Thursday, July 16, 2015

Angry Mom

It was the end-of-Camp performance last night and, in the audience, I smiled and wept (as usual) watching my progeny perform onstage in the midst of 300 other children.

On the way home, in the car, Smiles said, apropos of nothing "you are always angry Mommy." 

In my mind, I am always worried
I fuss too much
I'm scared
Maybe (maybe) I want my own way too often  . . .

but angry?

Already weepy, it made me cry again.

Smiles has been going through a phase of ignoring me when I say "no" to something and just doing it anyway, and, about a year ago I said I would try to never yell at him and his sister (can't  do it: sometimes you need to yell, like when they are in the middle of the street and an SUV is coming, or when they are trying to help you cook and refuse to hear that you said "no" when they asked about sticking their face over the pot of boiling water).

Also, Smiles and Voice have taken to smacking each other with my pillow when they are angry, often causing injury.

So, there has been yelling.  Theirs and mine.

It hasn't seemed immoderate to me.

Is this how Smiles will remember his childhood?  "Mom was always angry, but Dad had an iPad"?


Friday, July 10, 2015

Secure Bonds

Occasionally in my work research, I stumble into books about child development.  Today, I am flipping through Hood's The Self Illusion.  It will not be useful for work, but there's a chapter on Romanian orphanages, the eighteenth-century French wild-boy Victor,  and children separated, too-young, from their mothers.  The old pang returns: god almighty.  Have I already ruined my children?  Voice went to daycare at 9 months, Smiles at 6 months.  Both for part-time hours, but still.  Did they bond enough (and the attendant pang: then they wanted to be with me all the time.  Every day they, now 8 and 6 years old, want me a little less?)?

I am hoping the severity of today's maternal guilt/loss is the result of inadequate sleep.  BF's children have challenging sleep patterns that really mess with me.  Bow, for instance, likes to show up at around 11.30pm (when I have just managed to fall deeply asleep) to request snuggles.  Wisp came to the big bed last night around 3AM and wiggled and kicked until she had taken up a surprising amount of the available space . . .

I am pooped.  I did not turn on the stereo loudly at 6.30 this morning to wake the then sleeping children. Maybe that is my commendable act of the day?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Roly-Poly and Avocado
Roly-Poly and Avocado
Roly-Poly and Ac-a va-doh . . .

Smiles: You said "acavodho!"

Voice, continuing: you all lie on the floor!

Smiles: Your song makes no sense.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Maybe I'm just sick of heroes?

Last night someone most dear to my heart got me to watch part a movie that is to them most treasured : To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).  I got through about the first third and then I shat all over it, irascible and blinded to its racial objectives by its presentation of a redemptive fantasy of the father as hero.

I am not American: I didn't read this book in high-school. I often fail to "get" the significance of American Greats.  I have spent some time this morning googling why the Harper Lee novel and the film with Peck and Duvall are such big deals . . .  it seems to boil down to Lee's daring presentation of conscience as more important than social norms, and of her paralleling of different kinds of ostracism, and of course she's dealing with some hot-button topics in addition to race (rape, alcoholism).  I should watch the rest of the film.

Context matters to my skewed reaction: I came to this film after finishing Mad Men (2015) (Betty Draper is dying) and after watching Fly Away Home (1996) (the mother dies), and had a wild flailing feminist response: why does the mother always have to die?  Is that really the most interesting thing a woman can do?  Get out of the way so that the man can be hero and sensitive, transformative parent?

On the one hand: 1960s, 1990s, 2015s . . . 50 years of  the mother being irrelevant?  Bite me!  I am a mother.  (And I am separated from the children's father.  AND I wasn't with my kids the nights I was watching these shows, so perhaps, ahem, my nerves were especially raw.)

Still: what am I supposed to learn from these representations?  Get out of the way, please, and the man will do a better job, of everything?  It would be better if you were dead?

But what about Weeds?  It has an alive mother . . . But she's a mess, people!  Hardly a heroine.  Sigourney Weaver is a great astronaut in Aliens, but not a mom.  In Gravity, Sandra Bullock goes into space because her child has died.  Is Lorelei a heroine in Gilmore Girls?  Perhaps.  And maybe I should actually watch The Good Wife.

On the other hand: perhaps men really need the redemptive father fantasy?  It is only relatively recently that the norm in divorce and separation is that the fathers have 50-50 custody.  For decades, centuries even, it has been more typical for the father to leave if his relationship with the mother failed, and for the children not to see him again.  Maybe boys, men, children, need this vision of the father-hero as a possibility, an inspiration?

Maybe I am just sick of male heroes because they get to mess up, and drink too much, and make bad choices now and then but come through in the end as The Best Men: solid, reliable, dads with consciences.

It's all about me, obviously.  I would like to be a hero-Mom.  (Or maybe I would like to be a hero-Dad even more.)  One who isn't currently a mess, and whose past mistakes are forgiven, overshadowed by her present towering greatness, her moral clarity, her utter competence, her sensitivity to and love for her children, her emotional balance and her rationality.