This morning, the sign on our door should have said BEWARE OF THE MONSTER. The monster in our house does not emerge at night, live in the closet or under the kids' beds. But sometimes, it's sleepless nights of restless dogs and whiney toddlers that lull her from her cave.
Everyone beware of the dreaded Mean Mommy Monster, when she raises her fearsome head. Husbands run, toddlers hide and dogs better scramble; the she beast is ruthless.
She appears harmless, hair pulled back in an unwashed ponytail, yoga pants and a t-shirt. You might notice she needs a pedicure, a pluck and a wash. Sometimes she can be mollified with successive cups of coffee or a couple extra hours of sleep, but other times there is no escaping her wrath.
The Mean Mommy Monster likes to sleep until 7 a.m., but becomes fierce when she starts the day before 6 a.m. She often appears during the morning rush, clothing two toddlers, packing lunches and attempting to leave the house. She snaps, biting words "Help Me please... We are late again! Listen!" She speaks in cutting phrases. She is short on patience and her temper is even shorter.
Today she appeared when the dog started having panic attacks at 3 a.m. He jumped out of bed and the Mommy jumped out after him for fear the dog would wake her daughters. The Mommy tip-toed down the hall, silently shutting her 3-year-old's door and snuck back to bed. The dog returned to bed too. 30 minutes later the dog was up, click clack nails on the hardwood floors. The Monster was up too. The dog lay down. The Mom lay down. Hit repeat, the same scenario every 30 minutes until 5 a.m., when the dog jumped from bed, click clack down the hall, scratch-scratch on her daughter's door. The Monster held her breath, praying for more sleep and that her daughter didn't hear him. But then -- "MOMMY" -- and the Mommy Monster slowly crept out from under her down comforter.
"Our dog needs Xanax," she muttered to her husband. "We have two kids under 3, why is the dog keeping us up all night?" She glared at the dog, "BAD DOG!"
Husband nodded, "We can try to keep him downstairs, but he'll probably whine." A quick kiss on the Monster's head and her husband escaped to work.
The tired Mean Mommy Monster had not become ghoulish yet. Coffee could only do so much. Swim class at 9 a.m. and the baby's new favorite game of stripping nude after Mommy finished dressing her, unleashed the perfect storm.
A quick play by play, she dressed her girls, swimsuit for the big girl and a clean outfit for the little one. She snuck to her room to dress herself. Shrieks erupted from her children. The baby tore off her pants, shirt and diaper. Big girl squealed, "She's naked!" The Mean Mommy Monster emerged half naked chasing the baby around the room as she screamed, "No Mama! No Diaper! No Mama! No Diaper!"
Around the room they ran, the shirtless Monster yelled, "Help me pleeeease. We are late." They circled the room, shrieks and giggles enraging the Monster.
Big girl munched pretend food, "I want to play," she responded. The Mean Mommy Monster fumed. The Mommy Monster pulled on big girls' clothes as big girl sat limp on the floor.
"Help Me, Please," the Monster snapped. "Swimming is for you, it's supposed to be fun." The baby pulled off her clothes for the third time and big girl laughed.
Finally downstairs, the Monster began the arduous task of putting little feet in little shoes, the baby screamed again. "I want crocs," hysterics, "I want crocs," at the top of her lungs. These 2-year-old tantrums took the Monster to her limit.
"Stop," screamed the Mommy Monster, "No Crocs, snow on the ground... No Crocs." Baby screamed and hit the floor in a ball of anger. "Screaming doesn't get what you want," the Mommy Monster yelled back, clearly not listening to her own message.
The Mommy Monster snapped. She tried to control her fury. Her yelling made her kids feel bad, but it made her feel worse. Her short temper ate at her on these days. She pleaded, "Help, please, help..." but she knew her expectations were unrealistic for her two kids under 4 years old.
She strapped the baby in her seat as the baby yelled, "Stuck, stuck, stuck!"
"That's the point," the Mean Mommy Monster muttered, "car seats make you stuck." Baby screamed and the Mommy Monster drove.
She wanted to turn around. She wanted to go home, give up on swim class and the outside world, but she pulled into the YMCA and parked her car. The Monster took a deep breath. She felt bad. She felt sad. She felt guilty. It had been a hard couple of weeks. She apologized to her little girls strapped into their car seats, "I'm so sorry Mommy was so grumpy. I was too grouchy this morning." The Monster meant it.
In class, the Monster and the baby sat together on the bench, watching the big girl swim happily. Another mother sitting nearby asked about the morning.
"It's been rough," the Monster replied.
"I hate those mornings," the other mom stated. "The mornings when you snap and the children should just get out of your way. My acupuncturist told me that we all have these moments. Moments when we don't like who we are or how we behave. She said our moms had these moments too and typically we don't remember them, so we shouldn't beat ourselves up about them either."
It struck me -- this could be my new friend.
Her words, a relief, like ending a yoga class -- Namaste -- the divine light in me honors the divine light in you. Or in this case, the mommy monster in me honors the mommy monster in you. We are all OK.