When I thought about what motherhood looked like before I was a mom, let’s call it the “pre-mom vision” for short, I envisioned myself snuggling armfuls of children on the back of a tractor filled with hay, cheerily volunteering at their schools and receiving compliments from the teacher about how kind, smart and hardworking my children were. I envisioned myself jumping up and down and cheering at their sporting events with a smile ear to ear and tearing up with pride as they put their foot on the bus for the first time. And those things really do happen, but I never, ever, ever, ever, considered the hell that it would be to feed my kids dinner.
Every day right before its “time”, time to feed my three children dinner, I get a pit in my stomach. A nasty pit full of nerves and dread that thickens and churns as I approach the time for their meal to be served. As if preparing the meal with three lunatics barraging throughout the house “needing this” and “needing that” and “hating this brother because he did such and such” or “not being able to find X” and “little brother ate Y” and “the baby put Z in the toilet” – it’s a wonder I get anything on the table. The process isn’t pretty, but somehow I do it, and sometimes it even turns out quite tasty.
But don’t be fooled.
When the patrons approach their meal I tense up and wait for it….wait for it…… wait for it…. “Eww!!! This is YUCK!” Yep. Saw that coming a mile away.
And then everything I never thought would happen at my dinner table in my pre-mom vision begins to snowball into a big fat F-U.
I never thought I wouldn’t be able to sit down to eat with them and possibly engage in some jovial conversation about the best part of our days. No. I don’t sit. I defend. I defend my cooking, my floors, my children’s belly’s from forks that are jabbed just above the belt because Child A put a vegetable on Child B’s plate because he is allegedly “allergic” to it and Child B is pissed because god forbid he have any additional ” disgusting green things” on his plate so he attempts to return it to where it belongs and spills his water in the process and we are, wait let me check…..Yep! About 30 seconds in.
In my pre-mom vision I never thought I’d spend half of meal time on my hands and knees, mopping up water, dodging dangling legs and having pieces of meat drop on my head because Child C, the baby, thinks experimenting with gravity is hilarious. But thankfully A and B have recovered from their war and are now on the same team – Team “Let’s be As Obnoxious and Silly as Possible to Really Piss Mom Off”…..and the goofiness sets in.
The giggles turn into belly laughs which make them gag causing chewed, half-swallowed food to resurface making the comedian himself lose his balance due to the hilarity of the situation and henceforth dropping his fork on the ground which is then licked by the dog setting him into tailspin proclaiming that he a) won’t get his fork because he can’t reach it and b) even if he could reach it he wouldn’t use it because the dog licked it.
And I never thought something so trivial would make.me.SO.mad.
So he does what any big brother would do and snags his fork from his little brother mid-bite which subsequently knocks his brother off his stool onto his back…. and now we have crying.
As I go to console the fallen patron in as calm and patient a manner as possible, I feel more chicken drop on my head followed by giggles from the culprit who knocked Child B off his stool. And I lose it.
“WHY CAN’T YOU GUYS JUST EAT YOUR FREAKING DINNER LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE? DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD I WORKED TO MAKE THIS DINNER FOR YOU? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SIT AND EAT AND BE NICE TO EACH OTHER? WHY DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE EVERY SINGLE FREAKING DINNER SO FREAKING DIFFICULT? NO ONE AND I MEAN NOOOO ONNNEEE IS GETTING DESSERT. NOT TONIGHT. NOT TOMORROW NIGHT. AND NOT THE NEXT NIGHT EITHER. NOT UNTIL YOU CAN PROOOOVE TO MEEE THAT YOU CAN SIT AND EAT AND BE NICE TO EACH OTHER. THIS IS RIDICULOUS AND I AM SO, SO, SO UPSET RIGHT NOW.
I gotta poop. I’ll tell you when I’m done, k?
The fire builds. It’s now bursting out my ears and leaking out of my eyes and suddenly I demand a minute to myself. (More like 10 seconds because I have a baby and what kind of mother leaves an eating baby unattended.)
So I take a deep breath. Try to regroup and try to forget that this joyous meal ends with me cleaning it all up. And I can’t help but think, why did I even bother?
People say that it gets easier.
Fork to mouth. Converse. Repeat. That is the goal. We will get there someday.
And then it dawns on me, that in my pre-mom vision, the one where I am bouncing happily on my hayride, did I realize that I would compromise my sanity for them day after day after day because I love them and I want them to eat “disgusting green things” and laugh together and be together.
So as I lean over the counter top, mouth 3 inches from my plate, shoveling the remains of dinner into my mouth, I feel a sense of relief in knowing that I’ve pushed through another dinner and survived (barely). A sense of calm settles over me as the boys scamper off to play, the baby still lingering between my legs. I take a sip of well-deserved wine – swirl, inhale, swish, and swallow. I get lost for a moment in this mini mind vacation….until I realize, oh crap, the hell that is getting my kids to bed is just around the corner.