My son is one of those kids who would completely lose his head if it weren’t attached to his body. I know that this silly phrase was thrown around a great deal of my childhood, but I never really, fully understood what it meant until I became a parent and the so-called “nag” in my household because my 9-year-old gets distracted easily and can’t remember whatever task he set out to do to begin with. I want him to learn to be his own person, without me repeating myself and I’m pretty exhausted by it.
Just this morning, I found myself glancing at the clock uncontrollably because I knew it was creeping closer and closer to the time when my son needed to exit our apartment and make the two block walk around the corner to his bus stop. The clock struck 6:35 and I knew he only had 10 minutes to spare. He was still in the bathroom brushing his teeth. So by the time he got out, I knew he needed to make a mad dash for his socks, white tee shirt and school uniform — but instead he just mosied in their direction. I was left pacing down the hall giving minute-by-minute reminders until he finally sped things up.
He left for the bus stop feeling like I was the ultimate nag and I started my day feel like a bad mom because our day was abruptly started with attitude and anger instead of positivity. But at the same time, he wouldn't have made it when he needed to get on time if it weren’t for me repeating myself over and over and over again. It was a vicious cycle with seemingly no sight in end.
I repeat myself when it’s time to do homework at the end of the day. I repeat myself to remind him to clean up wrappers that he leaves around the living room. I repeat myself about scraping his dinner plate before it goes in the sink. And I repeat myself every single night, reminding him of his 9pm bedtime. And this is just the list of repeating that is sure to happen on a daily basis — not including his regular chores.
To any mom out there who is sick of repeating herself — I feel you. I feel you so hard.
It’s a double edge sword, these reminders. They exhaust us. They consume our thoughts. They allow anxiety to wash over us when everyone is pressed for time. It’s quite frankly an unfortunate part of being a parent that we all must deal with, whether we like it or not. Yup, being a parent can make you feel superhuman, but it can also be draining, too.
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And we can give consequences, if we have to remind our kids to do things more that once, but the truth is that it always seems to fizzle out and the cycle starts all over again. I would be lying if I said that my kids were perfect and that rules and punishments helped me 100% of the time, because that's just not how life works. So we remind them again and again and they forget again and again.
But beyond the annoyance of it all, I think is the emotional labor that comes along with it. If our kids just remembered to do the things that were expected of them all the time then we would be able to let go of that space in our brain where that information is being stored and replace it with something else. We would be able to let go a little bit and not always have so many things on our mind to begin with. Letting go of all these reminders for everyone in our home would be so incredibly liberating but feels like a fantasy — something that will probably never happen.
Moms carry so much with them everywhere they go, both physically and mentally. We have so much weight to bear all the time that these reminders weigh down on us extra hard. We survive every day on caffeine and cuddles, but sometimes, something's gotta give.
But for the love of all things holy, I would much rather be sipping my favorite latte, going for a run or catching up on This Is Us than reminding everyone around me what they need to do — just so it will get done. So to the mom who is repeating herself right now or sending reminder texts and notes to her kids and husband and teachers and everyone around her who thinks it’s totally cool to say to you “I’m happy to do XYZ — just remind me,” I get how hard the stress of that can really be. It seems simple, but all this repeating ourselves and sending of reminders creates so much extra work all day, everyday. I feel your pain, your annoyance and your wishes that you could just tell everyone to do things one time. I’m over here making those wishes, too.
But what are we to do about it? Take deep breaths? Make threats? I wish I knew the answer.
As far as I’m concerned, I tend to do both of those things and neither seem to help the problem or make me feel better. I always go back to the reminding, because that’s what moms do. I guess this is one of those things we need to write off as part of the job and file it under those things we never thought we’d say, then we became a parent. We’ll hope that one day they will be so thankful for all the repeating that we did over the years and pray that whenever they are old enough to leave our homes that some of these reminders stick. And when in doubt, just look forward to some peaceful moments whenever the kids finally go the eff to sleep at night.