Since the year began I have felt under the gun. Time melting away, streaming through my fingers so fast it might as well have been made of water, and I found myself feeling so futile, so frustratingly inept, that I merely stared as it did so. It all felt dictated to me. My relationships have suffered. My inner scream coming out to only sound in anger at my kids and not giving voice to the true hurt within me. Tumult and drama are difficult for me to address up front; diminishment before words are unleashed being my foremost talent.
Affirmations and attestations of love do little when I have retreated behind the wall of safety: self inflicted damage and abandonment. Control the where and how of the pain. It will hurt less that way.
It’s a very wretched spot to be in. And though there might be triggers, might indeed be justified reasons for me hurt, the end result is not one of healing but more self vilification. Some cycle, eh?
Some of what goes into this is the awareness that so few really get what the experience is of a stay at home mom (SAHM). Fewer still seem to have a comprehension of what it is to be a homeschooling SAHM. Add to that the wife of an entrepreneur of two small businesses, mother to a child with celiac disease, and the peer group shrinks still more.
I feel alone most of the time. Lost too much. Feeling present is nothing more than a reminder of how very tired I am and how frustrated I am that my only audience is two little people for whom I should be their audience.
That inner voice of mine has wanted to scream so much my jaw hurts with the requirements of my commitment to my children from fighting it. One year without yelling. Today was the first day I managed it.
While the part of me that wants approval, support for how very burnt out I am, wishes to give the laundry list of the insane schedule I keep the bigger story lies away from those details. For those details are not reasons to treat the ones I love most with unthinking cruelty; with outbursts I try to convince my children not to have. There are no acceptable reasons for them. There are excuses. Justifications for being a bully, for causing them fear and using it against them. It doesn’t matter that the sadism wasn’t/isn’t my intent, only that it’s the result of my arrested development.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. Mostly.
You see, at the crux of my frustration is this very deep need of being acknowledged, respected, and appreciated for who I am and what I do. As a rule I don’t seek approval from my kids – it’s inappropriate and, if you’ve been around a two year old and almost six year old you know this isn’t likely – and so I try to keep at what I love: writing. Well, that takes time without kids. I do not have time without kids except for when they’re asleep. And thus my problem. Or so I thought.
This week, instead, my family awoke on Thursday to discover my daughter had a sudden limp. No injury, no trauma that would result in her leg buckling when she put weight on it, and palpating/manipulating the limb resulted in no pain reactions. None.
Every fear I do my best to keep in the shadows of my mind were thrown into stark relief with the spotlight that stripped it away. The best I managed was to interrupt every thought that ended with cancer. Worse. That my two year old might have it.
To allay your fears let me just say: no she doesn’t. This was determined after one round with our family doctor (our ND who then referred us to the Children’s Hospital) and about seven hours at the hospital. Most of that waiting in the waiting room. Blood tests had been ordered and run, x-rays taken – two rounds – and all came back with negative results.
It was one of the longest days of my life. One in which the relationship with my husband seemed to find stronger ground and my self awareness and wants did an about face.
I would give up anything and everything if it meant my children would be healthy.
There were no exceptions to this. At the darkest times when my husband and I were waiting for test results in that little room in the ER I even told him writing didn’t matter. The kids did.
It is easy to think these words. Possibilities ripe with horror or relief waiting and warring to see which would come to pass have a tendency of creating momentary change in the best of circumstances or for those who experience the horror that change is necessarily permanent.
We are lucky. It was not to be that my daughter be diagnosed with something fatal, but instead we were gifted with a peace of mind and what will be a very large hospital bill. This relief created a new awareness for me beyond all the superficiality of what I would do (everything) and what I wouldn’t do (nothing) for my kids to be healthy. A mental list of what I would regret formed along side the things I wouldn’t/didn’t.
I would never regret holding my children. Never think I did it too much. Instead, thinking of having empty arms made me know there would never be too much of this good touch – always the want of doing more.
I would always regret scaring my children. Making them fear me, causing their justified anger and/or resentment. Hurting them is optional and it’s something I wish to never do again.
I would never regret co-sleeping. Those night time cuddles, the assurance of rolling over and feeling and smelling the warmth and exhalations of those (not so small) warm bodies, the knowledge that when they awake at night and need comfort it can be had without disruption. That my son, who used to have nightmares, now says how he never has bad dreams anymore.
I will always regret rushing them. Making them feel bad (or angry with me) for taking the time to sort out their thoughts, to explain to me in their own words what their observations or feelings are about a situation. The space these negative experiences I inflict upon them I likewise always regret.
I will never regret quiet moments of story telling or having a cup of tea at Canterlot Castle.
I will never regret saying “I love you” several times a day because these are words I can only hope I communicate so often that they can take them for granted.
I will always regret when I tell them “a few more minutes” as I tend to technology. For it is another moment I treated something/someone else as more important than them. And there isn’t.
I will never regret breastfeeding my child until she was ready to ween. That it is natural and beautiful; a place of steadiness and comfort as well as nourishment especially in times of stress.
I would always regret hitting my children. To have caused fear and pain instead of teaching the strength in kindness and empathy. That respect is not the same as fear; love does not require fear in order to be had.
Love is its own ends. Perfectly justified and everyone is worthy of it.
With this fresh in my heart I renewed my vow to work on a year of not yelling. Tonight at bedtime I asked my almost six year old son if I had yelled – I thought I had – and he said no and that it was good I hadn’t. It was the only encouragement I needed to continue into another day and adding more days to that goal. One day of no yelling. One day of not causing fear. One day where more distance wasn’t created. One day where the cuddles weren’t to soothe, but to enjoy each other’s company.
Just as I know that one day will come when I will not see or be with my children every day, that those days are fast approaching even during the slow days of tantrums and illness, I know that the things I won’t regret have everything to do decisions I made from the love I bear them.