Sanity is a fragile thing.
Especially when you’re a mother.
Really, it’s kind of an “on-again-off-again” phenomenon tied directly to a child’s hearing ability. (To those adults in a phase of clarity and lucidity, I know perfectly well that a child’s hearing ability is inextricably linked to a parent’s willingness to enforce things the first time they come up, thereby tuning a child’s hearing to said parent’s verbal instructions before the decibel level reaches a critical stage.)
I am not in that lucid phase at the moment, but am hoping to see it again soon.
If you would like to know, here is one example of how the sane/lucid cycle works (in my house, anyway). I call it “The Same Thing Happens Every Night.” (Yes, I stole that from Bill Cosby: Himself. So what? It makes sense.)
I get in the habit of asking quietly and firmly for my children to clean their rooms before bed. I make it fun. I set a timer, and turn it into a race (or some other such “Supernannyesque” technique). The kids clean joyously, quickly, and well. Through this, we establish a lovely routine for bed, and the munchkins are all tucked neatly in by 8pm, and ready to sleep within minutes of their heads hitting their respective pillows.
About a week or two into this bliss, I decide that while the kids are cleaning, I’ll take a little break and check facebook, or make a phone call, or whatever suits my fancy. After all, the kids are very obedient and helpful, and don’t need such direct supervision all the time! Right?
My “me moments” overflow into the time immediately following their cleaning of the room, and I fail to acknowledge their efforts effectively, and absentmindedly tell them to commence the next part of their routine. This they also do with swiftness and decorum, and they are still tucked into bed near 8-ish, after some precious bonding time filled with hugs, kisses, and lisped prayers. A few giggles emanate from the bedroom, but not enough to concern me, and they are asleep in a reasonable time.
Pretty soon, I become so complacent, that I actually fool myself into believing that my children will ALWAYS behave as they do when I am diligent in their training, responding immediately with gentle firmness to their deviance from my instructions, and with sincere praise when they obey promptly and cheerfully (Ha!). It doesn’t take long – a week, at the most – for them to realize Mom isn’t responding to things as quickly as she has been wont to do in the past.
Their little brains begin to revert to what I call “Default Mode,” in which they do pretty much as they please, regardless of anything I have said or done in the immediate past. Their hearing becomes incredibly selective.
“It’s time for clean-up. Everybody pick up your toys and clothes and put them where they belong, please,” becomes “It’s time to go to our room and jump off of toy boxes while throwing foam blocks at each others heads, laughing riotously, until we get yelled at or someone gets hurt, whichever comes first. To HECK with bed time!”
They end up in bed (sort of) by 8:30 or so, and I spend the next hour tramping down the hall to remind them, very loudly, to “Go to SLEEP!!!” every ten minutes until 9 or 10 o’clock, because they are turning cartwheels in their beds, and having stuffed animal fights.
Then, it becomes a test of my willpower, sanity, and patience to re-train them. Again.
This cycle happens every month or month-and-a-half, depending on other factors. Those factors vary, and may or may not depend, at least partially, on my blood chocolate level.
I’m just glad that I’m not alone in this kind of struggle.
I’m not alone, right?
Oh, someone please tell me that you don’t stay on the Sane Train all the time! If you do – take me with you. Or at least send me a postcard when you get to Perfection. I’ve heard it’s very nice there this time of year.