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The makings of a meltdown.


Stop me before I lose total control!I really did it this time. I imploded. We were late for school — again. I was half-dressed with 8 e-mails left to send. My youngest son refused to change out of pajamas. My eldest boy announced that we needed to stop at Fry’s on the way to school to score a few end-of-the-year gifts for his four most beloved teachers. And over the edge I leapt.

Now, let’s analyze the components that led to my completely inappropriate public melt down.

1.) I am late for everything. This is a flaw that I seem unable to overcome. I feel badly about myself for my tardiness. But when it negatively impacts my children, I feel even worse. Translated, the message I get in this type of situation is:
I SUCK AS A MOTHER!!!!

2.) I cannot control my impish 7-year-old son who, regardless of my nagging, begging and haranguing, moves at his own pace and refuses to follow even the simplest of my directions. This child behaves as if he is truly the center of the universe and all of us, merely a collection of disparate space junk. The message here?
I HAVE FAILED MISERABLY AS A PARENT!!!!

3.) End of the year gifts for teachers that have loved, supported, and respected my kid for an entire school year. Um…hello? How did I manage to space this out?
Message #3:
I AM AN INSENSITIVE SLOB WHO NEGLECTS TO REPAY THE MULTITUDE OF KINDNESSES AFFORDED MY LOVED ONES.

Individually, each of these incidences was troubling. But as a combined lot, the frustration, self-loathing, and personal shame became too much to bare. So I flipped. “Get in the car,” I shouted, “We’re already late, and now we’re gonna be even later because once again Levi sprung something on me at the last minute…” As my irritation grew, so did my volume.

“Just say no,” my husband calmly advised, making me feel more like a raving lunatic than I already did. “He should’ve thought of this days ago. You are not obligated to take him at the last minute.”

But, as is often the case with my eldest, he just wants to do something kind and admirable and I feel badly telling him no. It’s like I’d be preventing him from doing a mitzvah (good deed). That feels wrong in every sense of the word.

By the time we got to Fry’s I was embarrassed and ashamed of my behavior. The kids were stiff and silent. I stood in the parking lot sobbing and holding onto them for dear life. “I’m so sorry,” I stammered. “Mommy’s just not right today.” And that’s when it happened,the giant “AHA” moment.

My older son hugged me tightly and said not to worry, that we all have bad days, that families always forgive each other. My younger son threw his arms around my waist, held on snugly and said, in the sweetest, most compassionate voice I’d ever heard, “Don’t cry anymore, Mommy. You can handle this. Just take a deep breath and remember that we love you and that you’re the best mommy anyone could ever have.”

As I strode down the aisles with these two tender, considerate, caring young men by my side, it suddenly dawned on me that maybe I wasn’t doing such a bad job parenting after all.

Happy Birthday to me.

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

4 responses to “The makings of a meltdown.

  1. Jim Dolot ⋅

    Dear Debra:

    Happy Birthday!! It sounds like you doing all the right things with those wonderful two young men.

    Jim

  2. Myra & Herb ⋅

    You are a wonderful Mother and your children are lucky to have you says your Mother ! Many more happy and calmer birthdays.
    US

  3. Sheryl Schmidt ⋅

    Debra,

    This is Gabi’s mom — I love your blog and we have all been through this as a mother. Your boys are awesome which says a lot about you. Happy belated birthday!

    Sheryl

    • gettrich ⋅

      Thanks Sheryl,
      I appreciate the kind words. My boys are crazy for you and the entire family! And I hope you know how nuts we are for your daughter as well.

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