Groundhog Day in the Trenches of Parentville

Over the years my kids have sung my praises for some of the strangest reasons on record. Stuff that I would never have pegged as especially impressive or particularly noteworthy has apparently contributed to my so-called “awesome factor.” In my children’s eyes I’ve been viewed as such anyway. No one could be more stunned by this news than I, having resigned myself to being viewed primarily as the resident taskmaster and bedtime enforcer.

Indeed, it has come to my attention that occasionally I wow Thing One and Thing Two with what I consider to be merely pedestrian deeds. Case in point: I can mimic the cries of a mourning dove, whistle on a blade of grass and wing a mean Frisbee on command.

Further, I’ve been known to skip stones ad infinitum, to crawl inside blanket forts with glee and to wile away the hours creating sidewalk chalk villages that, evidently, are to die for. What’s more, I allow a certain couple of sombodies to concoct vats of whateverness in the kitchen sink and to commission discarded fry pans as sleds—a small price to pay in the name of thwarting boredom, methinks.

Likewise, I fashioned a board game once (because, of course, it begged to be borne) and I made up perhaps the most ludicrous math fact activity in existence—involving, of all things, the severed head of a dilapidated and otherwise forsaken doll. Who knew my progenies would deem my peculiar “talents” as nuggets of parental wonderfulness?

“Not I,” said the oblivious one.

At any rate, I am pleased to have met with at least some measure of success in the trenches of Parentville (i.e. my kids actually like me some of the time and believe that I didn’t just crawl out from under the Stupid Rock, contrary to popular belief). Indeed, it’s those completely undeserved and unprompted “Mom, you’re awesome!” moments that I savor most, squeezing every drop of goodness from the wellspring of their minds.

There are other, seemingly interminable moments, however, that shove me to the brink of lunacy, compelling me to step into my Mommie Dearest shoes wherein I implode over the most asinine of child-related transgressions (i.e. the proverbial wire hanger scene). It is precisely then that I am filled not only with feelings of guilt and frustration, but also with an overwhelming sense of being misunderstood and unappreciated as a mom. As one who constantly picks up shoes, bath towels and sodden snow pants; empties backpacks, fills snack bags and remembers library books et al.; scrubs chunks of toothpaste from the sink, mates sweat socks galore and rids the world of hamster poo and massive quantities of decomposed fruit. Joy.

It’s not as if my charges are incapable of performing the abovementioned duties. Nor do they balk when I demand that said things be done. I guess it’s the repetitive nature of the task that gets my goat. The necessity of repeating: “Please carry your dishes to the sink…push in your chair…hang up your coat…rinse your retainer…turn off the light…shut the door…clean your room…and for the love of God flush the toilet!”

Sometimes it feels as if I’m trapped in a vicious cycle of parenthood, living the same hideous wedge of time over and over again—much like Groundhog Day, the 1993 comedic film starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Time and again, I go through the paces, having the same conversations, making the same idle threats, picking up the same slack. Needless to say, the natural consequences I’ve employed in the past for inaction have been, at best, pathetic attempts to change behavior. I’m the one who stubs her toe on the rogue chair, steps in the pool of slush now seeping into the carpet and trips over the stupid shoes in the hallway.

Like the flick, it seems, much of the frustration I feel can be traced to a groundhog named Phil. Indeed, I’m hoping that later today that celebrated rodent of yore will crawl back into the hole from whence he came (having viewed his shadow, or not), causing my day in the trenches to end and February 3rd to commence. Better still (i.e. if the gods of whistle pigs are smiling upon me), perhaps I’ll harvest something worthwhile from my failed attempts to motivate my brood, promising a better tomorrow for all.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (on Groundhog Day and every day).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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1 Comment

Filed under The Natives are Decidedly Restless

One response to “Groundhog Day in the Trenches of Parentville

  1. I think you hit upon the most frustrating part of being a parent. It is enough to make me go Gestapo on him at times.

    “It’s not as if my charges are incapable of performing the abovementioned duties. Nor do they balk when I demand that said things be done. I guess it’s the repetitive nature of the task that gets my goat.”

    When it gets too bad, I changed tactic and hit him where it seems to make impact. I charge him a quarter every time I have to repeat a request. I total these up and deducted from his chore “salary.”

    It’s a pilot for now, but has made some improvement. He stops to think about clean up a bit more instead of racing off to the next thing.