Stay-at-Home Panda

Stay-at-Home Panda

An adventure of triumphs and troubles as a mother, wife, and woman

The Unconditional Love of Children

Last night, as we were on our way home from visiting family, we stopped at Panera Bread. It’s fall, and I don’t care if we’re in Florida, and it’s 90 degrees. I wanted some soup. We had a long car ride ahead of us, and perhaps we should have gone through a drive through instead, but I wanted quality time with my boys. I wanted to dunk my bread into my bowl of broccoli cheddar while staring into their eyes, and listening to every word they said.

You see, I felt this mixture of irritability and guilt all day. It was the endless demands of my home and children that made me irritable, and the irritability itself that made me feel guilty. Now that I work full time, most days we wake up with the grand goal of getting out the door asap. I spend a lot of time rushing them places, and answering their questions and listening to their thoughts while doing a million other things. When we get home, I have just a couple hours with them before bedtime. Not hours that consist solely of hanging and cuddling, but also cleaning, making dinner, and cleaning again. And no, my house never looks clean despite the cleaning.

The weekends come with great hope for family time and relaxation, and these days literally energize me in preparation for another week. However, yesterday, Ash woke up before it was barely 6am. I handed him my phone, hoping to get a few more restful minutes, but twelve seconds later, Javin was awake too. I knew it was too early for them. I could tell by the whine in their tones. And although I told them they couldn’t get out of bed until they gave me hugs and kisses, in no time I was barking, “If you’re going to talk like that, go back to bed!” This isn’t how I wanted to spend our Saturday morning, but when Javin shook his palms, crying, “I TOLD you I want to wash my hands. TURN THE WATER ON! I TOLD YOU NOT TO LEAVE ME! UGHhhhhhh.” I refuse, because 1.) he is not helpless and 2.) I can’t be talked to like that.

I headed downstairs, thinking about what we were going to do before going to our cousin’s baby shower, and I didn’t even need to look around to see couch cushions still strewn about from the night before, and mounds of clean clothes heaped on our crusty old love seat that I hate more and more everyday. It’s not the only pile of clean clothes either. I have a huge basket in the guest room, another in the master, and still a dyer full. I can’t find anything, and it seems easier to go to Target for what I need then find the things I already own.

But who am I kidding? Going to a store isn’t easy either. If it was I wouldn’t be driving around with two pairs of pants I want to return in my passenger seat, which have been there for at least two weeks. If running errands was so simple I would have actually mailed all those pictures I put in envelopes and addressed to our family members, but that was a whole month ago, and still they’re in my bag, getting toted between school, home, and the car. By the time I mail them, my children will probably look different.

As I was getting ready for the baby shower, my attitude was so sour from the dirty toilets and collection of dust balls, that Josh, who had just gotten home from work, actually dressed the boys, combed their hair, and buckled them in their seats. He was so run down from working nights that his throat was on fire and his temperature was warm, so of course he wasn’t taking the trek with us. He had a date with his bed. Just as he kissed us goodbye and I was about to pull away Jav says, “I’m hungry.”

Oh yeah, I forgot to feed the kids, but I had a couple of clementines and packages of pirate’s booty, so lunch was served. As I merged onto the interstate, the requests from the back seat were relentless. “Mommmmmmm, I dropped my book. Can you pick it up?” I tell him I’m driving and can’t, but he says, “You can. I know you can because you just did it a minute ago.” They drop their snacks and toys, their tags are itchy, Ash wants his flip flops on, Jav wants to know exactly how many days till his birthday and is unhappy with the answer, and then they fight over the water bottle. Eventually Ash dozes off, and I took the opportunity to call my brother back. He was on speaker, and as soon as his leaf blower blasted through our side of the phone, Ash was back awake. I hoped a two minute nap would suffice for the day, but I knew better.

I felt so wound up that I called my mom so she could tell me to let it go. I told her how grouchy I’ve been and how sad it makes me to be this way during my time with my kids. Then I said to her, but mostly to myself, “I know it’s not too late to have a good day.” And that’s exactly the reason we stopped for a Panera Bread date on the way home.

I didn’t know I’d be telling them not to jump on the seats over and over again, but I get it, they have a great boing in them and would tempt anyone under 4 feet tall. “But still, we’re in a restaurant,” I explained. We took our conversation about proper etiquette to the bathroom, because, like they do in every public place, they had to poop. When we returned, Ash didn’t like a single thing we’ve ordered, but ate some of the chicken off my salad even though he was pissed that it was cold. It started to storm outside, and as Javin looked up from his soup he said, “I’m glad we’re family. Sometimes I think we’re the greatest family in the world.”

It was enough to make me tear up because I was having such a bad mommy day, but all he thought is how great we are. I took peace in knowing that my children don’t need me to be perfect, they just need me to be who I am. They gladly take the whole package, and love me as unconditionally as I love them.

About Amanda Elder

Amanda has a background in education, but now spends most of her time snuggling her kids, wiping their butts, and doing house chores in her underwear.

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