I must be. Really, I must be. Because, you see, my daughter told me she hated me in front of an entire room of catechists.
Tonight was a mandatory catechist meeting. Mandatory. There was one earlier in the day at 10 a.m., but I was working at the time. Moderating a webinar. Not something I could fake or postpone. So I was stuck with tonight’s session. My husband had school, so I had both kids. I tried to get a sitter, but no one was available. So I went, two kids in tow, to the mandatory meeting. It was a horror show.
Little Girl? Well, she was her usual nutty two-year-old self. Talking, moving around, refusing to sit in the stroller with her blankie, opening and closing the loud metal cabinet. I was dying. After about 35 minutes of shushing and walking in and out of the room to explain she can only have blankie in the stroller or on my lap, I finally get her situated on my lap when I glance over at Big Girl. Rolling on the floor reading, her pants half way down so her underweared tush is exposed. Then she starts mindlessly hitting the metal cabinet with her foot. The one wearing a shoe. (Couldn’t have been the foot that was missing a shoe, right?) So I reached down and grabbed her calf, digging my fingers in slightly to get her attention. She jumped up, made what I call the evil face, and seethed at me, “I HATE you, Mommy! You’re SO MEAN.”
I wanted to die. Everyone turned around. Not just nameless, faceless people. No, my fellow catechists. My neighbors. People I am friends with on Facebook. People who I had playdate with when Big Girl was in preschool. People who I sat with at parties. I wanted to drop through the floor. I wanted to just leave both kids there and run off into the night. But I stayed. And listened to how the religious ed coordinator got the kids to understand sin and reconciliation by collecting and saving a rock for every one of her sins for a month (or was it a year?). How she wrote the date on each sin rock. How she gave them out to the kids to let them know how we all sin and how God forgives us. Hmmm…
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been years since my last confession. Tonight I was a terrible mother. I wanted to hit my child. I was cold to her when we got home because I was afraid of what might come out of my mouth if I spoke to her. I did not rock my baby or give her a hug because I was so angry my body was rigid. I overreacted to my kids’ misbehaving. I let it personally affect me. I am trying to be perfect, and I am not perfect. Far from it. Still, if I was a better catechist, my daughter wouldn’t hate me, right? A more pious person would get more respect at home.
The night only got worse when Big Girl decided that she didn’t want Little Girl touching her DS. So it was perfectly fine for her to walk in circles at the back of the room telling me, again, how mean I was. We finally left and got to the car. I drove home numb, threw the baby into the crib, and called my husband at school. He had already gotten my screed-y email bemoaning the fact that I feel like I am pounding my head up against a wall. He tried to talk me down. He told me that the kid was wrong, and that he would dole out a punishment. He told me to go show the kid I loved her. Because even though she acted that way, I love her, and I need to show her that I love her. Then he asked me why I took on Brownies and religion and PTA projects like the book fair I signed up for when we are pushed to the limit right now. That a woman with two kids who works full-time and has a husband who is going to school at night and recuperating from a significant operation (read: not able to chip in to the fullest right now) should not be doing even one of the three much less all three activities.
And now it’s the aftermath. Big Girl is sleeping. Little Girl is sleeping. My husband is still at school. I have a headache. And a 3,000 word assignment to write.
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned again. It’s been four minutes since my last confession. I thought about running away again. Oh, and I cursed myself for taking on too much. Can you cut a catechist some slack?