It’s 8:15. We should have left the house five minutes ago. The timer on my phone goes off and gonging bells fill the air, temporarily drowning out Dora’s nasally whine.
“Five more minutes?”
“No. That’s what you said five minutes ago. Turn the TV off.”
In a flash, the sneaky smile she’d been wearing turns into a scowl.
“NOOOOO! I don’t want to. I don’t want to go to school!”
Pulling from the recent parenting books I’ve read, I get down on my knees and attempt to look her in the eye.
“I know. I know you don’t want to go to school. You want to watch TV. Right?”
She nods, temporarily biting back the scream that had been building in her throat.
“But it’s time. It’s time to get ready to go. You can watch Dora later, okay?”
And then I get up and turn off the TV.
That’s when the scream lets loose, shredding my ear drums with its shrillness.
“I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I don’t WANT TO!” she shouts as she runs for the bathroom in the kitchen, slamming the door behind her.
Her screams echo nicely in there.
I take a deep breath. Square my slumping shoulders. Fire off an angry tweet. And then I open the door.
That’s when she hits me.
Knowing I have to be consistent, I pick her up without comment and haul her up to her room, trying to ignore the voice shrieking in my head, “you’re late! You’re so fucking late! ”
“Let me know when you’re ready to calm down,” I say pseudo-calmly and shut the door on the screaming monster inside.
Then I slump to the floor and put my head in my hands.
This mom gig is hard. And at times like these, I wonder why so many of us want to do it. After all, I give her everything. Place her dreams ahead of my own. Do my best to make sure her every need is met, even needs she doesn’t know she has.
I’d do anything for her, I really would.
And this is what I get in return.
In a few minutes, the screams die down to sobs, then hiccupping whimpers.
“I’m ready now.”
I open the door and scoop her hot little body up, taking her to snuggle in the blue chair.
We don’t say anything for a minute. Just sit together, her breathing slowly returning to normal.
“Mommy, are you mad?”
“No, honey. I’m not mad. Just a little sad.”
She presses her forehead against mine, and one of her tears slides down my cheek.
“I won’t be naughty anymore,” she says.
“It’s okay. We’re all a little naughty sometimes.”
“I really love you, mommy.”
“Oh, baby. I love you too.”
Then the moment is over, and she’s sliding off my lap, chattering about the flowers we’re going to plant when we get home tonight.
I guess that’s why we do this thing. That love.
It makes everything else all worthwhile.
But damn, mommy needs a vacation.