I love my children – eternally.
But I have a tendency to get irritated with them – easily. Usually it’s the small stupid stuff that they do that annoys me the most.
Like when the seven and four year-old brothers do the whole “No, it’s not”, “Yes, it is” thing until one of them – usually the four-year-old – bursts into ear-piercing cries and starts stomping and flailing around while yelling “YES. IT. ISSSSS!!!” at the top of his lungs. This is especially bothersome when said yelling and stomping occurs while I’m trying to get the baby-toddler down for a much-needed nap.
My kids must have read the same “How to Be the Most Annoying Brother or Sister” book as all the other typical siblings in the world have because they bother each other the same way all other siblings do and they know exactly the same buttons to push that my siblings and I knew of also. I must have unintentionally passed these tips on through my genes.
They touch each other in just the “wrong” way, stick their tongues out and say Na-na-Na-na Boo-Boo just like any other kid, and love to be the first one to say “See, I told you so.” I know trouble is coming when I hear the familiar “I’m teElling!” threat. One wrong shift of the eyes in the general direction of the wrong sibling and suddenly “He’s being mean” and then before we’ve even had breakfast World War III breaks out right in our own kitchen.
I think one reason these little pebbly squabbles irk me so much is because they are usually so insanely ridiculous. I shouldn’t have to spend time breaking up fights about who dropped the crumb on the floor or decide who should pick it up. Why does it have to matter so much who sits where or whose turn it is to push the elevator button? And is it really too much to ask that everyone just be quiet for a few minutes while I try and make a left turn during heavy traffic? I’m only trying to get everyone where we need to be without dying.
I know. This all sounds so petty. Because it is. But when you hear the same petty stuff over and over, day after day. It begins to wear on you. Then I get cranky. And turn into Mommy the Crank Monster. Some days, it’s just too much.
In other words, being a mother is wonderful but at times the annoying stuff overwhelms me and I can’t see the flowers through the weeds.
But a couple years ago I came up with a sort of “mantra” to help me get through the more annoying and ridiculous times. When I find myself in a major eye-rolling moment and feel like I’m about to lose it over a pair of socks on the floor, I simply ask myself this simple yet important question –
“Will this matter when I’m 90?”
You see, one day while visiting my husband’s almost-90 year-old grandma before she passed away, I asked her, “How did you do it?”
“How did you raise six kids so close in age without going crazy?”
Her answer was simple.
“Well…I just…did it.”
And the funny thing is, she really didn’t remember all the exact details about how hard it was. When I asked my 90+ year-old Abue (grandma) the same question, she basically answered the same way. So what I learned from those conversations is that everything I do as a mother does matter right now. It does. And I will remember how hard it was when they were young. However, I most likely will not remember every single annoying detail when I am 90 – if I live that long. There will be things I do remember, I’m sure. Especially if it involved someone getting in severe trouble or anything that resulted in a trip to the ER or a phone call from the school principal. Even then, I may not remember.
So while those tiny annoyances do get under my skin now, I have to decide which ones are important enough to remember. If I don’t think I’ll care about it – least remember it – when I’m older, then it probably isn’t worth getting too upset about now either.
So next time you find yourself internally rolling your eyes at the ridiculousness of a sibling argument or disciplinary issue and it’s starting to burn your heart and turn you into a Crank Monster, try and pause to ask yourself –
“Will this matter when I’m 90?”
If the answer is no, take a deep breath, maybe even a few moments alone in the bathroom or garage, to regain perspective and calm down. Then deal with the situation as quickly and simply as you can and then –
MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE.
If we made a big deal over every single little tiny thing our kids did wrong or what they did to bother each other or you, we wouldn’t make it very far. I know I wouldn’t even last through breakfast. So in other words, “pick your battles” and don’t let the small annoying parts of motherhood ruin the greater and more precious moments.
Because it’s those good ones – the ones you might not notice as much now – that you WILL hopefully remember when you are 90.