Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mothering :: Lessons

Last night I did the unthinkable. I withheld my love from my children. They had completely dismantled a handmade necklace, scattering it in every direction. When I found them it was too late to salvage the piece, bedtime was minutes away and my head was going to explode. Fuming, I yelled for them to get to their room! and then went into my office to try to settle myself. It was Tim’s turn for bedtime and I decided that I was just going to get my yoga things together and leave the house early, give myself a few extra minutes to calm down.

One thing led to another and the early start to class did not happen. But I saw one of the boys run by the window on the outside patio and started to see red again, knowing they were drawing out the already arduous process of bedtime yet again. I yelled, telling them to get back! to their room and get in that bed!. I turned off the light, shut the door and went back to find the ever elusive pieces of yoga that I need for classes. And then I heard it … from their room.

I could hear him crying. Racking sobs, so loud. I knew Tim was in there, that they were not crying out of fear. But even more, I knew exactly what I had done. In my anger I had diliberately ignored our bedtime ritual, the kiss-hug-high five and repeat that happens every night unless we are too far to touch. I had ignored them racing past the window which was the two of them looking for me to say sorry and get that hug-kiss-high five. I had let my anger get the best of me and was hearing the result of it.

I opened the door. Mason was there, devastating tears and deep sobs, Owen just staring at me, closed face and shut down. Both looked at me and I opened my arms and they came into them. I felt their still small bodies burrow into me, I apologized for being so angry and also for being so mean. I apologized for letting my hurt hurt them and then we cuddled and laughed a little and said a proper good night.

Yoga last night was like a purge and a prayer. I have been at the end of my tether in so many ways lately. There are times when being stretched so thin in so many directions feels like it will never end. Sometimes the hardest tether to take is the one of Mother. There is no rest from it, it is a ceaseless demand and a challenging position. Sometimes the tether feels like a noose as they refuse to eat this or cooperate with that or take 10 minutes to usher from car to house or house to car. It is no matter that I have to work or launder or cook or clean, always the Mother part comes first now because it should, because it has to, because they are and so that it how it is.

365 :: 220

It struck me as I thought of writing this post that so much of it has to do with what I am mothering. They are children now, unmalleable in many ways. They are assertive and have desires and wants and wishes and ways of giving and holding back now too. They challenge us daily to think of new ways to entice or engage or just get away. They make me worry in a different way as school and reading and learning and Life starts coming in. I am feeling a new fear, unacknowledged until this moment, that I cannot do this. That I don’t know the right way to do this. That I am hurting more than helping, that I am fucking them up.

That feeling has not gone away as I write this, my fears still sit at the back of my throat as we contemplate huge life changes, knowing they will have to go along with any ride we choose. But I know one thing. I am not going to with hold my love from them, no matter what anger sparks from whatever is happening. Because that was a scary thing and it left me feeling empty and them feeling so sad, so sad. Chalk it up to another lesson in the land of Mothering. A good one, an important one, an essential one.

Going to go hug one of my boys now. Lesson learned.


Jill said...

Angry? Yes. Mean? No . . . because you would have done it out of spite. The first time that I yelled at the Girls, the tears dried before the shock wore off. Three-quarters of motherhood is making it up as you go along. You can be completely sure of one thing, but a look from your child will throw that plan into the wind. You're an awesome mom, Aimee . . . and your Boys (all three) know that. And just wait, the best, craziest, and most mind-bending years are ahead of you.

Lesley Barr Photography said...

Thank you once again for opening up and sharing so much of you. Since my husband went back to work after our family year of fun I've been floundering, losing my patience, and not being a very kind mother. This is a reminder to myself that I'm not alone on this crazy journey of mothering (twins).

LauraC said...

"I have been at the end of my tether in so many ways lately."

YES. That is how I feel. Some of my worst parenting moments have been when I am done done done yet I still have to be a mom.

It's always worst when Jon is gone, something Jon and I have been talking a lot about lately. Things need to change.

Trust me though, they will not remember the one time you feel you failed. They will remember the other 10 million times you were there.

Mary-Heather said...

You're such a huge momspiration to me, my friend. Love to you.

Magpie said...

Oh, how I know this.

margaux said...

sending you a huge hug too.

SUEB0B said...

It's okay for them to know you are human. Being appropriately angry isn't wrong. That makes an impression. Irrational anger is another, much more harmful thing.

Shan said...

Oh I can so relate to this. L is such a convincing 2 year old now. ;) It's sometimes so hard to have all the patience and presence that I would like to possess. Many hugs to you, my friend. You continue to inspire me.

Kat @ I Saw You Dancing said...

My dear friend, it has taken me a wee while to carve out the time to respond to this post but I need you to know that it has affected me very deeply.
I see myself in your story.
I have been here, in this horrible lonely frightening place.
And I want to tell you the words that I have longed to hear:
It is OK.
Those boys love you. And they know that you love them unreservedly.
You had every right to be hurt and angry. It was a precious talisman and your little ones unwittingly ruined it.
What you did was perfectly understandable. You took yourself out of the situation so you could grieve for the loss of something precious without taking it out on your boys.
Their response to the withholding you describe tells you something important. They were bewildered. This is a good thing. It means that this is not something that they are used to. You do not do this every day. You do not do it every week or month or even every year. They have not been raised in an environment where withholding is the norm.
You are allowed to "slip up". You are allowed to do it badly. And you are doing your boys a tremendous service by allowing them to see it.
Imagine what partners they will be in the future... to have the capacity to hold their loved one without fear and say, "I see you. You are hurting. I can feel your anger. It is OK. I am not going to take it on board or try and fix it. But I know, from experience, that it is better to feel it than pretend it isn't happening. None of us are perfect. Thank goodness."
You are a wise soul and a beautiful mama, and these exquisitely painful stumblings are evidence of exactly that (and not the opposite).
Love you.
Kat x