IMPATIENT: restless or short of temper especially under irritation, delay, or opposition
In my previous existence as a mostly-stay-at-home-mom, I would occasionally encounter The Others. Society calls them Working Mothers, but saying “working” before “mother” is redundant. It’s like saying “mother with children.”
But, I digress.
The Others and I would occasionally cross paths.
Not at the grocery store because The Others go on Sundays or after work with all the other harried folks rather than during off-peak shopping hours. And, not at the zoo, aquarium, science center or other kid hangouts, because they go on weekends rather than mid-week.
But, The Others and I would sometimes see each other. Out to dinner, at library story time, when I needed “just one thing” for the recipe I was making.
They are easy to recognize. They wear shoes chosen according to their outfit rather than their chore list. Their clothing requires ironing. They accessorize. Their hair is styled and they appear to have recently showered. And (the former me smugly noted), they are often impatient with their children.
I remember thinking, “Geez. You hang out with grown-ups all day. You only have to put up with your kid(s) for a few hours a day. Why are you losing your temper and getting huffy? After all, you’ve been soaking up grown-up conversation all day, spent hours having your back patted for your intellectual prowess and probably took a yoga class on your lunch break. You’ve only got to keep it together for 180 minutes. How hard can it be?”
Pretty darn hard, it turns out.
I take it all back.
I have been humbled. Brought low.
I get it.
Or, at least I 24-hours-a-week get it. I’m sure I’ll need to issue another retraction when I become a 40-hours-a-week working mother with children.
I find myself absolutely exhausted after a work day. I get on a 5:30 bus, arrive at the office in the dark and start working away. I work hard with few breaks until 4pm. Then I hop back on a bus and hustle to pick Daughter up from daycare. She gripes when I don’t allow her to stay on the playground and negotiates for “one more slide.” Doesn’t she understand that it’s five o’clock and if I don’t pick up Son, cook dinner and feed them both in the next half hour things are going to get ugly? So, it’s off to Son’s school we go. There the greeting is less than ideal. I’m acknowledged with a groan and crossed arms. He’s mad that I’m crashing the party, ruining his fun. Inevitably, he’s in the middle of something more fun that walking home and cooking dinner.
But, we leave. We walk home, usually with Daughter crying from some perceived injustice and Son in a huffy silence. This is the point where I begin deep breathing.
We enter the house, unload backpacks, tackle homework, sign permission slips and consider book orders. I get dinner started and set the table while Son and Daughter complain about how hungry they are. I provide a snack to keep the peace. Dinner is done. We eat. Well, I eat…Son or Daughter (heaven help me if it’s both of them) find something unsatisfactory about the dinner I’ve just cooked. More deep breathing and a few stern warnings about the need for gratitude.
Play time, bath time, story time, bed time – all done with a sprinkling of whining and resistance.
So it goes…three days a week.
So, yeah. If you walk by my house between five and eight o’clock you may hear an impatient mother using her children’s middle names. It’s only 180 minutes. But, that’s like saying to a marathon runner “it’s only a mile” in mile 25. It is indeed, only a mile. But it’s the miles before that make it hurt.
To my former clan, please be kind to The Others. It turns out shoes that match your outfit make your back hurt and there is very little back-patting for intellectual feats of strength.
And, they don’t do nearly as much yoga as we imagined.