Mommy’s in the Doghouse

“Mo-om.” (In the whiny voice, unsurprisingly.) “Why do you just make me cry all the time?”

I had to laugh. “Dude, I have no idea.” For the past few days, any time I get a little stern with E, he says something like, “Mommy, you’re scaring me!” or “But now you’re really making me cry!” as he dissolves onto the floor.

Usually, this is followed by a tragic “I just want Daddy!”

At the moment, Mommy is simply not the cool one. Unlike Daddy, she is ALWAYS here, which is boring. She is more strict with treats and screen time and pretty much all the fun things. She raises her voice more than she means to, because she never gets proper sleep and is often (for multiple reasons) unable to nap. She is the one likely to silently say Screw it when there’s a meltdown and just scoop up her beloved firstborn and stick him in his room because she can’t listen to more crying. Most of all*, she is constantly saying things like

“I would love to play dinosaurs with you, but I’m changing the baby’s diaper,”** or

“I can read you one story, but then I have to get the laundry started,” or

“You know what, buddy? I’m very, very tired and I would not make a very good monster for the monster game,” or

“Sweetie, I only have the energy for ONE galloping contest right now, okay?” or

“You may not crash your cars right outside the bedroom where the baby’s napping,” or

“How many times do I have to tell you to be gentle with your sister??”

(When I say things he doesn’t like, he’ll fill with wretched indignation: “But… you’re just… INTERRUPTING me!” or “You just don’t UNDERSTAND me!!” Sometimes I’m pretty sure he’s fourteen.)

Anyway, you get the idea. Daddy makes a great monster. He is an expert at car-playing, dinosaur-roaring, tickling, you name it. When he’s working days and can put E to bed, he doesn’t have to keep interrupting things (like Mommy does) to deal with THAT BABY. When Daddy comes home, there’s a sitcom-worthy ecstatic run to the door: “Daddy, Daddy! Finally, you’re home!”

It’s no wonder that the last time E loaded up his Lego car with passengers, he included Daddy, himself, baby sister, and someone called “The Mayor” (WTF?), but there was no room for Mommy.

It’s not that I’m evil. So far, I have not been locked out of E’s room:

Left: “People who are nice can come in.” (Couple of false starts on the S in “NIS”.)
Right: “Locked for bad people.” (Can you tell which is the bad person?)

And today, he even invited me to an even specialer place:

“Mom, you wanna come live with me in my clubhouse and sit on my crazy contraption-chair?” Um, YES.

But I had to say no because I was cleaning the effing kitchen. {This kitchen is a giant rock, and I am Sisyphus. It feels like I do dishes ALL THE TIME and somehow my counters are still never clean.}

I can still kiss the hurt places. I can still invoke smiles by making silly rhymes. I can still help with colouring, as long as I use the approved colours. I’m hoping these are the things that stick with him in life, the times when Mommy was fun and full of love.

If not, maybe he can at least remember things like searching for his sunglasses with Daddy and observing, “If only I’d hit something with them, then Mama would’ve put them on the shelf, and I’d know where they were.” Chalk one up for consistent confiscation.

Sometimes Mommy is helpful, even when she’s not fun.


*E is loving the phrase “Most of all” right now. One day he and Daddy came home from the grocery store and he showed me each item in turn: “Most of all, we got all these cashews! And most of all, there’s triangle crackers! But most of ALL, look! Shreddies!!” It puts pizzazz into the humdrum.

**A friend of mine who also has a little boy and a baby girl once admitted on Facebook that their family was getting a dishwasher so that she wouldn’t be that mom who’s always saying, “Sorry, kiddo, I can’t play with you, I have to do the dishes.” I think of it often because I AM TOTALLY THAT MOM. Sigh.



25 thoughts on “Mommy’s in the Doghouse

  1. emerge says:

    a) “If only I’d hit something with them, then Mama would’ve put them on the shelf, and I’d know where they were.” LOLOLOLOLOLOL! Now I’m picturing E hitting things with sunglasses. Good to know he’s made the connection.

    b) You being in the doghouse is probably important for his development and means you’re a good mom. Of course he’ll remember you as Fun Awesome Mom, and will appreciate Confiscatey Housekeepy Mom as well.

    c) When I get home I can move back into the doghouse and you can be the good guy again.

    d) You doing dishes is not a bad thing when it comes to modelling, right – esp as E has a healthy respect for doing dishes. Or at least the kind of “doing dishes” that involves messing about with funnels and cups in a basin of water. (Maybe one day he’ll learn about the kind that involves making things cleaner than they started.)

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      We had a good laugh over a) as well. As for c), I’m afraid we might each have our own special doghouse… I told you when he’s mad at me, he often wishes for you, right? And I hope you’re right about d).

  2. LILI says:

    D, this post brought tears to my eyes because I just understand your frustrations. I get so sick of saying no because I have to do this or that, or worse say yes but then my heart is not into it because of (enter boring chore that HAS to be done- or because I am so tried). The kids don’t even really ask anymore. Though I know some of it is because there are many of them in the home to entertain each other. I know in my heart it is also because I’ve said no so many times.
    It’s so hard to find that balance. I want to have a clean clutter free home, and healthy meals for my family but I also want to be available for the kids and spend time with them.
    Bug hugs to the both of us…it’s hard work….I just hope that they always know how much we love them!

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Lili, I can only imagine it’s so much harder when there are four of them! More of everything, especially the chores! You’re amazing. And I can honestly say, as the third of four children, that I don’t remember my parents “playing” with me, but that I never felt neglected… I remember lots of quality time with them at other times, like bedtime stories and mealtimes. As for clutter-free… I have NO IDEA how anyone does that with kids in the house.

      Definitely hugs for both of us – and I think you’re right. I think the love does come through, in spite of it all. 🙂

  3. emerge says:

    e) I love the clubhouse!! I wanna go in there too!

    f) OMG I love the door signs. They remind me of our room door at 374. Was it his idea to make those and say those things?

  4. emerge says:

    g) Interrupting – man, I have wondered if he even quite knows what it means. I remember doing the Interrupting Cow joke (a long time ago) and it didn’t always quiiiite go as intended… but now it seems he says it when he is frustrated and doesn’t want me to talk. Even when he’s finished talking, if I say something he says I’m interrupting. Do I back down out of respect for his talking-time and boundaries and autonomy, or do i point out that in fact, I was NOT interrupting and dude, you’re freaking out just a little bit right now, knowing it will not help at all? Oy vey.

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Yeah – I think he does get it by now, since he’s mastered the joke, but he definitely uses it when it does not apply. Little turkey. It’s just as you say – he says it when he doesn’t like what you’re saying. And if I get annoyed and stop talking, then he’s like, “Mom!!! ANSWER ME!!!”

  5. Mama says:

    Oh, yeah, I was totally that mom. I did our dishes by hand till our fourth kid was 3. And is that what you remember about me? I’m sort of counting on you to say “No” here! And that will be a good thing for you to hear!

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      I barely remember the old kitchen at all, or you doing dishes by hand. I only have a few memories from before kindergarten, I think. But as I was saying to Lili, I never felt hard done by – playing with my siblings was great, and we had lots of other quality time with our parents. Most of my memories with you are homeschooling ones, but there’s also reading chapter books at bedtime, and making cookies together, and doing yard work with bonfires, and learning songs… 🙂 Good times.

  6. Amanda says:

    My kids used the whining phrase “you are huuuuuurting my feeeeeeelings” when I did something they didn’t like. It even worked on me a few times. I was the mom who often said screw the dishes they can wait or left laundry til the last outfit standing. That worked for me and I was okay with it. Some moms are not, I know quite a few. Bottom line is that you need to find what works for you. You are a GREAT mom! I wish I had small kids again so I could use many of your strategies and ideas.

    Matthew just said to me the other day “remember that time when…” He is nearly 19 and he remembers the good stuff and E will too!!


    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Hahaha – that’s a good one. Tug at those heartstrings. I have my own lines with mess – I can deal with quite a bit, but if my kitchen is not functional, it really gets to me more than any other place in the house.

      What you say about Matthew… that just makes me happy on so many levels. 🙂 <3

  7. Shannon says:

    Oh my goodness. I can only imagine what my life would be like with a toddler AND the baby. I’ll probably find out sooner rather than later. Poor you and poor E 🙁 But oh my goodness, I had the best laugh over the mayor being included in his car drawing, but no room for mommy. He’s hilarious and brilliant all at once.
    Shannon recently posted..Hey MacLean’s, I have a requestMy Profile

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Sooner rather than later…? Shan… are you telling us something??

      Actually I don’t even know how he knows what a “mayor” is. We had a chuckle over it too. Even better – the little Lego guy he used to represent his baby sister is the stubbly one! HA.

  8. Auntie CL says:

    My advice;
    1) have the girl first
    2) stop after 2
    3) don’t have a precocious, verbally brilliant child

    i did some but not all of these things…

  9. Rachel says:

    Wahooo, I made it into one of your blog posts!!! (at least I think that’s my facebook post you’re quoting, although I imagine others have felt the same way! 😉 And I actually just caught the dishwasher as it started onto the drying cycle which is one of the things that makes me feel a little less guilty about using it…because air drying is a much better use of energy!)

    I hear you on the challenge of balancing household chores with quality time with your kids. (And with the frustration that as the primary caretaker of both our children and the household we always have chores to do while Daddy seems to be freer to play!).

    I have actually come to loathe all those facebook posts with pictures of families having a great time and sayings like ‘your kids will never remember the house being messy’ or something along those lines… because the reality is that the chores do have to get done (at some point, everybody’s line is slightly different on how far they can let things go), and my SANITY depends on maintaining some semblance of order at least every now and then, and it’s just frustrating, for everyone!

    Elliot had a period of about 3 weeks a couple weeks ago where he’d finally had it with sharing me with his sister and didn’t want me out of his sight for one moment, to the point where he would yell at dada to go away, he needed mama! And it was incredibly draining for both of us dealing with his tantrums over my having to do things with baby Emily without him (due to him distracting her from nursing, for example). Thankfully it passed though, and now he seems to have swung back to preferring dada (for not being quite as strict about things as mama and doing far more interesting things!).

    Now however he’s always wanting me to play with him and gets so very ‘disappointed’ when I can’t and frustrated with me when I get ‘distracted’ (i.e. I go back to whatever task it was I was doing when he begged me to come play for ‘a few minutes’.)

    And so I try to allocate at least a couple 20 minute chunks of time in a day where it’s just him and me doing something fun together. It’s never enough for either of us but it’s about all I can seem to manage…

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Indeed it was you! I think of you often – what with us living semi-parallel lives and all. We really need to hang out – I’m sure our kids would get on wonderfully.

      Household dynamics are so hard, especially when the mom and dad roles end up being so different, for necessary reasons. You can’t really compare them, but both parties can easily end up feeling hard-done-by. And I agree about the sanguine “messy house” quotes, and how it’s linked to sanity… I mean, I can handle a certain amount of clutter, but if my kitchen is a mess for extended periods, it actually makes me depressed and saps my will to do other things.

      Ergh, sounds like a rough time with Elliot – and you can only explain so much in a rational way to a kid. Sometimes I forget how young my E is and how even though he understands a lot, he can reason through everything. I find sometimes it’s enough to keep him company while he plays (that’s what I’m doing right now, for instance) – I can “chat” with him and do something else concurrently. As long as there’s undivided attention once in a while, it works okay.

      I recommend reading “The Idle Parent” (I have a blog post brewing about this book) – although I don’t agree with every point, the author makes you feel a lot better about letting kids do their own thing. 🙂

      Hugs to all of you!

  10. Mary Snow says:

    We just bought a dishwasher! Can’t wait to see if/how it will revolutionize our lives…

    Looking forward to your “Idle Parent” blog. I think when I recommended it, I also prefaced it by saying I also didn’t agree with every point, but I do love the overall philosophy of trying not to micromanage your children and allowing them to flourish on their own time and imagination.

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Yeah, you did mention that you didn’t agree with everything, so it was good to read it with that in mind. I felt the same, but overall it was one of the more thought-provoking parenting books I’ve read, for sure! And I enjoyed the overall idea too. Makes the life balance a bit more achievable, I think.

  11. emerge says:

    At the book club I went to last night most of the women had their kids in the same preschool, so they all got the same Mother’s Day stuff from their kids from school, and they compared notes. There was a little card or something that had sentences on it like “I love my mommy because she_______” or “My mommy loves to _______”. One of the moms said that for the blank in “My mommy is usually_____” her son put “cleaning the house” and another mom’s said she is “usually going to the bathroom.” Another’s said that she loves to watch tv and drink beer – *neither* of which she does often. Point being – who the heck knows what your kid thinks! Haaaha.

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