jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

She’s Runnin’ with the Devil


No one told me that motherhood would be like a bad college boyfriend. I mean, if one of my kids told me they were in a relationship with someone who was disrespectful, mean, clingy, and who grabbed their lady bits in public, I’d say, “Dump the guy! [or gal]” but here I am, unable to dump my kids.

This week I was having one of those days. You know, one of those days where everything I do, they undo. Everything I say, someone turns around and does the opposite… right in front of me! We’d walked down the big hill to the school tennis courts.

“Mica! Don’t step on that bee. It belongs in nature and we are in nature so we need it to pollin- Cabot! Did you just  step on that bee?! Argh! Reid! Don’t throw the tennis bells over the fence. Jasper! Did you just throw that tennis ball over the fence?! We need those to play TENNIS! Time out! No you’re in time out. Mica did you just throw a tennis ball over the fence?! No, YOU’RE in time out!”

Until I realized that more kids were in time out than not. I was so frustrated, so annoyed, so, SO, SO!!! BHRTTTTTTT!

In the cartoon version steam comes flying out of my ears and fire out of my feet and I shoot right to the moon like a rocket. They cheer my ascent at first but then realize they’ll have to walk up the big hill on the way home carrying their own rackets with no one to hold their hands. Then they all burst into tears that stream out of their eyes like arcs of water from a sprinkler. Finally, they beg me to come home with cupid hearts and armloads of flowers…

But as you can imagine, there is no cartoon version. Just the real version, the version that is at her wits end, so filled with somewhat disproportionate rage and unable to move forward. Sigh.

I said, SIGH!

This happened once my first year of coaching when no one could figure out how to pass and then sprint forward and receive the ball… for over an hour… and I walked away from the field and sat down in the middle of a neighboring field about 100 yards away, with my face in my hands. Seriously. (They all stopped for a moment and then actually figured it out for themselves. So much for my so-called coaching abilities.)

It happened once in my first year of marriage during an argument about who sweeps the floor more (me, obviously…) so I tried to lock myself in the laundry room to cry but the lock wouldn’t work so Tim came in and hugged me anyway. Darn him. (He still doesn’t sweep, and he’s still the hugger.)

It happened once in college during a terrible conversation with a terrible boyfriend who it took me too long to break up with. I put on my sneakers and ran. I ran about seven miles, the furthest I’d ever run. It was actually a beautiful moment, a moment where I literally took my life back.

And so earlier this week, if you saw someone flying laps around the soccer fields, not far from a motley group of stunned tennis toddlers standing watching with their rackets and balls in hand, well that runner was me. Taking back her morning. Taking back her day. Taking back her life. If only for a few minutes.


Then we walked back up the hill to the house, and I carried their rackets and held their hands.

13 comments on “She’s Runnin’ with the Devil

  1. I love this. Hello honesty.

    • jgroeber
      November 3, 2013

      Thank you for reading! Was worried that two consecutive posts talking about how my kids could sometimes drive me bonkers might say, “I don’t appreciate these children I worked so hard to have,” more than just, “Is it just me, or is motherhood not what it was billed as?” Ha!

  2. RFL
    November 3, 2013

    I could so relate to this post! Love it, and I was cracking up at the grabbing your lady parts in public, and the phrase, “No, You’re in Timeout!” I say that one a lot. Glad you were able to take a moment.

    • jgroeber
      November 3, 2013

      Your comment made my morning! Now I’m off to put someone in time out.

  3. Janice
    November 3, 2013

    This post made me smile. I can so relate and I love how I can visualize you off running and your kids just dumbfounded watching.

    • jgroeber
      November 4, 2013

      They were actually probably pretty pleased for the first few laps. And when I got back, they were listening to music on Spotify and taking pictures on my iphone. So much for them missing me…

  4. dvb415
    November 3, 2013

    Entertaining, insightful, and amazing as usual.

  5. rcinc
    November 4, 2013

    Oh yes, I can relate… I can clearly remember when they were all toddlers and not having enough space for them all to be in a timeout at the same time. I also agree that coaching is just like having kids. You can’t put them in time out, but you can make them run around the field continuously! Don’t worry about complaining. If someone hasn’t felt that way, they aren’t around their kids enough.

    • jgroeber
      November 4, 2013

      Thank you! I do so want to send them running laps. Perhaps by middle school… ha!

  6. Michelle
    November 5, 2013

    So awesome! I look forward to reading your posts. It reminded me of this morning when Brad upset by my daughter’s inability to get out of the house on time without throwing a fit of some sort. ( like, I need a stuffie, or I can’t wear this head band, I have to just make this drawing…) Brad: why can’t she just get out of her own way, why does she have to make the easy stuff so hard? doesn’t she know she is creating drama for her self? Me: because she is the five year old version of me…and then I laugh uncontrollably. But mind you it’s only because it’s his frustration, when it’s mine, I am not so amused!
    Thank you for your fearless writing and framing a time period I know we will all too soon forget.

    • jgroeber
      November 5, 2013

      Too good to hear from you and thanks! This morning, right before reading your comment, I screamed at Cabot, “Put your seatbelt on!!!” because I’d already asked her seven times, we were late and I was on hold waiting for the car dealership to answer the phone. Oops! Turns out, I was actually leaving a message for the guy at the dealership. Now he knows to wear his seatbelt at least. Ha! And then I wonder why my kids scream so much. (And for the record, your drama is always productive, you’re an artist! It’s the post-toddler kind that makes us all bonkers.) 😉

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This entry was posted on November 3, 2013 by in Surviving Motherhood, The Children, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

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