It’s becoming increasingly tricky to take over my shift with the kids from the ex. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m disparaging his parenting, because in fact I believe him to be a better parent than myself. More patient, more loving, more tolerant and more emotionally predictable, which is apparently preferred by children. For some reason they say it’s not good for children to be unable to predict a parent’s personality from day to day, which is difficult for someone like me, who has so many of them.
However as the ex behaves more and more like a kind of saint/maid/confidante and less like an actual parent with rules and consequences, when I come to take over, I look increasingly less like the firm but fair, slightly erratic but always apologetic mom I pride myself on being, and more and more like the Gestapo.
I don’t in any way mean to minimize the Holocaust with this statement (what with having a coupla relatives randomly exterminated and all) but with the reactions of my kids to the simplest requests upon seeing me, I feel like I may as well be wearing an armband with the Nazi insignia. To wit, I asked the older child, an eight-year-old I formerly knew as David, to finish the homework he has had two weeks of spring break to complete, and he turned into the incarnation of Satan, snarling, spitting and shaking the metal dog door off the wall, a door, I might add, that has never done anything to anyone.
It emerged that his father had asked him if the work was done, and after David had convincingly lied yes, said father did not bother to check. So TV, iPad and a 2 liter bottle of Gatorade were had by all, until Mommy the Nazi came to put a damper on things.
So, in a response that was either remarkably mature, or completely the opposite, Herr Mommy picked up the purse where she had so recently set it down, waved to her other child (the seven-year-old who had chosen to greet her just moments before by hilariously slamming the front door in her face) and leaving the premises. That’s right, I got into my car and drove away, texting the father to get his children’s heads in gear and come and meet me or alert me to when they were ready to be civilized and I would return. Neither of which happened for a long time, as it took him quite a while to realize that I had actually left. For some reason, everyone on earth except my children’s father gets my texts. It is a mystery shrouded in secrecy, one that not even a Knights Templar theorist could unravel. It’s also one of the reasons we broke up.
So out I stayed, until beckoned to return by contrite children and a somewhat pissed off ex-spouse, and who could blame him? By the time he gets home when I have been with them, I am barely a blur spinning past his peripheral vision, tires squealing, as I make my escape from mommyhood. But someone must look out for mommy’s nervous system which, though partially recovered, is still on the delicate side.
Here I must take a moment to apologize to you reading this; I’m sorry if your situation does not enable you to leave when you feel you are about to scream or do violence to your children. Certainly I have been in that situation as well, where small sojourns in the bedroom (again, lucky to have another room to escape to) are all I can manage. Please accept my sincerest congratulations for restraining yourself from losing your shit and going postal on your kid, as only a kid can make you do.
For me on this occasion, as I felt my needle go to red, nothing short of leaving the premises was going to prove my point. Which is don’t fuck with mommy because she doesn’t have to put up with your bullshit, don’t try to get a reaction by destroying property, and also mommy will not strangle you no matter how much the voices in her head are telling her to. To each I say, I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.