It happened during a routine rerun of “Everybody Loves Raymond”. I was sitting innocently enough in my favorite chair, winding down before bedtime, watching Ray’s mom Marie have a spell. She’d had it up to here (raises hands and draws line above head) with the household state of affairs.
With complete exasperation, she asks rhetorically, “Why must I do everything?!?”
And that’s when it happened — when Colton muttered, “that sounds like someone I know.”
Wait. What? Had I just heard what I think I heard?
Which set off an immediate chain of follow up questions. Questions like, “what is that supposed to mean?” Apparently, it means I have a propensity to get flabbergasted from time to time. To have a spell of my own when overwhelmed — which is typically when I’m in the middle of cleaning, preparing for guests, or otherwise trying to recreate HGTV in my own living spaces.
I gotta tell ya. At first I was a bit miffed at Colton’s response, not to mention how immediately and effortlessly he’d offered it. I was offended that the otherwise sweet innocent child of mine would suddenly turn on me like a zero-turn carpet sweeper.
Until I realized that it was true. I have been known to over-react from time to time.
Moreover, these over-reactions true for every mother I know. It’s a war cry of sorts. The ultimate martyr’s statement that translates into every language. I dare say it’s the reason that terms like, “this room is a pigsty”, “you weren’t raised in barn” and “you better hope I don’t have to clean it” came into being.
Typically speaking, this state of exasperation isn’t brought on by worst-case-mess scenarios (although it can be). Usually it’s sparked when finding a candy wrapper between the couch cushions, or picking up the empty milk jug from the door of the refrigerator. Sometimes it’s triggered by tripping over a pair of size 12 shoes in the hallway.
Under normal conditions, those minor infractions elicit a “you need to throw away/put away” response.
But as any mother knows, those same spotless-house-destroying offenses are also capable of setting off a doomsday if-this-then-that reaction — if I find a candy wrapper in the couch cushions, that means I’ve taught my child nothing, the house will never be clean again, and people on the other side of the world are going to starve because of it.
That’s right, I said it. Because every mother has thought it.
Now before you have a spell, I’m not condoning the actions of those around us, but rather examining our responses to those actions. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize this is an area where I could improve as a person and a mom.
I could refrain from over-reacting to the wet towel and underwear in the middle of bathroom floor. I could even pick up the empty cereal box off the counter and throw it away. Or I could pick my battles wisely, breaking this martyr’s cycle of motherhood once and for all.
Which begs the question. Must I do everything?!