Do you ever have an evening of regret?

I had one a few nights back, and I know exactly why.

I spent all day doing the work that is required to keep a household running, but I didn’t mother.

I was on the phone with our insurance company for 3 hours, and I yelled at the boys when they asked me to play. I updated our finances and paid bills, and my sons watched Elmo on TV and the back of my head as I sat in front of a computer. I tackled the laundry, dishes, and general backlog of chores that come after a bout of sickness that we had this past weekend, and I barked at my sons to stop jumping on the couch.

I told them I was too busy and that they were annoying me and frustrating me.

Which they were.

Of all days, of course, it was a day when they were all hungry and needy and active, all day long.

My oldest is sick and had to stay home from school. He cried a lot, uncharacteristically, and was very whiny.

My toddler cried almost constantly; for instance, pointing to things in the kitchen that he wanted, and then when I’d get them, he didn’t want them and would cry again. You can’t win. He continued to follow me around the house, crying until I’d pick him up. You know the drill. No one could be pleased. No one could be satisfied.

And it was constant.

They needed me.

But I needed to get stuff done. And I did.

But it was all in exhausting, tedious, infuriating 20-second increments.

Because as soon as I’d answer one question for the insurance rep, or pay one bill, or put one dish in the dishwasher, there was another need that required immediate attention: someone’s milk spilled, the baby scaled the desk and was using the scissors to open the glue, the FedEx guy came, a picture frame broke, a kid fell off the dining room chair, the baby is emptying the cleaning supplies cabinet, someone needs a diaper change, a new show, a cup of water, more food. I literally prepared food 20 different times today, and I am not exaggerating. (It was like my kids had never eaten before: 4 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, 5 large bowls of oatmeal, 3 bags of chips, a bag of popcorn, 4 servings of mac n’ cheese with hot dogs, 4 servings of chicken, yogurt, cottage cheese, applesauce and bananas.)

And the needs kept coming.

As I look back at what I’ve written, this post sounds like one big complaint. But it’s not.

In fact, I’m writing because I’m guessing you know exactly how I feel.

A feeling every mother knows, at some point or another.

The feeling of regret.

The thing is, I am a mother but that’s not all I do. Because there are many other things that have to get done besides raising the kids and doing Thanksgiving crafts and trying to be an effective, conscious “great mom” who never looks at her cell phone and asks her kids all about their day.

Sometimes, stuff just has to get done. That’s life.

But when those days happen, when it’s dark and the kids are in bed, you might find yourself, laying in a defeated, exhausted, I-can’t-even-speak-about-it evening of regret.

Tomorrow is a new day. I just wish I’d done more than just keep the kids alive.

The Struggle is Real: When Running a Household Means Ignoring my Kids