So.....my mother in law lives less than two miles from our house. I adore her. I love that she lives so close. We have a mutual level of respect as far as not just randomly showing up at each other's houses unannounced. Sometimes it happens for various reasons, and that's totally fine by me. Honestly, I could care less if she did show up randomly all the time. This is a good thing because tonight she did.
And boy did she get a close up look at what my life really looks like. You know, we moms try really hard to hold it together in public. If you don't believe you have a public mommy self and a private mommy self I'm going to have to call you out. They may not be that different for you, but they are different. OWN IT.
Anyway, my public mommy self has way more patience, a great deal more mental capacity, and typically looks a lot cleaner. The patience part is understandable I think. When you are home a lot with your kids you have to work incredibly hard to remain patient. For me, that hard work is effective 90% of the time. That other 10% involves multiple forms of escape. This is how I have come to learn how not to yell or lose my ability to even look at one of my children. I shut myself in my room or let myself out (usually the back deck), pace/cry/scream/search for jobs outside of my home on the internet, and then I come out (or back in) and start over. But, when you are out and about with the rest of the world maintaining a certain level of patience is almost your only option. Unless you're cool with blowing a gasket in public. In which case, you may not have separate mommy selves, and you have no idea what I'm talking about.
With that in mind, back to tonight's story. The girls took a bath for over an hour. It was one of those bath nights where the water was freezing, and I still had to beg them to get out. Evie got a baby doll for her birthday that you can wash. The baby came with her own tub and soap dispenser. Our house looks like baby dolls walk themselves into it daily and take up residence. We have more doll strollers than Seth has shoes. And yet, I saw the bathtub baby and knew that Evie had to have her. This was more for the sake of the other baby dolls that Evie sneaks into the bathroom and shoves into the sink to "wash" than anything else. It turns out that I could probably remove every other doll and toy from this house but this new one and Evie might not even notice.
The first twenty minutes of the bath I spent in referee mode. Once we established that there was in fact only ONE of these dolls and she was going in time out if they didn't share her, it was quite a lovely time. They both pretended to be Ms. Gina (their swim teacher) and "teach" the baby how to swim. Before I know it I'm so enthralled with how much fun their having. In the background I began to hear Molly freaking out in the kitchen. Seth is out of town so I get a little panicky. I jump up and round the corner so that I can see who is standing at the car port door while also being able to see the girls. I realize it's Seth's mom and quickly let her in. I know. It's a parenting DON'T to walk away from the tub. Our house is tiny. Don't judge.
Grammy and I have a nice chat for a few minutes and somewhere in there I start signaling to the girls that bath time is coming to an end. Lila gets it. She knows what "five more minutes" means. Evie doesn't care how many minutes you throw at her. She's two and your minutes mean nothing. Especially when the most glorious baby doll that ever showed up at our house is involved.
Lila gets out and she and Grammy exit the bathroom. Evie is pulled kicking and screaming from the tub. I hear Grammy say, "she definitely hasn't lost that scream!". Usually I can talk Evie down from totally going awol. When I can't, I put her in her bed. This move is for both of us. I refuse to physically try and wrangle a writhing two year old ever again. Lesson learned there. She refuses to calm down. The bed is neutral territory. I tell her I will pick her up when she can calm down and let me hold her and talk to her. Tonight, as I'm telling her this, she smacks me in the face....twice. She's a hitter. It's nothing new. But, she usually doesn't hit me square in the face and never more than once.
This my friends is where the lines get blurry. This is where I would have maybe reacted differently if Grammy hadn't been here. I probably would have taken a lot longer to gather myself. I did shut the door to her room for a minute and walk to the bathroom. I picked up a few things as she horror movie screamed. Lila starts asking me eight million questions as I try to start over with Evie. I haven't showered today, I am single parenting a lot these days, and I just wanted to go in my room and shut the door. Just for a minute. I went through the routine discussion in regards to hitting with Evie instead. Grammy snuck Lila away to finish getting ready for bed. Within minutes we were back on solid ground.
1) I can power through without escaping no matter how tired, gross, and attacked by my own child I feel.
2) My private and public selves mesh together really well. I stood firm with Evie and did my thing in front of Grammy even though I felt very past my level of patience. I got a little loud and a lot tense, but the situation still got resolved without too much of my crazy showing. It's not that I think she's judging me. It's that I want to feel like a good mom no matter who might be standing there.
3) Maybe remove the baby doll from the tub ten minutes before it's time to get out next time. That way, the loss of the doll and bath time won't seem so monumental. Ah, who knows.