good manners into their minds. Maybe all parents (or most) have at least some strengths and some weaknesses. Some stronger, some weaker. Truth be told, no one knows what goes on in others’ houses. I am not an awful parent. I am not a terrible parent. My kids know I love them to bits. We often have fun together. I’m irresponsible (others might say) with the language I use. If the worst thing my kids do is say ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ I’ll count it as win. We often play as near equals but there is a line they cannot cross. If they get close, a look that they recognize is usually enough to redirect them. When they get hurt, they know my arms are open. When they want or need comfort the same is true. When they do something that falls outside my boundaries of acceptable behavior, they’ll know this too.
I know there is plenty I am doing wrong. Whether by lack of knowledge, lack of ability (perceived or real), or because I’ve decided I’m okay with doing a half-assed job. The kids will be fine. Back to the present. I fear we three will all go mad stuck in such close quarters. I remind myself of the thousands of people who lived in tenements in times of yore. Indeed, the thousands who lived in very cramped quarters in Chicago right now. I should be able to handle it for two weeks. Did people just wallop their kids back then? And no? No. They didn’t. Well plenty did. I can only assume many did not. So, while I dread bedtime (T minus five hours), I, we, will get through. I will be knackered. I will feel like I’m going to crack up. We will get through it. We will find a decent apartment. I will separate the kids by a big a distance between their rooms as possible. We’ll have comparatively acres of space. Life will go on. I’m sure I’ll see plenty of shorts and shirts flying from time to time, but it’ll be easier for me to walk away. For me to cut screen time, because I won’t be stuck with two kids who can’t watch TV. Who are stuck, like me, in a box that barely fits a TV and two beds.
Sleep Well. Codladh Sámh. Dormez Bien. Schlaf Whol. Duerma Bien.