26: Silly Mommy to the Rescue
26: Silly Mommy to the Rescue
Silly Mommy to the Rescue
Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do.
Weekday mornings at my house were like one of those action movies in which the hero has only a short amount of time to defuse a bomb. Each day, I had about fifty minutes to get my kids out the door to start our day. But instead of a bomb exploding, it was usually my temper.
“Jack, we have thirty minutes before we have to leave. Can you please get dressed?” I’d ask my eight-year-old son, who was too busy watching the local morning news to acknowledge me. And so the countdown would begin. “Mary, we’ve got twenty-five minutes,” I’d tell my five-year-old. “Can you stop dancing around the table and finish your breakfast so we can get going?” She would sit, only to pop up again about twenty seconds later, usually trailing toast crumbs onto the floor as she did.
And this is where my blood pressure would start creeping upward. I just wanted to get the kids out and on their way to school on time, and usually it was because I needed to get back home for a phone call for work, or to finish a project on deadline, or make it to a meeting.
Beseeching, pleading, begging — it would only go so far as I prodded (okay, nagged) them. Ten minutes to put your clothes on! Five minutes to brush your teeth! Do you have your homework folders? We have to leave NOW! All it would take would be one small trigger — say, Jack not wanting to wear the shirt we had picked out the night before or Mary crying about a lost baby doll — and I would snap. You know that point in the movie where the hero tries to defuse the bomb by snipping a wire, but he cuts the wrong one and the ticking timer on the bomb starts moving faster? Well, my mistake was choosing to let my frustration get the better of me. And boy, did the tension escalate fast after that.
“Mommy, I don’t know where my shoes are,” Mary would cry as I tried to find her a new pair. “You can be very mean sometimes,” Jack said after I got mad when they were still lagging behind. Invariably, it made for a very grumpy walk to school and a bad start to the day.
Then one morning, Mary was watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while picking at her food. I was putting their lunches together and could tell by a glance at the kitchen clock we were going to fall behind. “Mary, please eat,” I said. And then, probably a little loopy from not enough sleep, I switched over to the voice of Clarabelle Cow. “Or else I’m going to eat your breakfast with Minnie and Daisy.”
Jack and Mary looked at me. And started to laugh. “Say something else as Clarabelle,” Jack said.
“Okay,” I drawled, “go up and get dressed for school. And don’t pull a Donald Duck and forget your pants.”
And instead of fighting me on it or ignoring me, Jack laughed and went up to his room to get ready. Mary started to eat again and said, “You’re silly, Mommy.”
It turned out Silly Mommy was better than the average action movie hero — she was a super hero. That morning, for a few moments, I didn’t stress about schedules, or what I’d be working on that day, or reminding myself about the coming PTA meeting or errands that needed to get done. I didn’t push the kids, or nag them, and we still made it to school on time. And we had fun.
Since then, I regularly call on Silly Mommy. I’ve added more crazy voices to my repertoire, done a few wacky dances. In the mornings, Jack and I have raced around the house to see who could make it upstairs first, and I’ve jiggled and spun Mary around while we pretended she was on the Star Tours ride at Disneyland.
And Silly Mommy’s useful not just on crazy weekday mornings. I’ve learned that taking the time to laugh and have fun with my kids actually helps me get my to-do list done — it should be at the top of that list every day.
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