Thursday, October 24, 2013

Do Not Aspire to be Me

I screwed up.  For all my talk on Tuesday about trying not to yell anymore, trying to keep my cool because it works better when dealing with my irrational monster-children, I totally lost it this morning. 


I wish I could remember, in vivid snatches, the love and comfort my mom gave me as a child.  Because I know she did.  Otherwise, I’d be totally messed up, right?  But I’m pretty sure I am able to love and comfort my children with all the patience and sincerity I do because that’s how she treated me.  But you know what I remember instead?  All the times she was really mad at me or disappointed in me (there weren’t many, thank God, but I can recollect them in minute detail).  Like the time I cut my own hair and tried, in my 4-year-old ineptitude, to lie about it.  Or the time she had a headache and took and nap and Leland and I were hungry and so we ate some cream cheese and crackers and it turned out that she was going to use those as part of an appetizer she was taking to a party that night, and by the time she woke up, it was too late to go to the store to get more.  Or the time I was playing ‘mud pies’ in the yard (right over the septic tank that was failing) and using actual kitchen utensils.


I don’t want my children to remember my 15-second lapse in judgment this morning.  We were all doing so well, we were early to be dressed and ready for the first time in, well, ever, until I asked the kids to get in the car.  Thus started a 20-minute process for no reason I can explain.  20 minutes!  To move 40 feet!  It culminated in Charles wanting to switch jackets from a light zip-up sweatshirt to his heavy winter coat.  Fine.  But I wanted to pack his sweatshirt so that he could play outside later, when it reaches 60 degrees, without getting too hot.  He wouldn’t hear of it.  He kicked.  He screamed.  “Nooooo!  Put it back!  Don’t take my sweatshirt to school!”  Irrational, right?  I tried to deceptively tuck the sweatshirt away so I could hand it to his teacher to put in his cubby, but he saw me, and screamed even louder.


I am worn out.  Charles was awake until 10:30 last night.  Jamie has a cold and woke up several times during the night.  Tony’s back, but I haven’t had a break yet.  I imagine I’m singing a tune that every mother knows, but damn, this shit is exhausting.  I don’t snap often, but when I do…


I screamed at my child.  I yelled, in my most shrill and horrible voice, looking right at him, “Get in your seat and get buckled RIGHT NOW!”  I immediately felt terrible, like I had ripped my own heart out with my hands.  My son started to shake and cry as he fumbled for his seatbelt.  I jumped out of the car and opened his door and he probably thought I was going to scream at him again or worse (not that I have ever done anything worse) because he started wailing louder.  And I just hugged him and cried and said, “I’m sorry,” over and over and over again.  “Please forgive me.  I love you.  I’m sorry I yelled.  I love you.”  “I forgive you,” he said, but he still cried.  I apologized to Jamie, too, got back in my seat, and started the car.  I calmed myself, told them that sometimes mommy gets really frustrated when they don’t listen but I shouldn’t have lost my temper.  “I threw a temper tantrum, Charles, like you sometimes do.  Grown-ups get upset and have temper tantrums, too.  It’s okay to get angry, but I’m sorry I yelled.”  Charles seemed fine by the time we got to school, but I could see the wet spots on his jacket where the tears had fallen.


Will he remember the times I spirited him away from school to go to the zoo or the movies?  Will he remember the times I read story after story until I was hoarse?  Will he remember the snuggles, playing in the park, the tickles, the dancing?  Or will he remember the time I yelled so hard that I broke my heart?


I love my children so much, but I am hurting so badly right now.  It’s the kind of pain that makes my throat close up.  It makes me worry that I am screwing up their lives, that on my deathbed they’ll remember the times I was evil instead of the times I showed them kindness, patience, and love.


I wish, so much, that I could go back to this morning and start over.

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