Sometimes, it takes a complete stranger to give you perspective.
THO wanted to look at pickup trucks at a CarMax in Pflugerville, so... we went. I have to admit I'm not wild about getting a truck right now, since the mileage is lousy on most of them, but I do recognize the necessity, and besides, it was just to look, not buy. So, we loaded up the kids and drove to Pflugerville, which is about a 45 minute drive from where we live.
I expected the kids to be a bit restless, which was why this was just a look and not buy trip. Learned our lesson when we bought the minivan... do not bring the kids with us to buy a car.
Well, they were glad to be out of the car, and were more than willing to climb in and out of the truck THO wanted to look at in particular, and I'm sure it didn't help that I had a pounding headache. Still, I didn't have to fuss that much, mostly, "Settle down," and "No, you may not climb over the backs of the seats!" I didn't have to fuss at them (meaning mostly at the Impertinent Daughter) for picking at each other. Still, I guess the headache magnified things for me, and I felt they were being the Most Horrible Children in the History of Horrible Children.
It was when we were done and getting ready to leave that the salesman turned to me and said, "Your children are really well behaved."
I automatically put on my Patient Mom face and turned to say something like, "Next time I'll feed them a bag of sugar before we come," or "Don't worry, we'll leave and never come back," because I was expecting sarcasm, and didn't realize it wasn't there. Fortunately, the Husbandly One swooped in before Auntie could drop a brick and said, "Thank you. You know, we don't often get compliments about our kids."
The salesman nodded and said, "They're energetic, but it's pretty obvious they love each other. I'm just watching the way they're acting, and even though they're getting into things, they do stop the moment y'all tell them to. And they're teasing each other, but I don't see any hair pulling or shin kicking. They're teasing each other, because they like each other, you know."
And all of a sudden, all the things that they were doing that had been so magnified by my headache shrank down and I saw that they were actually being pretty good.
We went to eat after that, and I sat there kind of bemused, watching both the kids as I ate, listening to them talking to each other, and to THO, and thinking, wow, am I just bracing myself constantly for them to be badly behaved, or overly excited, and therefore setting myself up for it all?
Maybe I need to loosen up a little.
Maybe I need to realize that the little talks we have before we go anywhere, where I tell them what behavior will be acceptable and what will not, like climbing onto displays or cartwheeling down aisles, are actually working, and they're both old enough to know how to behave now without those talks. And without my having to constantly fuss.
That or maybe I need some really heavy tranquilizers!
The thought occurs to me, too, that I need more one-on-one time with each child, too. Because when I run errands, or do things with just one kid, well... it's enjoyable, and less fraught with the competition of trying to get more of Mom's attention.
Like I said, sometimes, it takes a stranger...
If I seem distant and lost in thought today, well... I'm just thinkin' things over...