It was one of those days when I was done. Just done. My husband was out of town for the week, I’d had the worst night of sleep in recent memory, had to get up extremely early for a job I didn’t like where I spent three hours outdoors in the sun in the Phoenix summer heat, and finally came home to three of (what felt like) the most difficult, pestering, nagging children in the world.
“Mom, why can’t I watch “Ninjago”? Gabe got to watch a show this morning and I didn’t!”
“Mom, can I have a brownie? Why noooooooot?”
“Mom, where did you put my shoes? Yes, you did too move them!”
You know the character Anger in the Pixar movie “Inside Out”? For an accurate image of my emotional state in that moment, you’ll need to picture him as a 35-year-old woman, mouth an open cave of rage, scorching yellow flames blowing out the top of my head. I lost it and it wasn’t pretty.
I retreated to my room to calm myself. I can do this, I reasoned. I can handle the rest of this day.
No, I can’t, my brain countered. My husband is out of town and there’s no one else I can ask to give me a break right now. I…can’t…do…this…anymore.
It was then that I came up with the idea that was either utter genius or utter rubbish: for the rest of this one day, I would allow my kids to do whatever they wanted. Let nature run its course, so to speak. I’d stay in the house, of course, to be on hand should they attempt anything truly dangerous, but other than that, for me it would be a good book, a glass of wine, and the comfort of my bed. You want to watch 10 episodes of Ninjago? Be my guest. You want that brownie? All yours, buddy. Just leave me alone.
I returned to the living room to inform my kids of the plan. My youngest, age six, initially started to cry in confusion. “You mean you’re not taking care of us anymore?” she sobbed. I assured her that I would still be her mommy and take care of her forever and always – it was just this one day that I needed a break.
My eight- and 10-year-old sons were incredulous.
“You mean we…