In a recent conversation with my mother, we were somehow directed to the topic of getting angry at our children. She nonchalantly added, "I was never angry with you guys. I don't remember ever losing my temper."
WHAT?! WHAT?! WHAT!? 'Holy Mother of Senile Sassafras!' I was screaming in my head. She was either flat out lying, had launched a multitude of occasions completely out of the atmosphere of her recollections, or is experiencing the onset of senescence. My mother is not capable of lying and so it is surely one of the latter two scenarios. Initially, I wanted to send her a tidal wave of remembers....."remember the day you threw the plastic cup at my head, remember when you called my brother a peckerhead and threw him out of the house for a few weeks, remember the late afternoon that you impetuosly coughed my other brother onto a New Jersey road...when we lived in New York and Dad had to wander miles in the dark, searching for his lanky plodding body." I am not saying that we didn't deserve any of this. We positively absolutely deserved to be put in a box and left at the front door of a sweat shop in bratganistan.
But. But.. But. I chomped down on my tongue as my own mother guilt hit me with tsunamic force. For some reason my mother doesn't remember losing her temper. What a gift. I had already stolen a sizable amount of her peace as a dependent. I couldn't take this away. And the hope that I may someday receive this same genetic strand of forgetfulness felt like forgiveness to me.
Let me explain:
Extended periods of time with my kids exponentially increases my likelihood of substandard parenting. I hit a new sub sub standard this summer. It certainly appears to me that I fail most miserably when I am trying so fervently to do things right. There are days when I feel that my children would suffer less harm if I put a trough of cheerios on the table and left for the day.
Our summer began with a few too many murdered afternoons. The weather was bad. We weren't traveling anywhere for a few weeks. Friends were out of town and the kids didn't seem to want to do anything but read, play wii, and throw things out their bedroom windows .
I feel hot and sticky and gross when I remember the summer days from my youth when I would torture one hour of chores by stretching them into 12 hours ......lacerating my ears with music that wasn't worth listening to (We built this City of Rock and Roll by Jefferson Starship still makes me want to puke every time I hear it.) , eating too many slices of bread slabbed with peanut butter, and basically putting a pillow over the mouth of my summer freedom.
So I am now particularly anxious about hemorraging time. I needed a plan. We made bucket lists. I felt good and checked a few things off the list such as eating raspberries and smashing pennies on the railroad track. I was feeling like a good mother (shhh. I didn't know flattening pennies was illegal). Enthralled by a stunning field of yellow flowers on a recent bike ride, I thought it would be bucket list worthy to throw a ball, play hide and seek, and of course, take pictures in aforementioned field. I also wanted to double my mother points by taking advantage of the driving time and bought an instructional cd on learning Espanol. We are going to Costa Rica in October and because the kids will be missing a week of school, I want to make it a semi-educational experience.
We got in the car and I popped in the cd. A very slow speaking woman instructed us to repeat phrases. You know, "Estoy Muy Bien, y tu?" I repeated it......alone.
"Come on, you guys? Can't you just repeat it? It's pretty simple," I pleaded
"I don't think I'm asking that much. It's just words." I am getting the teensiest bit annoyed.
"You guys are brats."
"Mom, I'm sick of you and your stupid pictures," Ansel strikes back. I deserve it and am a little grateful for the retaliation.
I've thought these words before. I may have said, "You guys are Being Bratty".....but I have never made it such a definitive statement before. I feel sick.
Too late. Damage done.
We arrive at the flowers.
Savanna, with tears blossoming from her puffy red eyes, beelines it somewhere amongst the thousands of bright yellow blooms.
Decide to give her a little space.
It seems like a long time and too much space.
Can't find her.
Emmy starts crying.
I'm getting mad and/or a little scared.
I imagine her being lured into an underground room carved out by a mastermind pedophile, who is counting on a despicable mother such as I to spur her daughter into this exact location. (Thank you, for the literary images, Lovely Bones.)
She finally appears.
I apologize again.
We dry our eyes.
We take pictures.
We are a happy, happy family.
Sometimes Pictures are worth a thousand fascades. At first glance, one might think we had a lovely day frolicing in the flowers and tossing large taffy hued balls to one another, giggling with delight. What lurks in the undergrowth of this June day is pure ugliness.
So kids, in 30 years, when I tell you that I never lost my temper as a mother, please don't remind me of what I have hopefully forgotten.