|Photo credit: William Warby|
It was a hard parenting week, you guys. Honestly, the fact that I haven't given myself some permanent calm via a home lobotomy speaks wonders to my self-control.
It was reality-show crazy over here. We had epic sibling fights galore. We had anxiety-fueled meltdowns on the daily. We had walk-on-eggshells-or-the-household-will-implode evenings. It was a really bad week. They so rarely befall our family these days, but when they do, they're in like a lion and out like a lion. There are no lambs involved. Weeks like these eat the lambs. It's the first thing they do. They're dicks.
In short, a whole bunch of stuff happened (much that I'm leaving out for brevity) that left me feeling like the world's worst parent who can't keep things together and should probably take a course or something but actually that money might be better spent getting my kids some therapy because clearly I've already caused irreparable Jerry Springer-like damage that will lead them to be immortalized in Dr. Phil reruns where everything will point back to their terrible upbringing. Something like that.
I was pretty good at holding it together all week, but by nine this morning, I was calling my friend at work in tears (the poor thing has never been happier to have her own office.) I was in Emotional DEFCON 1, but she talked me down fairly quickly - probably because she needed to, like, work and stuff. I'm so grateful to have people who get me even when I don't get myself. Everyone needs those people.
Then I spent the rest of the day hating all people everywhere, which happens about once every two or three years. I just hate everyone. I become a buxom Trent Reznor and wear a lot of eyeliner and spend my time listening to songs with angry guitar solos and stay as far away from other humans as possible.
Hey, don't judge; it's cheaper than the therapy I clearly need.
Every time I get that way, I know I need to do some digging on the inside. So that's what I did today while I was busy hating everyone (especially myself), and this is what I came up with:
I don't do well with feeling like a flop of a parent. There are days when I just know I'm dropping all the balls I'm supposed to be juggling. And this year, the balls got so much bigger and hairier. It's like Mission: Impossible for clowns.
When I had kids, I made a promise to myself that I was going to be an amazing mom. Like totally great. Most days, I don't feel I come anywhere close that. I drown in my own guilt.
If my kids can't get along for days at a time, I figure it's my fault because I haven't taught them enough conflict resolution. If my kids don't get along and I don't serve any vegetables with dinner, they're going to develop heart disease before they can ever learn to get along and that's a double failure on my part. And if I do that really stupid thing and yell at them to stop yelling (and eat their damn vegetables) because I'm totally frustrated? Family of origin therapy before the heart transplants. Triple parenting fail threat.
If my daughter is having a bad anxiety week, it's my fault because I haven't taught her the right coping skills or she must need new medication and I'm neglectful for not noticing or I'm missing something really serious going on with the trans kid with the world on her shoulders and I need to shape up and pay more attention because holy crap she has a lot going on and what's wrong with me?!
Or maybe I'm too strict, or too lenient, or I'm coddling them, or I'm not giving them enough attention. Maybe I'm too busy or too present or not letting them make mistakes or letting them make too many. Or maybe it's all those things. Shit.
Everything always comes back to me. It's incredibly self-absorbed and destructive.
Guilt: it's what's for dinner. I like to serve it with a nice side of shame and sprinkle it all with MSG, because that shit is bitter if you don't hide the flavour.
But the conclusion I arrived at today while listening to vicious guitar riffs, is that I need to just cut myself some slack, already. Parenting sucks sometimes, and nobody likes handling a bunch of big hairy balls. So it's ok if the idea makes me cry a little. I'm only human, after all.
And this perfect juggling record I've been striving for day after day? It's just not humanly possible. I will always drop some balls. Always. Pretty much every single day. And I had better get used to that. I criticize myself in ways I would never criticize another parent. That shit needs to stop.
Because, the thing is, I really love my kids. Fiercely. Devotedly. Completely. And that's this anti-supermom's greatest power.
Love makes me try harder. It makes me a creative problem solver. It makes me believe that I'll figure things out, even if I have no clue how in the moment.
Love makes me get up the next day with new resolve. It makes me turn off the guitar solos and go hug my children while they struggle to get loose so they can try and kick each other.
Love makes me both soft and fierce. And even on the days when I haven't dished out a single vegetable, I'm still dishing out the love. They give it back to me, making it the best renewable resource.
So chin up, imperfect mom that you are. You've got love on your side. Some days it's all you've got, but it's enough.