Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Version Of Post Secret

Except it won't be so much a secret, unless you choose to comment anonymously. But come on, join me, won't you? It'll be fun! (Sardonic, wry laughter here.) I want us to confess our greatest failures as a mother, or spouse, or person in general. It will be both horrifying and cathartic.
Swistle got me started thinking about this in her latest post about anger, which I totally recommend you go read. She says she has a problem with a quick temper- she blows up, loses it, whatever, then soon calms down and is overcome with remorse. I realize many people have this problem, but I have personally never experienced it, so not only was her post amazingly honest, it was particularly mesmerizing for me because it was like a look into a normal person's psyche.
I was actually just saying to Jim the other day that I WISHED I could lose my temper and totally fly off the handle just once, to see what it felt like. It seems like it would be such sweet release, to lose all control and say any and every scary thing that popped into my head. But that's just not my style. Oh, I'm happy to engage you in a, shall we say, spirited debate. There will be snapping and terseness and unnecessarily emphatic shutting of cabinets and drawers. My voice may even border on raised. But I almost never yell, and even when I do it is intentional, if you see what I'm saying. It's not a loss of control.
So this is (knock on wood) hopefully not something I will struggle with in regards to parenting. I do get frustrated, and I do mutter under my breath. I do feel my entire body stiffen with agitation and impatience as I wait, wait, wait for Addy to do everything by herself while I'm rushing to get out the door, because Lord knows it will only take even longer if I try to insist that she let me do stuff for her.
But my real failing, my real weakness, is selfishness. To me this is far uglier than momentary flashes of anger. Less scary, maybe, and on the surface not nearly as obvious. No one's going to call children's services on me when they see me not taking my children for a walk because I'm on the couch blogging instead. No one's going to know that I had a mental conversation with myself about whether or not to put down the dust cloth and join Adelay in playing dollhouse, and that I actually chose the dust cloth over the dolls because I didn't feel like summoning up the mental energy to play with my child.
There are so many examples. My half-heartedness in attempting to potty train Addy, for instance, because it just takes such consistency. Sometimes I don't feel like waking her up to go to the bathroom as soon as her nap should technically be over, and I'd rather sit on the couch until I hear her actually open her bedroom door, even though I know that means we've probably lost the potty success opportunity.
Or my feet-dragging when it comes to establishing a feeding schedule for Eli, even though I know he probably needs one, as he's been spitting up a lot lately and is probably over eating during the day because he's nursing for comfort. But it's just so much easier to feed him on demand.
And then there's the selfish thoughts, so selfish I am ashamed to write them, but I will anyways. Thoughts at the grocery store, when I'm already exhausted and sweaty from wrestling an unwilling toddler and chubby baby and carseat into the cart, and I still have all the shopping and unloading and putting away to do, and my brain just wants to hide. And so it rages: "I shouldn't even be doing this! I'm twenty-three! I should be getting ready to go to a party, choosing an outfit that accentuates my flat, unstretch-marked belly. I should still be enjoying the occasional license to, as Vince Vaughn puts it, 'Get hopped up and make some bad decisions.' Why am I here? Who is this person wearing mom jeans and a damp bra?"
Do you know what I'm saying? These confessions may not necessarily seem that heinous and are certainly not child abuse or anything, but they just reveal a smallness about myself that makes me cringe inside. I want to want to be a good mommy, not force myself to do it while inwardly I am wishing for the sofa and the remote and, most of all, solitude.

And now, your turn, if you will. What tendency of yours do you most despise? What do you do about it?


Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

I have the same type of anger issues that Swistle described. Also, I sometimes just completely tune out my children if it's a day where I reaaly feel like I need a break. I'm there, but really my brain is in Hawaii and I'm on a beach reading with a pina colada.

d e v a n said...

I too struggle with anger. I have always been a calm, patient, person and having kids revealed to me that I have my dad's temper. (though thankfully not so volatile!)
That was quite the shock. I worry my kids will remember the one time a month I fly off the handle rather than the hundreds of times I don't. :(

jess said...

I get easily overwhelmed and then tend to snap at people, sometimes children. I have done it at my niece before, I do it to Adam all the time, and I fear for my poor children one day when they begin to outnumber me. It's like all of a sudden I realize that I am sitting in the middle of chaos with the dog barking and chasing his tail, a crying baby, the sweating starting - and all of a sudden I just snap out of frustration. Usually it's some really mean, smart-@ssed comment meant to get everyone to leave me alone. But, as soon as I say it I feel overwhelming guilt for being such a total b!tch and I start apologizing like crazy.

You should have seen me on my wedding day - it was not pretty.

My husband thinks I act bipolar sometimes, because I can so quickly go from complete frustration to happiness!!

Tessie said...

I shut down. My mom did this too and I really want to stop. It sucks in a variety of situations, including parenting, marriage, and work.

Fine For Now said...

I am still dealing with my mother's anger towards my sister and I as a child. She was a single parent with a really bad temper and almost no patience to speak of. I remember thinking sometimes that I didn't even know why I/we were getting yelled at. It often escalated enough that she would go beyond the point of no return and would run (sprint) to the kitchen to get a spatula or spoon to hit our legs with. There is no way to describe the sheer terror I felt seeing her coming with whatever she could find to hit me/us with. I think should write a post from a child's perspective.

Thanks for writing about this, it helps to know that it really isn't about me (the child).

Mommy Daisy said...

I don't really have a temper, but I get the urge to yell when things get rough. For instance when a certain child is not listening to me. I will restate what I was telling him louder. I don't yell much, but sometimes I want to. My mom yelled when she was frustrated, in the same way I see myself feeling. And I remember that. But my mom and I have a great relationship. Honestly I never thought about it until I had Zachariah. So, I'm working on that.

Oh and the selfish thing too. I do that a little. I do play with my son quite a bit, but there are times when I check out and let him play for a while alone. Some days more than others. But I also don't want him to think I'll play all the time. He needs to entertain himself. He's doing better and better about that.

Anonymous said...

I have the anger problem. Complete with temper tantrums and everything. I get out-of-control-angry. The only , as it positive thing about my temper is that it's a flash in the pan type of thing. I release the steam and then it's over. I've learned to go back and clean up mess. There is a lot of crying, shame and apologizing.

This trait was passed from my grandmother, to my mother and then to me. I refuse to let it be passed to Maddie. I work very hard not to lash out at her. It's happened once in her life and I felt like the biggest ass in the world.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Unfortunately, I have both the temper and the selfish thing going on. The temper bothers me more, because I still feel the effects of my dad's temper from many, many years ago. I've had lots of therapy for this one and still work on it daily.

My selfishness bothers me when other people (husband, mother) question me on something (saying things like "Oh you watched "Ocean's Thirteen" during her nap?" with what I take to be judgment of me.). I really truly think that our biggest (yes, truly, BIGGEST) job as mothers is to work on our own happiness and really truly find out what that means. For me, it means taking time for myself to exercise, read, blog, and watch movies. If I don't do those "selfish" (f--- that! let's call them "self-improving") things, I will be an unhappy mommy. And we all know that an unhappy mommy is the worst thing for a child.

Black Sheeped said...

I'm not a mom yet. I don't think I struggle with anger at others too much, but I do struggle with frustration at myself because of my short attention span/trouble paying attention/forgetfulness. I can imagine that my frustration at me could come out as frustration at children, and I hate thinking that. I hate the trouble I have with finishing things, and I hate when I get all self-defeatist.

Swistle said...

Mine's flash-anger and inappropriate frustration. Like Devan, I worry that my kids will remember the few times I lose it (because it IS infrequent) rather than all the times I don't. Like Erica, at least my anger is over quickly.

What I do about it is try not to. I've found there's a point where it's just about for sure going to happen, and so I try to stop it well before then. Going into the bathroom and shutting the door can be good--although not if the noise outside frustrates me. Going out to get the mail can be good. Making a cup of coffee can be good.

Another thing I do about it is working on damage control afterwards: explaining to the children that I have a problem with anger and that I am working on it all the time; explaining that most people have something they're working on; etc. And of course apologizing.