I think Anne Lamott and I were separated at birth. At least she seems to come from a much closer gene pool than my own sister. Truly. About halfway through her book she’s got an essay on being a single parent called “Heat”. Man, did this resonate with me. I know that I’ve come a long way from the days (which seem so long ago now, but were actually just months ago) when I was panic stricken that I couldn’t take care of this six year old child by myself. Not to mention, myself and a full time job and an apartment, etc. I had to learn to mow a lawn, take out the garbage, shovel snow, fix things when they broke, and keep going even if I felt sick or out of sorts. That may make me sound like a total princess but I always did all the domestic housewifey things.
At any rate, I learned that I could take care of my son all by myself. I could get him up and dressed for school, get decent meals into him, pack his lunch, get him into the bathtub, provide him with the best education possible, kiss his boo-boos, and just love him as much as I could. But lately, I’ve found that I get annoyed with him so easily. Because it is just the two of us we circle each other like pent-up cats in a cage. He wants to play, I want to lie down and lick my wounds. He wants to pounce and I want to nap. He wants to play ball and I just want to stare dreamily out the window and think about my next weekend blissfully and peacefully alone. I’ve become this total shrew. I lose my temper and I yell and I say irrational things. I get frustrated with having to repeat myself twelve times and end up trying to enforce consequences only to be faced with all out war on Mom. I hate myself this way and I want to love him unconditionally and be ready to play with him all the time but I feel like my whole world has been eaten up by my child and there’s nothing left of me until he falls asleep (the little angel then that I love to watch) at which point I’m so exhausted from being such a bitch that I can’t even keep my eyes open any more.
These were some really pertinent passages I read today while waiting for my long overdue grease and oil and all of the sudden I didn’t feel like the world’s worst mother at all. Just probably pretty normal….
“I’m pretty sure I only threatened not to intercede. But there have been other nights when I’ve made worse threats, thrown toys off the deck into the street, and slammed the door to his room so hard that things fell off his bookshelf. I have screamed at him with such rage for ignoring me that you wuold have thought he’d tried to set my bed on fire.”
“…at other people’s homes, my child does not suck the energy and air out of the room…But at our house—comment se dit?—he fucks with me. He can provoke me into a state similar to road rage.”
“…This is a closely guarded secret; the myth of maternal bliss is evidently so sacrosanct that we can’t even admit these feelings to ourselves. But when you mention the feelings to other mothers, they all say “Yes, yes!” You ask, “Are you ever mean to your children?” “Yes!” “do you ever yell so meanly that it scares you?” “Yes, yes!” “Do you ever want to throw yourself downt he stairs because you’re so bored with your hcild that you can hardly see straight?” “Yes, Lord, yes…”
I love my son. I love him with all of my heart and soul. I would die for my child. But he makes me crazy. He makes me a crazy person. I don’t WANT to sound like a shrew but I do want to be able to take a crap without his sitting on the edge of the tub. I do want to have a half an hour to watch the evening news. I do want to lie down with a migraine for an hour without having him come in every ten minutes asking if it has been an hour yet. I DO want a social life more than every other weekend! I want adult interaction and I want other parents to admit that they honestly feel that they could choke the life out of their kid although they know they won’t because they’ve been spared that part within others that permits them to cross a line that should never, ever be crossed.
Parenting is the hardest job in the world. Single parenting is a nightmare. But I do it and he and I are new at this and we’ll find a way to bob and weave and get through each match unscathed. Relatively. And every morning, no matter how hard it was to get him out of the house and into the car because we’re running late and I’m shrieking like a banshee about catching trains he still kisses me goodbye and tells me he loves me when I leave him off at school. I hope I provide enough love and good times that he forgives the old crone in me that I’m afraid will scar him for life.