Monday, November 23, 2009


It feels like I spend a great deal of my time waiting. Just waiting. Sitting in my room surfing the internet, not really getting any work done because at any moment Queen Teen will yell for me to come and help her with something. She can't find her book, or her little puppy figurine. She wants to play with her Groovy Girls but can't get the box down from the shelf by herself. She sneezed but can't find the tissue box. About every ten to fifteen minutes Queen Teen will call me and I will drop whatever I'm doing to see what she needs.

I've tried relaxing and just doing what I want, not worrying about the moment she calls me. Maybe I can sit down and read a text-book, or work on my novel, or fold ALL the laundry at one time. But what usually happens is that I get so frustrated with the constant interruptions that I give up on doing anything that requires too much concentration, like my homework. I do my homework in the morning, or when she's watching a DVD (thank goodness for Sponge Bob!). At night, I wait for her to go to sleep because if I try to go to bed before then she'll pull me out of bed with more needs: she can't get comfy, her pj's are twisted, she needs a drink of water, her hair is in her face.

As soon as she gets on the school bus, the clock is ticking. I rush around trying to get everything done before she comes home, which is impossible, but it makes me great at time management. I've had 14 years of practice. Right now I'm not working, but that will change when I finish school. How will I get anything done once I have a full time job?

By now, I thought she'd be doing more for herself like other children her age. Instead it feels like I still live with a toddler who needs constant supervision.

Do other moms feel like this? How do you balance the waiting with your own needs?


Terri said...

Tough to set up boundaries... with a teenager... and it doesn't help at all to know that they will LIKE the boundaries once they are set up because differentiating themselves from you makes them proud... this doesn't lower their resistance AT ALL!!!

Oh, do I know how this is!

I do have some specific ideas on this so ignore this whole thing if I seem crazy to you! It just seems just like what we had going on here and it was so hard... so ignore if this seems over the top to you.

I would start on your next break from school. Set up a few no-question-zones in your morning and afternoon and evening. I started with 10 minutes when we walk in the door from anyplace. Then added others--not all evening or anything, but they have to be long enough that they give up on standing next to you tapping their foot, but short enough for their memory (which will grow as they get used to this.)

Set a timer--ignore everything but mortal danger until the timer rings (don't harp on this or causing mortal danger becomes tempting--and if it happens handle stuff calmly and re-set the timer.) When the timer rings be totally availabe, but don't ask 'what do you WANT' ask what she has been working on or show her what you have done, but do meet any needs (want to present yourself and your time together as more than beck and call time)

It took several(!) repetitions for my dtr not to feel abandoned, but she began to trust the timer. She also would pile stuff outside my door to ask me about for a while, now she figures a bunch of stuff out, forgets some and is usually not looking for me when the timer rings...

And I can lengthen the time for what I need now, in fact I can say I hve to work on somethng and get almost no interruptions without a timer now. And I go looking for her now which is fun for both of us.

(Not to say that it is always good, but it is SO much better.)

She is more independent and I am MUCH easier to get along with as a whole person rather than as an app.

It was painful, but I would say worth it. I'm looking forward to other people's ideas on this!!!!

Mother of Chaos said...

Gah. I know exactly what you mean. I often feel like a jack-in-the-box. Sit down, jump up, sit down, jump up, sit...wait...why was I sitting here again...oh well, you know what? I give up. I'm going to just move on to something I don't care about, I'm sick of being pissed off because they're interrupting me over and over and over again...

I feel like I'm waiting, too, for some glorious Someday when time will be mine, to do with as I please. 'Course, for me, laundry isn't part of what I want to do. It is, in fact, a large part of the problem - even if I do, by some miracle, have time with NO kids underfoot (and it isn't because I'm paying a daycare $$$ so I can work)...I still can't spend it working on my Great American Novel (or even my Not At All Great But It Amuses Me No End So Nyah-Nyah Writing It Anyway Sci-Fi Thingee) or reading somebody else's Great Work or knitting something intricate or anything else fun/cerebral/etc. - oooooooh no. I gots me da CHORES, and dey ain't doin' demselves, neither-nohow!

It's enough to make me cry. Or stomp. Or use words like @*&^@.

Or even @^&@*^, for that matter.

Do take heart, though. I can tell you this from having done both the 'stay home and tend their every whim' AND the 'work so much I never see their smiling faces in daylight' thing: It does have a way of balancing out. It's always rough at first, crazy and hard and exhausting and you think you can't possibly handle it - but then you do. It smooths out. You figure it out, and so do the people you live with.

Miraculously and in spite of much evidence to the contrary, they can actually manage to survive without me rushing around 24/7 responding to their needy cries. They figure things out, too.

You'll be surprised. PLEASANTLY surprised.

After those first few weeks of "I am going to KILL myself, this can't possibly work, that's IT, I'm QUITTING!" ;-)

terena said...

thank you so much, you two. This really helps. Terri, I may have to give that timer thing a try over the Christmas break. It's tricky because she needs physical help with things, but perhaps if she knows that for the next ten minutes she's got to figure it out herself, she will. Or she'll just lie on the floor and sigh dramatically. Either way, I might get to finish reading a page.