Wednesday, May 09, 2012
i lost my shit with the duke last night.
i hate it when that happens.
it usually means i'm overwhelmed, there's historical evidence for this, but it's no excuse.
once i hid in a closet because if i didn't have 3 minutes to myself i was going to explode. because it was week 3 of living in a crappy extended stay hotel room. on a busy boulevard. overlooking a parking lot. looking for a place to live. because we moved from the farm for a job. i missed the farm. i had every good excuse for losing my shit. and no excuse at all. but see, before i hid the duke saw me run to hide. i literally ran from the kitchenette because i felt trapped and smothered and i needed 3 minutes. the duke was two going on 3. he came after me. he did not find me. and he burst into tears and said, 'she's gone!'
he was heartbroken.
it was horrible.
i can still hear him.
i felt like the world's biggest asshole.
maybe, at that moment, i was.
once i threw a box of popsicles against the wall and shouted that duke COULD HAVE THE WHOLE ENTIRE BOX SINCE HE WANTED THEM SO BADLY!!! it was 10 am. he had been up for 4 hours by then. and so had his mama. he had been whining. and pushing. about the popsicles. about everything. and would not stop. he was 3. he hadn't yet started preschool. i was 3 months pregnant. i was sick all the time. i was so sick we didn't get out as much as usual. i would count down the hours until the husband came home to take him to the park and i could be sick in peace. and we were away from the space of the farm and living in an apartment. and we always had to be quiet because the guy upstairs came down on one really really bad day (not the popsicles day. a different day. a few weeks before.) when the duke was just done with the world, mad at his toys, mad at his lunch, mad at me. so i put him in his seat in the tub, filled it with warm water and soft bubbles and his favorite bath toys, and let him cry.
i sat on the bath mat and cried. too.
the sound must have traveled upstairs. not surprising, sometimes the duke was a dramatic crier. and he was a mad AND dramatic crier that day. the guy came down and knocked. i opened the door. he looked past me and his eyes widened. the living room was a disaster. a total fucking nightmare. then he looked at me. my shirt was wet and misbuttoned, my eyes were red from crying, i was so sick i looked like i was in withdrawal. the duke was crying his dramatic, mad cry in the background. the guy from upstairs didn't know me, couldn't tell i was pregnant. with perpetual morning sickness. it just looked like i was running a crack house day care out of a very nice apartment in a very nice neighborhood. and i was disturbing his very nice day.
and because the guy from upstairs was an ignorant asshole because he didn't ask, and because he didn't understand and he assumed, and because he could, he all but threatened to call CPS on me. make him be quiet, he said. don't make me get people involved, he said. i was sick. i was young. i complied. so we were quiet on the days he worked from home (he finally moved. thank god).
so the popsicles day i was just done. done with trying to keep a toddler/preschooler TAURUS duke quiet. done with being sick. done with the whining. and there go the popsicles. against the wall. WHAM! HIT! DROP! and the shouting. i felt like the world's biggest asshole. again.
so, last night. i told the duke to go to bed with no dinner. SHOUTED for him to go to bed with no dinner. it was 7 pm. he and wingman would.not.stop.bickering. you stop. no, you stop. no YOU stop. all about the duke making his pen click. and it annoying wingman. i told them both to stop. twice. i looked at the duke and said you need to stop. we're all in this tiny house together. it can't be perfect. take the high road. do your homework elsewhere. just stop.
he didn't stop.
he threw his pen.
not at me. but just threw it. like a toddler. which they sometimes are as teens. which normally i can address rationally and let him know what asinine behavior that is. and to knock it off. and then he says he knows and then that's that. usually.
except last night i didn't do any of that. instead, i lost my shit. i have never in my LIFE sent anyone to bed without dinner. i don't know what came over me. i just had to make it stop.
the look on his face. he was so hurt. his little face. so little to me still. cracked in confusion and dawning sadness. geeze. sometimes parents can be such assholes. i mean, kids are no picnic, but, they're just kids. they're trying, too.
i could illustrate the reasons why i reached the break, the reasons why i came to the brink, the reasons why i did not have the reserves to pull myself back. i have the world's best excuses right now. but. it doesn't matter.
just like it didn't matter those other times. not when you're yelling at a child. nothing matters except that you stop. because it hurts. to be yelled at. no matter how old or not old you are.
they never tell you in the parenting books about what to do when you're an asshole. when you yell and fly off the handle. when you say things you don't mean.
i figured an apology is always a good start.
i mean, that's what i taught the duke. and he always apologizes to me for yelling or flying off the handle.
so. i went upstairs. and i talked to the duke. he apologized for not listening, says he 'tossed' the pen, didn't throw it. i said stop talking you're making it worse. don't throw stuff. it's asinine. then i apologized for my inappropriate reaction, for yelling. while it wasn't an excuse, i did remind him what led me there. and reminded him that he needs to be mindful, to listen, to pull back before he pushes. that i would try to relax, even though it's been nigh on impossible lately. but that i would try. and he had to do better than try. he had to stop when i told him to stop. it's as simple as that.
he came down. we ate. then i went to the bathtub and texted the husband for a big glass of wine and box of tissues and i cried.
because i'm overwhelmed. and because i let overwhelmed win and i yelled and i was mean. it's mean to deny food to a hungry child. meaner still if they're a starving teenager. meaner STILL when he's smelled marinated tri tip grilling for the past 20 minutes.
and i tell you guys these things not so you can say, oh...don't worry...we've all been there don'tbesohardonyourself and i tell you these things NOT so you can roll your eyes and say THAT? that's you losing your shit? honey, you should spend a day with me...
i tell you these things to say them out loud. to say it happened. that i messed up. to say that some days are just really hard. some days being a parent is really really hard. i say this just because i can. and it feels better to.
and there are rough days with every job, sure. but most jobs come with some kind of training. or test you have to pass. or a manual. a supervisor or a certificate. something that says YOU EARNED THIS AND YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO. and when you don't you get the supervisor or the manual.
the only test you have to pass to be a parent is waiting 3 minutes to see if there's one line or two.
(i know this isn't the only way. allow me the largesse.)
the rest is up to you, baby. all you.
and we can tell ourselves oh this day or month has been hard, when it has. we can tell ourselves that we're only human, when we are. but the bottom line is when we yell at our kids or fly off the handle and overreact we are hurting their feelings. even if they are little shits that day, even if they 'deserve' it...they aren't and they don't. they're just kids. trying to make it, too.
when my kids are wrong they are wrong and if they don't know it i let them know it. they're 'just kids' doesn't mean they get to do what they want and i shrug it off. it means i point it out, i model behavior, and consequences are appropriate.
and i hate it when i fuck that up because i hurt my kids' feelings. that's the worst. it happens, it's human, but it doesn't mean it doesn't suck.
i hate it that this late in the game the potential for fucking up is still present. good lord.
like i said for some of you these transgressions might be so small as to be laughable and certainly not worthy of my writing them all up. of remembering them so clearly.
but i did and i do. because this is my day job. because this is what i chose. to do. to be. this is what i do. right now. i don't have to be perfect, am not, but i don't like being an ass at my job. an ass to my kids. ever. because in my world of parenting i never once for even one second wanted my child to feel abandoned or alone, to live in a house where things are thrown, with yelling, and over the top, inappropriate punishment.
i already did that as a child.
and i didn't like it. i don't like it.
i finished my bath, and my wine, and had my cry, and gave myself a big fucking break. which is easy to do when you're clean and relaxed and naked and slightly drunk. thank god for the bathtub.
i tucked wingman in. had a nice evening with the duke. went to bed.
and today i flashed the mailman.
back to normal. silly & mortal. just the way i like it.
hey. when you have a bad day do what you need to move past it. whatever works. try to give yourself a break. and if nothing else, i'm here. and i'll listen. and i won't judge. and i might even get you to chuckle a bit. i'm here. don't forget. no one is alone in this. remember that. don't forget.