I’m Not Trying To

I’m having one of those parenting moments.  Okay, when am I NOT having one of those parenting moments?  Honestly, I have never so seriously contemplated the option of sending my kids to public school as I have (continually) this school year (with the notable exception, of course, of the year I actually did send the two oldest to public school) (and last year and this, in which the oldest is going to high school, but that has always been part of the plan).  Maybe it’s burnout.  Maybe my hormones need adjusted (umm, yes, I’m sure that’s part of it), or maybe it’s that, as I’ve been getting healthier over the past two years or so, I’ve come out of a bit of a fog, and I am seeing more clearly that I am profoundly not appreciated in my own home (ha!  what stay-at-home mom is, right?  RIGHT??)  But whatever it is, there is one phrase that I wish I could just erase from my kids’ vocabulary:

“But I’m not trying to!”

For example:
Me “Please stop chewing with your mouth open.”
Child “I’m not trying to!”

For the love.  Never have I ever said, “Please, stop trying to chew like a gorilla with a bad head cold.  Please stop trying to mine for nose nuggets.  Please stop trying to write in run-on sentences like the 3rd grader and/or blogger that you clearly aren’t.  Please stop trying to forget to wash your face so that you look like you’re part of Fagin’s gang.  Please stop trying to put your make up on in a way that makes you look like crack whore raccoon*.  Please stop trying to make your bedroom resemble a post-Katrina New Orleans Wal Mart.  Please stop trying to treat me like dirt.”

Nope.  Never said any of that.  But any time I tell them they need to do something, or stop doing something (seriously, I’m the mom – I’m supposed to do that, right?  Because I’m surrounded by people who don’t seem to agree with that philosophy (and I’m not jus talking about my kids), so I’m starting to question myself; starting to think maybe my role is to just be here and let everybody “exercise their agency” and “learn from their mistakes” while I take antidepressants so that, as they spiral out of control, I don’t care).

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Any time I tell them to do something or not do something, I get the whiney, “But I’m not tryyyyying tooooo.”

So maybe I’ll stop trying to do laundry.  Maybe I’ll stop trying to clean the house.  Maybe I’ll stop trying to do the grocery shopping.  Maybe I’ll stop trying to take them to their church activities.  Maybe I’ll stop trying to buy them clothes.  Maybe I’ll stop trying to make meals (this one is so high on my list, for various reasons, that I just may do it, and they can all fend for themselves).  Maybe I’ll stop trying to help keep the 10,000 animals we have alive, enclosed, and well-tended, maybe I’ll stop trying to teach them . . . anything.

And when everything goes to hell in a hand basket?  I’ll just tell them I wasn’t trying to.

In the meantime, I have to go try to make a birthday cake.

Tewt the Newt is grumpy. 

*In her defense, she really isn’t trying to go for the crack-whore look, so it isn’t a battle over what is and isn’t appropriate eye makeup.  In my defense, how many times do I have to emphasize the value of WASHING under one’s eyes?

6 thoughts on “I’m Not Trying To

  1. #1: I feel ya, baby… I feel ya. That’s the story of my life, right there, summed up so eloquently with references to Fagin’s gang and phrases like “crack whore raccoon.” I’ve already had several “I’m not trying to” altercations today, and it’s not even 2 pm. Bad thing is? My 14 y.o. son is the worst offender. He’s the oldest kid in the house.

    #2: Re: “So maybe I’ll stop trying to do laundry. Maybe I’ll stop trying to clean the house. Maybe I’ll stop trying to do the grocery shopping. Maybe I’ll stop trying to take them to their church activities. Maybe I’ll stop trying to buy them clothes. Maybe I’ll stop trying to make meals…”

    Tried it. Does not work. Sorry. All hell breaks loose- your life turns to chaos and your home looks like the Warsaw ghetto after an uprising- and you are the only one bothered by it. They may complain as they step over a pizza box on the floor, to look for clean underwear under the couch, but they won’t really be bothered by it. You will be the one who is miserable and you will be the one to restore order- you will clean it, cook it, organize it, buy it… alone. And life will go on as if your mini-revolt never happened.

    #3: I shall be stealing the ‘crack whore raccoon’ phrase, of course, and working it into my conversations, effective immediately.


  2. Oh gosh. Don’t tell me that. It worked in Little Women! Remember? The March girls all decided they were just tired of doing all. those. chores, so Marmee gave them the day off ad took the day off, herself.. They didn’t put fresh flowers in the vase, no one dusted the three flat surfaces and four trinkets in the house, someone didn’t . . . I don’t know, straighten up the knitting basket or feed Beth’s cats, and by the end of the day the chaos made them all. so. cross. And they swore they would never take a day off like that again! It was just. so. awful! And Marmee sat in her rocking chair, all smug-like, telling her girls what a valuable lesson they’d learned and how they needed to read another chapter in Pilgrim’s Progress. Or something like that.


  3. Yes, I remember. Marmee gives Hannah the week off, too, doesn’t she? To make the lesson extra-special? Or something… Is her name Hannah? Then Marmee says something along the lines of, “Now do you all see how much better life is when we all do crap on a daily basis?” And the girls are all like, “Oh, yes, Marmee- yes, we do! We really, truly do! We shall do all our crappy chores from now on, Marmee. We’ll be busy little worker bees (or something), and we will love it!”

    And they live happily ever after… until Beth, um… you know.

    What a downer that was. Thanks for bringin’ it up.


  4. Michelle took my comment. I’ve tried it, too. And, yeah, major bust. You just end up bitter over all of the extra work it takes to put all the kings horses and all the kings men (and all of their underwear and piles of poop) back together again.


  5. Ok, seriously loving both this post and the conversation you and Michelle are having here in the comments!
    My kids used to pull the “not trying” line so then our reply became “So try NOT to!!” Remarkably, that helped a bit. Well, at least to erase that one annoying phrase. Not the need for nagging in general. Let’s get serious here.
    Also, I have SO MUCH respect for homeschooling moms after trying it myself. Lots of things I liked about it, but dang was that a lot of together time. Especially for the youngest, sending him off to school is pretty much a requirement for my sanity.


  6. The phrase here is “I didn’t mean to!”
    Sure, you didn’t mean to attack your nails during the soccer game instead of the ball. Or throw away your siblings artwork instead of the homework you were hiding. It was quite a weekend here with my lovely middle child.

    My oldest committed the ultimate sin this past week saying, “now that you don’t have anything to do…” Because now that all the kids are in school full time, I am naturally bored out of my mind & crying because I have nothing to do & no one to need me. One withering look & he retracted his statement pretty quickly. I was so looking forward to having him pick up the slack for when I went on strike.

    So from one unappreciated mom to another – I hear you!


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