As a mother, the list of tasks I have to do often appears endless. Although some I don’t mind doing—helping with homework, cooking dinner, vacuuming—I actually consider many to be less than appealing. Now that my children are older, you won’t find me longing for the days of dodging projectile vomit, cleaning up a baby whose diaper has exploded, or getting up in the middle of the night—multiple times—to feed a ravenous infant. That being said, just because the infant and toddler years have passed, it doesn’t mean that my children are any less demanding.
Each day, after my meetings are over and it’s time to turn my thoughts away from work and back to my kids and the evenings’ demands, I am bombarded by requests, from making chocolate milk to finding the forever-missing remote control. Depending on my own mood at the time, these demands might be met with a quiet acquiescence if I’m feeling relaxed and easy-going or—God forbid I’m feeling over-burdened—they will more than likely be met with a deluge of complaints about “no one helping me—EVER!”
I’ve noticed that it doesn’t really matter what my reaction might be—calm and understanding or raging lunatic—the demands never stop. As long as my children are awake, it seems I only get to sit down for five-minute intervals (ten, if I’m lucky). By the time I attempt to turn my attention back to whatever I had been doing—finding where I had left off in the book I was reading, un-pausing “Grey’s Anatomy” for the eleventh time, or recapturing my train of thought so I might actually finish writing a new post—one of my children will inevitably yell “Mom?” in the hopes that I will once again stop what I was doing to come to their aid.
The problem is they are still kids, and they honestly do need me to help them—sometimes. Like when one of the kids gets in the shower without grabbing a towel or bathrobe, and they are standing in the shower shivering waiting for me to materialize with robe in hand. Or, when my son needs something to drink and he can’t reach a glass in the cabinet—I mean, is it really worth the risk of him falling off a chair just so I can find out what’s going to happen between Meredith and Derek? I think not. So, I stop what I am doing, and I go—and I try not to get frustrated with them.
There is one thing that I absolutely hate doing, and I would, on some days, trade a thousand messy diapers not to have to do it any longer—
Finding something for my son to watch on TV.
I know, you were expecting something gross, like picking up dirty socks from the laundry room floor (which I really do hate doing), but honestly, being a “human remote control” is the most annoying job that I do on a daily basis.
Up until this year, my son couldn’t read, so at any given moment when he would ask me what was on TV, I would have no other choice but to sit down and read him the titles. I would scroll through the guide, reading each title, as he repeatedly said “No” to all of them. Then, with nothing to watch on “live” TV, I would turn to the On-Demand titles. Ten, sometimes twenty, minutes later, after having exhausted every title in the entire cable box, he would finally make up his mind and I would then have to remember where we had seen it listed.
As he has gotten older, and he can now read—or at least, recognize—the titles of the shows he likes, it seems I only have to help him find something once a day when “there’s nothing on.” No matter how long it takes, I find it to be a tedious and frustrating task—and by the time he has said his twenty-third “No,” I will have completely lost my patience and will have started ranting at him about how much I spend on cable, how his sister only had seven channels when she was young, how he should be happy, blah, blah, blah. Needless to say, this time spent with my son usually deteriorates into tears or hurt feelings.
Even as I sit here and write this, although it hasn’t made me hate being a “human remote” any less, it has made me realize something other than the fact that my son probably watches too much TV—my son needs me. As he continues to grow up, there will be more and more things that he will be able to do on his own, and although I know he will always love me, he will not always need me in the way he does right now. So, my advice today is for myself to remember this, and the next time he swears that even with three-hundred-and-seventy-five channels, THERE’S NOTHING ON, I will have the patience to know that it’s just his way of telling me he needs me.
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