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Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day, Mommy Dearest

Motherhood: It's our passport
towards insanity. A one-way
ticket on a journey so full of bumps.
But even so, this is one wild ride that
I would never want to miss.
I was recently tagged in this photo on FaceBook, and while it made me laugh, sometimes I feel like it's true.

Yesterday I got to sleep in a little (8 a.m. - woot!) and awoke to wonderful hugs from two of my (already-dressed!) children. Then I went to take a shower and noticed, hey - someone didn't flush. Can't win 'em all, I guess.

I have a mixed bag of feelings about Mother's Day. In our house, almost every day is "Mother's Day," and I can't really complain. I have a husband who bathes the kids, puts the older ones to bed, play wrestles on the floor, all that dad stuff - including gives me some "time off" once in awhile to recharge my batteries. While my older ones are in school, Tater Tot often sleeps for a few hours in the morning, so for someone with three kids I get quite a bit of time to myself. It's what I do with that time that's usually questionable...

This is the time of year where people like to reflect on how good a mother you are. I, on the other hand, tend to internalize things and focus on how bad a mother I often am.

While not as bad as Joan Crawford (I hope not, anyway), there are those times. While I often think that boys are initially more trying than girls, right now my daughter is giving us a run for our money to the point of sheer exhaustion and frustration. The spanking ensues, and both of us feel like shit afterwards and wonder, what was the point of that? We're trying a whole host of things, not many of which are working. I wonder, Can this get any worse? Then my brain fast-forwards ten years and thinks, Why yes, yes it can. 

While most people say how well-behaved my children are, I think, What are they talking about? and smile politely. I sometimes say that out loud and then think, Wow, it really sounds like I'm bad-mouthing my children. Then I feel bad, because they are good kids, just not for me. LOL I sometimes feel like none of them listen to me, at all. Tater Tot is a complete hellion for diaper changes, which often means I'm in crazy positions trying to change him just so he'll comply and not get poop all over the place at the same time. For other people, though - including my husband - he's a complete freaking angel. Which I totally do not get. We are teaching him "please" and "thank you," which he knows but refuses to say. I ask him, "How do you ask? Can you say please?" when he wants something, and he'll drop his shoulders, obviously annoyed, and say "No." Although yesterday the nursery worker at church told me, "He said, 'Water, please.'" Well, at least we know he's learning something.

When my mom was growing up, it seemed few parents showed affection or love for their kids. My grandmother was loving, I guess, but my grandfather was a complete ass who had little patience for his kids, apparently. The cheapskate that he was, he refused to buy glasses for my mother until she was in 8th grade, forcing her to wait through several years of bad vision before he finally caved in and bought a pair. When she cried, he'd take pictures of her and show them to people. She told me he was very impatient, which made me think of all the times I've responded, exasperated, to my daughter. I really hate that part of myself, the part that makes me wonder, Am I turning out like him?

The other day my husband told me how the neighbors - whose kids I've written about before - are having behavior issues. I always thought they never spanked, but apparently they have gone down that road with their daughter, who is very headstrong. The oldest has always been very shy, and now I realize how passive-aggressive he is. Their dad told my husband how S is very angry a lot of the time, and making it through a meal is difficult. I was shocked and thought, Their mom never told me about this. It surprised me, because I always thought they took a very even-keel approach, and thus produced... I don't know, even-keel kids, I guess.

While our husbands spilled the dirt, she has never once talked with me about it. Why is it so hard to talk about the trials we go through with our kids? As if we have to keep up some ridiculous facade?

It also made me realize how, despite our different methods of discipline, we each suffer from the same problems. Anger, not getting what we want RIGHT NOW!, backtalk, the works. The exterior is different, but what's inside is the same, no matter what.

A friend of mine and I were chatting awhile back and she admitted she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago. In the time before her diagnosis, she was raging, angry and on the brink of losing it with her child. Her husband was a rock of support to her, and once she sought professional help, she was finally able to cope.

Just hearing her talk about it, though, was a breath of fresh air to me. Finally, someone was admitting that they spank, yell, scream, whatever it was - but they were admitting it. Not trying to hide behind some Better Homes and Gardens farce of motherhood that's only depicted in TV commercials.

At church yesterday, two little kids sang a wonderful song about mothers - tucking little ones into bed at night, making boo boos better, all that good stuff - and I had tears in my eyes. Not tears of happiness, but of sadness. Because while I do that typical mom stuff, I'm not sure if I do it with enough love and patience as I should.

We are so afraid as parents, especially as mothers, to admit the less-than-perfect things we do. The totally inappropriate things that we think, like this. While this was a tremendous laugh, it made me sad in a way for  parents who really do say these things to their kids - who might have started out with good intentions, but who have long-ago teetered over the edge of impatience and just fallen straight into the void that defines child abuse and truly bad parenting. It also reminds me just how easy it is to lose it altogether and do something harsh or dumb, something you can't take back or un-say that could potentially mess everything up forever. Really, sometimes I think there is little separating us "good" parents from the "bad" ones who make headlines.


Anonymous said...

We don't share our discipline struggles because someone might report us if they don't agree with our style. Seriously. It's not that I have to appear perfect to make others believe I am perfect, it's that doing things the best way I know how may just be someone else's soap box issue and they might call social services. If my house is messy, it might be termed neglect. If I use one form of punishment or another, it might be too harsh for the listener. Easier to keep your mouth shut and move on.