Monday, November 12, 2012

alert! alert! the DEFCON mommy warning system

to start us off with PMS WEEK here at silly = sane, i've pilfered an idea from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Department of Homeland Security. why? because if you're like our family, the home comes near to a war zone about once a month. and even if it's not "that time of the month," let's face it – parenting young kids can get yer dander up (incidentally, there will be more on old sayings such as "yer dander" later this week).

homeland warning system - mommy version

sometimes children (ok, and husbands) can be a little oblivious to what we feel certain is perfectly obvious: that our insides are starting to flip onto our outsides. but while our skin may feel like it's crawling, we do in fact look perfectly normal. we have not changed color. so there is a bit of help we need to give our families to help them recognize the warning signs.

one warning i've turned to a lot with my 5-year-old is the mental image of a thermometer brought to the bursting point. "i'm HERE, Sweet One," i say, holding my hand at the crown of my head. it's not above my head yet, but i'm close to falling off the deep end, so this warning tells my kids to dial down the whining and dial up the "ok, Mom" niceties. and of course, there's always the "hi, welcome home – i'm leaving" response to The Spouse when he gets home from his outside-the-home work. (how's that for obvious?)

another successful strategy for our family has been to create a Google calendar (color-coded red of course) to track the expected arrival of the topic at hand so as to anticipate when Crazy Momma might be in the house. this helps lay the groundwork for a defensive response. PMS is a nice enemy to have in that it's somewhat predictable. but that doesn't mean there won't be surprises. it wouldn't be much of an enemy otherwise. so it's good to be ready for battle at a moment's notice.

the key here is not to see yourself or your biology as the enemy. the only enemy is hormonal havoc – when things go too far. and for that, there are various conditions of defensive readiness:

the DEFCON mommy warning system

    DEFCON 5: normal peacetime readiness
    the risk of hormonal havoc is low. life continues on its normal track. the kids are still going to whine and make you late getting them to school or music class. but that's standard operating procedure. expectations of duty and respect always apply. but spilled milk is not worth crying over (yet).
    DEFCON 4: normal, increased intelligence and strengthened security measures 
    the risk of hormonal havoc is guarded. there's a marked increase in sigh-and-mumbling chatter. but there's no real cause for concern yet. throw in an extra thank-you and hug and you're good.
    DEFCON 3: increase in force readiness above normal readiness 
    the risk of hormonal havoc is elevated. vacuuming takes on unusual importance. clumsiness increases. preparatory actions are taken: diaper bag is packed and ready for mobilization. pizza delivery is put on speed-dial. messes are quickly cleaned. coffee is hand-delivered.
    DEFCON 2: further increase in force readiness, but less than maximum readiness
    the risk of hormonal havoc is high. in fact, it's probably happening. we are in the red zone and deploying evasive maneuvers. meals come out of a bag or box. coffee comes from the hand of a barista. four walls are avoided with frequent errands and outings. children's screen time sees a marked uptick.
    DEFCON 1: maximum force readiness
    the risk of hormonal havoc is severe. if you've reached this defensive readiness condition, it's already too late. all that remains is to address the fallout. take the children and run. (but hand mommy that cup of coffee before you do.)

we routinely reach DEFCON 2 and have been able to strategize effectively to neutralize the threat most times. charting the movements of the enemy helps. but we are no strangers to DEFCON 1. then it's just all about escape and waiting for the storm to pass. because it always does. and that's a key part of the strategy, too: perspective. it means showing your kids that mommy's silly face always comes back, and there's never a bad time for a hug.

what about you? do you face the same battle? what strategies have worked for your families? what's in your anti-insanity arsenal?

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Love this post. We have no plan. It is all murder and mayhem and then we are good for awhile, everyone continues their daily lives as if nothing unusual has happened...which is the creepy part, becuase something rather terrifying has whipped through the house. THAT is the definition of unconditional love :-)