With each of my children, there have been few separate incidents over the years where I lost complete control of myself and screamed at them. SCREAMED! Each time was ugliness Maximus. I didn’t recognize myself in the screechy person, foaming at the mouth and barking like a rabid dog. But each time I lost my MIND, it was effective in getting both my kids to turn their behavior around. After tears and apologies, we all survived. I still experience twinges of shame when I think about those times.
However my usual calm approach to parenting is SIGNIFICANTLY less effective than the more intimidating and strict ways I see others parent. I feel jealous of their confidence. I’m as intimidating as a newborn kitten when it comes to discipline most of the time, but thankfully my kids aren’t horribly oppositional and in need of constant conseqencing for negative behavior. Yesterday this wasn’t the case. The shit got real!
My daughter decided NOT to listen to her brother when he picked her up from school and hauled ass into the middle of the street in front of a car. Luckily the driver responded quickly and she is still in one piece, however when my son told me about the incident, I felt like I could explode into a million pieces!
I fast walked out of the room, trying to control my tears. I was afraid and angry and had a mini-meltdown in private, hyperventilating and shaking uncontrollably. Once I was calm, I realized that I knew exactly what to do and how to handle the situation. For the first time in quite a while, I just KNEW. I found a way to strike a balance between Mommy Dearest and Tiger kitten. There was a good deal of crying here at my house yesterday. The tears were actually a good thing, for both of us since I am currently finding it incredibly difficult to find effective ways to discipline my daughter that mesh with our personalities and temperaments. We meshed yesterday. Someday I’ll think back on yesterday and feel twinges of joy.
I credit this change in MY behavior to the support and encouragement of some people I know who are scary moms who drink and swear and genuinely care. I could not have done this alone. The voices of support in my head guided me through it, step by step.
These are voices of people I know, some of them for over 30 years. Others are the moms that touch my life via the internet in different social networks AND even my own mother and her friends voices and opinions, both scary and sweary, are with me now. I’ve said it many times but each time I write it down or say it aloud, it reinforces the fantastic-ness of it: I feel so lucky to have escaped the isolation and depression that was shredding my soul during my early days at a stay at home mother by reaching out to other moms for help. People, not parenting manuals and magazines, real people.
Of course I still feel terrible when I think or say things that I never imagined possible before I became a mom, and the shame returns. Today it’s just easier to turn the shame in to guilt and then release that guilt because I don’t have to feel it alone. I plod ahead, vowing to keep trying to do better and to NOT flogging myself with each new failure. It is of immense help and relief to be able to seek support when I’m confused AND to confess some of my horribly negative and inappropriate feelings about being a mom. Before I reached out, my feelings of guilt and anxiety were burning through my mind and body, almost entirely sucking the joy out of being a mother. At least that was how it was for me before I started my bloggy blog.
There were some women who I could NOT turn to for support and encouragement and I know there are plenty more in my future. These days I keep those poisonous people away from my family and can easily recognize their counterparts from miles away. I know now that even when there are loving and supportive forces behind you, it only takes one or two toxic and terrible ones to shake your foundation. I think it’s because motherhood is SUCH a completely unpredictable and ever changing part of humanity. The intensity and passion that lives in every woman who is trying to create and then guide a human life is immeasurable and that is why the wise woman can embrace the subtle and obvious differences in how each of us choose to parent and still manage to provide each other with love and support.
I am currently in the process of writing MY story, banging out thousands of words about my struggles and successes in my own sweary style, but as I write, I continue to read.
I recently read http://www.scarymommy.com/confessions-of-a-scary-mommy/. She is my people. The community she built, complete with confidential confessions is nothing short of a miracle for the thousands of women who rely on it to keep their souls from ripping apart with guilt and bitterness. Her book is different from ANY of the other humor books I’ve read on motherhood. Her story is your story. She is not trying to impress you with alliteration, personification or any other creative writing skill meant to amuse you or warm the cockles of your heart.
Don’t get me wrong, I like it when my cockles get warmed and I can feel squishy and delusional about my family, but I admire Jill’s book because it fearlessly does just the opposite. Her brave book comforts me and as my weird personal stories fly from my brain to my fingers, I have found that my lack of censorship with regard to the dark and twisty stuff is not laced with shame because of the Moms who drink and swear and the over 150,000 confessions from Scary Mommies all over the world on Jill’s website. http://www.scarymommy.com/confessions/
Do I confess on her site? No. But if I had known about the anonymity prior to starting my own blathering bitch blog, I probably would have. Alas, it is too late now since anyone reading this can connect my thousands rants to a name and I’m good with that. If I wasn’t, I’d stop. I feel passionate about supporting parents trying to survive and I think Scary Mommy does this really well. Am I receiving any compensation for telling you about Scary Mommy and her book? No. Did she ask me to write about her? No. But she did send me an early copy and I’m going to drop a quote from it to end my blog.
“Motherhood isn’t a chain of wondrous little moments strung together in one perfectly orchestrated slide show. It’s dirty and scary and beautiful and hard and miraculous and exhausting and thankless and joyful and frustrating all at once. It’s EVERYTHING.”
Jill Smokler – A.K.A. Scary Mommy