My day, my life, is full of screaming. Screaming, whining, growling, crying. I listen to it throughout the day, every day. 95 percent of the time, it just rolls right through me. I nod sympathetically, I look stern and administer discipline, I dole out hugs, kisses, cuddles and timeouts as the situation calls. Sometimes I just blatantly ignore it, if that's what the moment calls for.
That other 5 percent of the time? I lose my fucking mind.
I know it's gonna be a bad moment for mommy when the first 30 seconds of sound out of my adorable baby daughter's mouth sets me to screaming- AT HER.
"STOP IT! Just stop crying, what do you WANT from me????". Then I feel like a fool; yelling at a 6 month old, who does that? I cringe at the sound of my own frustration and immediately try to cover my faux pas with false motherly tenderness. "I mean, sweetie, what do you need? Hmm? Cutie?"
Add to that helpless baby cry the unending chorus of a toddler whining, "Mama, Mama, Mama, I want a treat, I want a treat, Mama, I want a treat, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, I want a treat, I want a...", and I start to have very physical reaction to my offspring that I cannot hide.
I get tense, my ears start to throb and my shoulders reach up high in a defensive and instinctive posture. Heat courses through my arms, legs and head, leaving me sweaty and uncomfortable.
This only happens for my own children, of course. I can babysit for friends who will swear up and down that their babies are the most irritating and not feel the slightest twinge. There's just something about their cries, something so primordially HORRIBLE, sometimes, that makes me want to... well, you know (do things that of course I would never do because they are very wrong and children are precious so of course it's all just a passing flare and violence is very wrong I know that I'd never actually raise a hand to them of course not not me no way uh-huh it was just a momentary flash of a thought).
It's funny, too, that I can go weeks, whole weeks, in and out, day after day alone with these girls in top form, and remain patient and impervious. Then, out of nowhere, I spend 15 minutes on a random weekend with them crawling up my ass and I just want to pop their little heads off and start my own game of indoor soccer.
I actually said to my 2-year-old today, as she was asking me for the umpteenth time for a snack after just refusing to eat her dinner, "Anna, I need you to stop talking. You must stop talking, you have to stop talking for FIVE MINUTES. Okay? Do you understand? NO TALKING WHATSOEVER."
It worked about as well as you would expect.
I love my children. I find them fascinating and adorable and often very amusing. I honestly believe that they are very intelligent and their behaviors are above average for their age groups. I think they are special, and not in a short-bus kind of way.
But sometimes, their ability to seek out and destroy the one last peaceful nerve-ending in my brain makes me want to leave the country.
By myself, with nothing but my passport and the contents of our savings account.
And the best sound-deadening earphones that money can buy.