Monday, June 29, 2009

The 90/10 Rule

Have you ever found yourself exhibiting high quantities of patience throughout the day, only to finally lose it before bedtime, destroying any harmony you worked so hard to maintain throughout the long, arduous day?

This phenomenon is what I call the 90/10 Rule, and it's literally the story of my life. Let me explain further.
I wake up in the morning, happy to experience life and be a mother. I am optimistic, singing and whistling and speaking to my children in happy, light-hearted tones. Then the whining begins. Followed by the fits. Followed closely behind by the fighting, which is followed by the begging for snacks and friends. My nerves a bit frazzled, I float through the house, solving every problem and softly but firmly redirecting all negative behaviors. I am like a goddess, fluidly working around each obstacle with ease and finesse, and above all, patience.

By noon, I am a bit tired. It's time for lunch and I barely got breakfst cleaned up. The whining has increased, as has the incessant complaints that "there's nothing to do." I fix a lunch nobody likes (including myself), all the while giving myself pep talks inside my head in hopes I can keep my cool and ramain a calm, well-collected mother.

The afternoon passes slowly, a combination of kids running in and out, leaving doors open, making messes we just spent the morning cleaning up, grabbing snacks they weren't authorized to grab, passing them out to the neighborhood, fighting about who got the most or the biggest snack, and on and on. My reserves are beginning to wear down a bit, but still I manage to take deep breaths and remind myself this is what having children entails; and besides, it's summer, so I should relax a bit and let my kids be kids.
It's now time to make dinner. I haven't thought about it all day and have no idea what to make. My husband will be home soon, hoping for something satisfying to eat and for a peaceful, enjoyable evening with his family. I feel the pressure. By now, the kids are pulling at my pant legs, whining more than ever, and I'm feeling just as tired as they are. I juggle putting together a make-shift dinner with refereeing fights between siblings and meeting the demanding needs of my toddler, all while trying to keep my wits about me. I'm counting the minutes until a reinforcement (my husband) arrives.
My husband walks in (late, of course). It's complete chaos. The house is diseheveled, the kids are fighting, dinner isn't ready, I'm holding on by a thread. I still manage to pull it together somehow.
Then bedtime rolls around. My nerves are raw. I'm tired, and so are the children. They begin to resist the bedtime routine, and . . .
I lose it!
I raise my voice, threaten, and stomp through the house on a small rampage. It's over in a matter of minutes, but still, the damage is done. All the patience I exhibited throughout the day disappears as though it never happened, and I am left feeling disappointed in myself as a mother.
It's then my husband looks at me in either of two ways: 1-like he' as scared of me as the children are, or 2-like he wishes I would handle things better.
I send myself to my bedroom, shut the door, and promise myself tomorrow I will make it through 100% of the day with my sanity in tact.

Sound the least bit familiar? It's the 90/10 rule, and it's amazing how consistently it appears in my life. I can't number the times I've told my husband that if he could only have seen what a wonderful mother I was while he was gone all day, he'd be thrilled and amazed. It's completely unfortunate that he happens to be home when the ten percent makes its appearance. The only glitch with that explanation is when the weekend arrives and life begins looking more like 60/40 than 90/10, and my husband is home all day to witness it.
Oh well, all I can say is that I was patient for close to 90% of the week!
Below are pictures of my two-year-old when he had his tonsils out this past week--when my 90/10 may have been more like 80/20. The surgery went well, and he's done great, except for the agitation and fits. I'm afraid my nerves have been raw all too often lately.

Boston--before surgery, listening to his heart--my sweet little boy

Boston--right before they wheeled him away--that adorable little smile has not come back since!

After surgery--sleeping with Daddy (before the fits started).


Taffy and Tony said...

You always hit it right on the head, Lori! This sounds EXACTLY like my life! Thanks for putting to words what I'm feeling. Reading your posts is my therapy session that I can't afford to pay for!

Melanie said...

I'm thinking 90/10 is really quite amazing....It's when they are driving me crazy before 10am that I get worried about the rest of the day.

Dixie said...

:)I remember those years.

Julie Summerhays said...

Well, you are doing better than me - mine hits around 11:00am! But I totally agree about the husband seeing me only angry - too true:) I didn't know Boston had surgery - poor guy - hope he gets better soon!!

Tucker and Kira said...

I know this rule all to well. What I like to do is get the "10" out of the way right away. Wake up yelling, so by noon I'm so sick of it and my throat hurts too much to do it any more, my kids "get the message"!
Hope Boston is doing well now!

Becky said...

Oh I am so grateful I am not the only one. I think Mont must think I am crazy with how I act some nights when he gets home. I'm sure we will look back and miss these days.