When This Mama blogger April Flores had a bad day, she leaned on her wife, Jen Simmons, for support. The two compare notes on the day and the dynamics of parenting.
I felt helpless and it was only 10:30 a.m.
Danny kept crying and screaming during Tiempo Con Mis Amigos, a free Spanish song class for infants and toddlers that I lead every Friday. It generally goes very well, but this time my son made me feel like I couldn’t control him or his soon-to-be three-year-old emotions. I just wanted Justin Tucker to come and kick me through the uprights to end the game.
Instead, I placated Danny and Lucas, my son’s best friend and my daily charge, with a Dum Dum at the end of my first class. That gave me 10 minutes of peace, but the second session went just as horribly as the first thanks to Dannyboy. The ladies in attendance were patient and understanding. In a gesture of solidarity, one woman even tried tipping me at the end of my last class.
Per our Friday ritual, we proceeded to Smaltimore for lunch. The boys devoured their food then started running laps throughout the bar. The clientele wasn’t impressed with their rowdy behavior and it made me feel even worse. I wrangled my little fellas out of Smaltimore and off we went to Bmore Licks.
Part of me wanted badly to skip our treat spot because Danny had been a handful and wasn’t deserving of Grade A ice cream. But my kid knows our rituals and I would’ve been stuck listening to his deafening and annoying protests all the way home had we skipped the stop. Plus, after putting up with Danny all morning, I needed the ice cream.
We stopped for a treat and the whining continued; I just kept thinking, “I’m toast. So done. Get home fast!” I phoned my wife and she offered to make me a margarita. I didn’t care that it was barely 1:30 p.m., I knew I could rally my friends to share a drink with me.
Arriving home, there was no margarita ready for me, adding more frustration to my already frustrating day. I made my way to the kitchen to start mixing my own drink and Lucas said he had to poop. But Danny was on the potty, so I told him to wait. I pulled out the tequila and Lucas said, “I pooped.” I looked up and saw that mortified and sad little face of his and knew he wasn’t lying. I looked down on our rug and there it was, staring me right in the face.
I’m not sure what woke me up, but I was staring at the wall when I got my wife’s texts, just before 2 p.m.: “I am so done with Danny today.” “He’s been a Grade A jerk.”
This was really uncharacteristic of my wife. Her patience for and resolve around children is limitless, as far as I can see. She is the point person for the whole neighborhood. There are usually two to seven kids in my living room. She is everyone’s pop-off valve.
“Sorry, honey. Bring him to That Mama. I’ll give you a break,” I replied.
“Nope. I got him. We are on our way home and he’s going straight to timeout.”
“Do you want a margarita?” I asked, slightly in jest. April was on the clock, as she is a full-time nanny and it was still a few hours until Lucas would get picked up.
“Yep. I’ve wanted one since 10:30.”
OK, this was serious. It was time to get up and get ready to be in charge of the kids. And get downstairs to make my wife a drink so that she can forget about parenting for a minute.
I’m an ICU nurse and work permanent nights. So this call to action, for me, was like when your kid wakes up at 2 am and won’t go back to sleep. You know you’ll pay for the time away from your pillow at some point.
I consider myself an incredibly lucky working mother. More often than not, I feel more simpatico with the dads on our block: I feel the pressures of being the primary wage winner, the person in charge of insurance and savings. But there is another authority to defer to in all household matters and I have a supportive role at home. I try to do the dishes, put away the laundry and tidy up when I can.
I know that it’s a “Jen Job” to get Danny bathed and ready for bed each night, as April’s evenings to herself are sacrosanct. But I’m not a dad, I’m a working mom. The time I spent with Danny as an infant has given me incredible insight into how difficult — how impossibly difficult — it often is to be in the presence of your own tiny flesh and blood day in and day out. I have been tapped out from this frequently. But I had never seen April reach her boiling point like she seemingly had today.
So I rolled out of bed, got dressed, brushed my teeth and went downstairs to make a margarita, just in case April was serious. But then she was already home, on fire, and disappointed. Shoot. Already a fail. I attempted to push her out of the kitchen where she was mixing her own margarita, “Go sit on the couch! I’ll bring this to you!” when we heard Lucas.
I abandoned her drink in the kitchen. She makes better margaritas than me anyway. I lifted Lucas at arm’s length and carried him upstairs for a bath.
Need a code brown cleaned up? Sounds like a job for the nurse.
Jen scooped up Lucas and I finished mixing two margaritas then quietly and quickly exited my home and sat on my stoop to breathe. One of my dear friends immediately joined me.
That put it into perspective.
I know that no matter how terrible a day I’ve had, I will always have her, my wife, and many other strong women on my block to lean on. After sharing a drink and our daily recap on the stoop, my terrible day didn’t seem so poopy after all.