Someone made millions with that phrase. "Rinse. Repeat." Did you know that? It exponentially increased shampoo sales. People went through it faster. What they didn't know is that they also were describing parenthood. So succinctly. So aptly. I'm laughing. And sometimes you laugh so hard it hurts.
I'm at the lunch table today with my kids and I'm just going ape shit. Granted, I'm recovering from surgery. I'm tired, angry and sore. I want to feel better. Soooo, I'm a bit short tempered. But really! Oh my Jesus Christ Lord in Heaven Holy Mary Mother of God... I say the same shit over and over and over at the table.
There's William, doing his best fucking Captain Morgan impression... one foot on the floor, one on the chair in some stupid pose, eating his stupid sandwich. SIT THE FUCK DOWN!!!!!! (don't worry, I leave out the F-bomb when I actually say it) It's easy. Pull up chair, land bottom on it, legs forward. SIT. DOWN. I'm constantly saying to him, "William! Sit down. Stay a while." And then I look at Diz. Slouched, one leg off the chair like she's ready to dash, no where near her plate and crumbs flying everywhere because she has inherited my tendency to eat like cookie monster. She's wiping her hands on everything BUT the pristine freakin' napkin that is lying right at her fingertips. I spend half my meal saying, "napkin, napkin, napkin, NAPKIN!!!!!"
Sit down. Face forward. Move your cup from the edge of the the table. Chew with your mouth closed. Don't talk with your mouth full. Use your napkin. Eat over your plate. You are not excused yet. Ask politely. GAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!! I need to record my voice saying these things and set it on an endless loop throughout a meal and then maybe I could get more than a mouthful in my damn belly before I just give up. This is the ultimate mother diet. I talk so much and get up so damn much, I have no chance to eat.
And I realized as I needed a freakin' nap and deep breathing session to come down from just lunch time (which sadly enough probably takes 30 minutes but feels like HOURS), that most of parenting is rinse. repeat. Rinse because it's like they are clean and starting over and haven't heard A DAMN WORD YOU'VE SAID. And repeat because you might as well be a broken record.
One of my personal favorites in my current endless loop of batshit crazy mommyhood? Shut the door. I say this endlessly. William goes to the bathroom and apparently thinks we're all interested in his intestinal goings on. "William SHUT THE DOOR!" Of course, this makes him turn and pee all over the floor. AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH! Or when Lizzy heads into the garage to fetch juice from the little fridge and the smart dogs are doing the happy dance because they see the chance to dash for freedom... "LIZZY!!! SHUT THE DOOR!!!" When they come in from the outside, when they exit the car, when they change their clothes, when they go the back yard. They both can read now. I swear I'm posting a sign on each side of each door in this house that says, "Shut the door!" I need to design something that is like a house alarm, although instead of a lovely voice saying things like "back door open" it says "SHUT THE DOOR BEHIND YOU BEFORE YOUR MOTHER SUFFERS A HEART ATTACK". Shut the damn door. Really. Keep hand on door and pull it closed behind you. Stop letting out dogs, letting in flies and letting the world (as my friend Angie would say) "see your business."
Another personal fave. Turn the light off. Children think that lights are essential even in a window-laden house on the sunniest day. They leave them on. Everywhere. Bathroom, bedrooms, pantry, kitchen. I hear the click of the light switch and it's like being aware of a ticking time bomb. I'm on pins and needles. Waiting... aaaaand. AGH!!! "TURN OFF THE LIGHT!!!!!"
The newest refrain on constant repeat is "GO TO BED". My little good sleepers are suddenly insomniacs. These two little monkeys, who used to stay in their beds and ASK permission to get up, are now the nighttime wandering gypsies of my house. I will be about 4 steps down (they sleep upstairs) when there's already a voice behind me, "Mom?" I have to mutter obscenities under my breath and breathe deep as I turn and say, "Yes? I was JUST there. What is it?" Insert stupid phrase here - I don't have my blanket. I had a weird dream (Dizzy's favorite... I don't think she gets yet that she would actually need to SLEEP first). I'm thirsty. I have to go to the bathroom. Where is my... (pick something iPod, book, tissue, shoe, Batman, doesn't matter they're just making shit up at this point). My leg hurts. My head hurts. It's hot. It's cold. The closet door isn't closed. There's a Tyrannosaurus in our room. We want to slowly kill you. Wait what? Oh, I was getting carried away there.
Mom - two things. #1 I TOTALLY GET YOU NOW. and #2 I'M SORRY. I used to think Mom was mean for saying talking to me is like talking to a brick wall. Now I get it. I do. Both kids, but Diz in particular, require an average of 5 repeats for most requests. FIVE. AVERAGE. And TV or video games don't matter. She was just holding and squeezing some rubber Angry Birds toy yesterday and this is me - "Diz. Get up and put on your swimsuit it's time for swim. Diz? Diz! Get up and put on your swimsuit, it's time for swim. DIIIIIIZZZZZZYYYYYY!!! HELLOOOOOO! What am I talking to, a brick wall? Why aren't you moving? DIZZY!!!! GET UP. PUT ON SWIMSUIT. YOU HAVE SWIM. Oh my God in Heaven I'm throwing away that damn bird if you..." (insert Dizzy screaming, scrambling up and running to her room for he swimsuit). Holy crap. Really? THIS is what gets her moving? Ugh. Rinse. Repeat.
And if ONE MORE of my requests is met with "But I'm just..." I'm gonna lose it kids. Call the men in white coats, get me committed. I used to work in mortgage banking. A land of whining and cajoling and deadlines and anger and egos. And it was 10 times easier than this shit. I'm not joking. It came with other adults and lunch breaks. Parenting is a slow, very lonely descent into madness. And mine starts with the phrase, "But I was just..." I don't give a shit if you were "just" finishing a game, playing one last thing, putting together one last piece, sitting down to play, jumping on the trampoline. The dictionary defines "now" as "in the time immediately to follow". Not WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE LISTENING. Not AFTER YOUR I WAS JUST. Right. Fucking. Now. IMMEDIATELY. Now, Now, Now!!!!!!!! I have this long, loud drawn out "NOOOOOOW" that I punctuate my sentences to the kids with. Every day. It's when they know mom's about to lose it. It makes them jump because mommy-gone-batshit-crazy is never a good thing. And I hate having to yell. I hate using my big "now", but seriously. When I make a request, little feet need to MOVE. NOW. When they continue along as though I've said, "Get ready for school whenever you're good and ready" with their little heads bent over their Legos or whatever, I go fucking nuts. WHY ARE THEY STILL SITTING THERE?! Why? Am I quiet? (we all know that's a no). Have I suddenly spoken in a foreign language? Am I trapped in soundproof glass?
My therapist once said that because I'm an introvert, I'm usually living with a soundtrack in my head (she's right). But the song has changed. It's no longer a lovely narrative of my little journey. Now it's the chorus stuck on the same refrain. A broken record of get up, brush teeth, put on your clothes, clean that up, come to the table, sit down, shut the door, don't hit your brother, don't tease your sister, say please and thank you, turn off the light, chew with your mouth closed, do what I say, get in the car, put on your shoes, use your napkin, two hands, use your fork, listen to me, listen to your father, come here, don't touch that, don't put that in your mouth, eat like a human being, take your shower, do it NOW, go to sleep, get in bed.
Rinse. Repeat. My only consolation is the day William or Dizzy makes the phone call I often make to my mom that starts with, "Mom, I'm sorry. I so get it now."
Until then... rinse. repeat. breathe. And pour yourself a nice, stiff drink after they fall asleep. You're gonna need it.