These past few weeks, I have juggled time between our small business administration, attending my German language course, and of course, this is on top of me being a mom, a housekeeper, and a wife, so that’s what I have been focusing on lately.. until yesterday happened.
Two weeks ago, all the students of the German language course I have been attending online had been called upon. It was also the beginning of our classroom attendance in an actual classroom setup. It’s great to finally see my co-students regularly and connect with them personally and professionally.
Needless to say, my new schedule has also added a bit of change to my daily routine. Gone are the days when I can be with my two children, Ms. A, my smart-and-always-full-of-ideas eight-year-old girl, and Mr. H, my soft-spoken-but-with-strong-personality five-year-old boy, in the background, while I attend my classes from my laptop online. I used to be able to regularly cook a meal for lunch, eat quick, attend the class at the back of our living room, and tidy up the dining table straightaway after everyone in my class have said, “tschus und bis morgen!”
As a mom, the list of tasks we have to do starts from preparing breakfast at six o’clock in the morning (or earlier!) until we prepare our children to bed and eventually [beg for them] to sleep. When I do, I will most instantly doze off, even when I still plan to study or do some homework; sadly, this actually shortens my 24 hours/day to accomplish what I wanted.
These couple of days have been particularly stressful because, as much as I want to control the household, I realized I couldn’t do much with so little time; We definitely can’t do things all at once, and focusing on one area alone can leave the rest of our responsibilities on standby. I’m recently coming home to dining tables still with placemats on top, unused plates, used dishes on the sink – waiting to be placed in the dishwashing machine, used pots and pans, cutleries, and a living room with all sorts of knick-knacks on the coffee table. The order-obsessed-me goes mad, like ‘Do they think they have a housekeeper who will always pick the rubbish for them (I was only gone for a couple of hours)?’.
Yesterday, I came home to an apartment with toys all around the living room. Definitely not the sight anyone wants to come home to after leaving the house neat, tidy, and organized. Tired me have, of course, nagged a bit and asked the kids to tidy up. Ms. A argues she didn’t do it; it was Mr. H; Mr. H. didn’t want to help because he was ‘tired.’ At the same time, Ms. A was arguing she always has to tidy up after his brother and how it’s not fair for her since she always tidies the toys she played with.
Mr. H, stood up saying he’s leaving; he went out the door and was wearing his shoes near the staircase when I spoke to him. He was so mad at me; he gave me the kind of look in the eye that I have easily recognized as my own.
I asked him, ‘Why are you mad at me?’ He didn’t speak; he was staring until he finally said: ‘Because you shouted at me, you are mad at me!’ I said: ‘I did not shout at you, I just raised my voice, and do you know why?.’ He said: ‘I know!.. I was [just] playing…’. he was looking straight at me with teary eyes, he said, ‘I just played with my toys… I did not even play Minecraft the whole day — I was playing with my toys’ then burst into tears. I hugged him and carried him to the bedroom so I can comfort him better. I felt so bad and embarrassed with myself, but I was proud of him for reasoning out for himself, for having the courage to speak up regardless of how he thought that I would never understand. My obsession with having a clutter-free home has taken a toll on me that I didn’t realize I was partly taking away my children’s childhood.
So what did this incident taught me? That I was an idiot at this point, yes! I still have so much to learn as a parent, like it doesn’t matter how tired we are of dealing with our day to day schedules and tasks that we have to accomplish, that regardless of how long our day has been, often- it’s better not to react and instead, look away until we are calm and ready to deal with it. When speaking to children, speak with calmness, love, and empathy. Instead of asking questions (that can often be avoided), share statements that will encourage them to share their insights.
I have always encouraged my children to argue and articulate their rational thinking; I already thought I was winning. However, when emotions are involved, it becomes the ‘hard talk’ that is more difficult to express in many instances. Children are human beings after all.