Guest blogger Cindy: This has been a long summer vacation for my kids -- one that's STILL going on because of the budget cuts in our school district. The remainder of the summer break wouldn't have been a big deal (for me, anyway) if the kids' camp hadn't ended two weeks ago ... which means that I have been faced with keeping them at home while trying to work from my home office.
We have a pool, so I figured the kids would just fill the rest of the summer with swimming and other ways of entertaining themselves. How bad could it be? The universe, it turns out, had definite views on the matter ....
My kids didn't want to swim. They wanted me to take them places, referee their constant fights and provide other forms of entertainment (the water park, Six Flags, etc.), all while whining incessantly, making noise and creating mess on top of more mess. After a week of this, I completely lost it. I screamed at them, threatened everything I could think of and then went and sat in my car to rest my forehead on the steering wheel and cry. I thought, I get how parents walk out on their kids. I get it. I would never do that, of course, but at that moment I sure wanted to.
If there are parents who are exposed to this consistently ... well, I don't see how they keep their sanity. Mine, I was pretty sure, had just taken off.
I had never felt more hopeless. I called my husband -- who had little sympathy because he was headed into a meeting -- and he told me to "buck up." I knew he was right: We had these children by choice, and it's a parent's duty to raise responsible, kind and loving members of society -- no matter how hard it gets at times. But I had reached a limit I didn't know existed.
I locked myself in my room for the rest of the afternoon, and when my husband walked in that night, I passed him on my way out. I just grabbed the keys and drove and cried and cried and cried. I didn't know I had that many tears. When I got home, I went straight to bed without talking to anyone. The next morning when I woke up, as soon as I realized where I was (within close proximity to my children), I seized up as if I were readying myself for battle. And then I locked myself in the bathroom and cried some more. When I looked in the mirror, it was as if someone from a mugshot was staring back at me.
My kids knew something was up, and at separate times, they each tried to comfort me. But I wanted to be alone.
One part of me knew that something inside me had flipped out, but that part of me didn't necessarily care. I just wanted it all to go away -- which I knew wouldn't (couldn't) happen -- and so I felt trapped. It was horrible. I was horrible.
That night, my husband surprised me with a sitter, and he took me to a movie. Except as soon as we parked in front of the theater, I started sobbing, and he ended up driving me around for two hours while my nose ran and I stared out the window, silent, like a mental patient. God knows what was going through his head -- I know he didn't bargain for a wife who couldn't effectively deal with her own children. But I couldn't help it.
It took a full four days for me to come out of whatever it was that had taken hold of me. That's something you don't think about before you have kids: You can't just walk away. Granted, you don't think you'd ever want to, but still -- things happen that are unexpected, and suddenly you're this person you thought you'd never be. It's not like dating, where you can break up with someone if it doesn't work out. Those kids are always gonna be there, and you do have to buck up.
I realize this whole thing is not their fault -- it's mine. It's my lack of parenting skills, of coping skills. I have less than a week before they go back to school, and when they do, I will be able to process why I reacted like I did. To be honest, I'm kind of scared of myself, because now I know what can happen. How can a mother let something so mundane make her so crazy?
I'm guessing what I had was some kind of nervous breakdown.
I would appreciate advice from any readers out there. I'm sure I'll get all kinds of negative comments (and I probably deserve them), but hopefully somebody's out there with some compassion who could give me some kind words.