Last week was one of those weeks. One of those weeks where I call my husband up on the phone barely managing to maintain my composure (I didn’t maintain it for very long) while I unload overwhelmed, end-of-my-rope feelings about being the mother of my two little girls. I felt like it had been escalating for the last few weeks–the bickering between them; the short, grumpy tones that I had no idea they could use; the lazy response to me asking them to do something. I felt like I was losing control, running out of my mother-ammo (if you don’t _______, then _______ will happen). It was just like that commercial with the invisible mother–folding laundry, making dinner. I was feeling a bit invisible when it came to my children, as if I was no longer speaking a language they could understand, or as if I was talking to them from inside a plastic tub, so that all they heard was muffled sounds coming from across the room.
And the bickering. One morning I actually thought, if only I had referee stripes and a whistle. That would be perfect for me! I can’t tell you how many times I heard, "not fair!", "I had that first!", and witnessed toy tug-of-war and pushing and shoving. Where the heck was this coming from? ….sometimes I ignored it, sometimes I got involved too soon. Ugh.
So, enough of the gory details. I’m sure all of us can relate. At least I sure hope so. Or else I’m going to start panicking about my parenting skills.
When I got off the phone with Dan that day last week, he said one of the most important things I needed to hear: "Molly, you’ve got the hardest job in the world." That helped. It gave me a big breath of new air in my lungs. I hung up the phone, cleaned up my mascara smears and came back into the room with the girls. As I looked across the room, something caught my attention–the television.
I quietly unplugged it, carried it into the closet, came back for the DVD player, wound up the cord and carried it back to the closet too. The girls watched quietly, too. "Mommy’s throwing away the TV, Mary." I told them I wasn’t throwing it away, just putting it away until things got a little more peaceful around the house. Until everyone treated each other more kindly and was more helpful and caring toward each other. And let me tell you–it’s working. It’s working really well.
Now for the record, I’m not anti-television. I have some opinions about it, and I question whether the medium of television can really be educational, but I’m not the type to look down on anyone for popping in a video or turning on PBS in order to get 30 minutes of peace. In fact, I was scared to death to lock up my television, worried that I’d never get dinner made or a blog read ever again.
For my children, it seems like the TV is a vacuum. It sucks them in and they can’t pull away. If it had a hose, they’d probably have dark purple, circular suction-bruises in the center of their foreheads. (don’t we all know someone who’s done that?) And before I know it, they’ve been sitting, fogged over, in front of it longer than I care to admit. And when it’s not on, all they whine for is when it will be turned on again.
This is the second time I’ve "locked up" the TV, and both times I’ve been amazed at the results–the immediate results. Our home has become so much more peaceful. And I’m getting more quiet, peaceful time than I could have imagined. They’re quickly finding things to do, and do together–which I love. Granted it might mean bigger messes because every pillow in the house is on the living room floor or blankets have been removed from all the beds to build a clubhouse, but gosh, I love it. It’s the peace of play. And that was missing in our little lives.
**if you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. I write this to remind myself of the before, the why and the how it’s working. And I also write it to catch up with you all–my blogging friends. If we were out for coffee together, I’m sure this is what I’d need to unload. Thanks for staying to the end….
Oh, and the pictures: just a few little things I catch them doing "tv-less" and things we’re doing together–like painting those cute little fingernails the faintest shade of glittery pink…***