Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coming Clean

I think it's helpful for me to write about my ugly parenting moments on this blog. First, there are a lot of parenting blogs out there that are pretty shiny, you know? Lives and objects seem beautiful, but you don't get a sense of what the underbelly looks like (and I guess I think there usually is an underbelly, though some of our underbellies smell a little more or less foul than others). There's a lot of shame that goes into our parenting fuck-ups. At the same time, there is little community mechanism for healing from them. The closest thing is reality t.v., and we all know how useful that crap is.

Second, it's good for me to bring some of this stuff to the light. It has less power that way.

Third, writing about it gives me clarity I don't get from just thinking about it in my brain, and then I can do better next time.

Big build-up, small story. I just got home from work the other night and was--snap--feeling tired and unfit for human companionship. Nothing particularly bad happened at work, I was feeling alright physically. I just think I probably needed a night to myself. I don't know how else to explain it. But from the minute I picked the girls up until bedtime, I turned into some evil disciplinarian, heartless and mean. More than anything, I think I wanted out, and wanted my kids to not bother me and be perfectly behaved. It was like that scene from The Great Santini where Robert Duvall's character treats his kids like troops, and he's the drill instructor. Ugh-ly.

So of course the kids were whiny and crying because I was being so mean, and I wouldn't let them have snack, and no t.v. show either, and they didn't like their dinner. By the time E. got home everyone was exhausted from the tension and fighting and tears and no food. Then he had a guitar lesson so I had to do bedtime too, and by the end of it Addie was sobbing on the floor of the playroom, and Nolie screaming from the bedroom that she needed her sister. My God. I was like some orphanage proprietess, Miss Hannigan without the funny songs.

What brought us out of it? Deep breath: Addie saying to me, through her sobs, "Mommy, I just feel like you don't love me anymore."

Spell broken. Heart cracked.

I wrote LOVE in big black sharpie letters on my hand the next day, a semi-permanent tattoo, small penance for evils wrought.

Of course, I just needed a night off. Of course, that excuses nothing. But I'm trying to walk through the shame and blame to the other side, and see the learning of it all--that I needed a reminder that love comes first with my kids, and discipline and order second.

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