I don’t know what kind of mother I am. Most of the time I feel like a mother who is not really all that consistent, and tends to give in way too easily over the ridiculous stuff. A treat really close to dinner? Why not. You want to wear socks with those horrible sandals? Why not. You want to wear a sweater when it is 95 degrees outside? Okay. There are so many little things with my children that I just don’t care to get a fight with them about. I don’t like the sad faces, the crying, even the subdued reaction. It makes me a pansy, and probably not in the running for the mother of the year award. But what I have realized with my children is that if they go to bed alive, than today I did an okay job.
My children, like all children, go through phases. My daughter is currently practising to perfect the puppy dog look so that her daddy will cave everytime she wants something. As I did this, along with my mother before me, I just smile. She is even working on the tears at command which is a lot further than I ever did. I pretty sure my mother would have reacted as I am to the puppy dog look, but once the tears started she would have nipped that in the bud.
My son is currently going through a disrespectful stage. This is a little tougher for me, as I am one of those mothers who expects and demands respect from my children. But when we are talking about sarcasm and this inability to use kind and nice words at all times, I find it is very hard. Do I smack him everytime he opens his mouth? How do I discourage the disrespect, but also encourage the talking and communicating with the world around him? There are times it seems that the only way my six year believes that he can talk to others is through sarcasm. And I don’t think he knows what sarcasm is.
His daddy is sarcastic, and while I think he is trying to work on that for the good of our marriage, there are times my son may have seen that in the past and thought since I knew not to react negatively that it was something he could do. I am just speculating here because I can honestly say my husband would be horrified if he thought my son’s rude behavior was coming from him. More likely he is getting it from the older kids at his school/camp.
I never know how to react. I only have two options, ignore it or go nuts on the boy. With this disease I carry, I work really hard never to overreact. I try to do everything in my power not to let loose, not because I don’t lose my temper like everyone else, but because I can take it too far; so easily. I know that I can say hurtful things without thinking, especially when my anger is engaged. And the truth is while my son deserves my attention and me correcting him when he is wrong, he has never done anything to deserve my disdain.
I have nightmares. Many of nightmares revolve around the stories I have heard from my grandmother who also had this disease. I accept that she had it in a time when medicine wasn’t as prevalent, and doctors truly didn’t understand mental disease. But the things that she did during her episodes sincerely scare me. I am just like her in so many ways, could I be just like her in this? Would I ever take a knife and shove it in the direction of my children? Will I ever forget to change or feed a crying child for hours on end? Would I ever damage my children the in the ways that hers were?
I am honest enough to admit that every mother and every father damages their children in some way. We are the greatest influencers in their lives until the day they leave our watch. We decide in many, many ways who they are going to be, the ways they will dress and present themselves, their self-worth, their intelligence; things so basic that our society puts a price on them as easily as they do the milk we drink. In the war between nature and nuture, the scales tip towards nuture. We can surpress nature, but the nuture or lack thereof is something every child will know.
That is a lot of pressure for any parent. And being bipolar and knowing how easily I can fall, the pressure is even greater. There is a movie called, “Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood”. Watch it, and see my worse nightmares come to life. The misunderstanding from the child, the destruction of the mother. The literal fall of a woman from birth to death. It isn’t about sisterhood as much as it is one woman’s journey through the harsh realities of life. And all those who pay for her journey. All those who die in pieces from her journey. Yes, there is forgiveness in the end; the greatest gift ever, but to get there the journey has to be taken. Every time I watch this movie, a piece of me simply dies.
I am learning that life isn’t about fairness, which is why I work so hard to be fair. Life isn’t easy which is why I try to give my children unexpected moments of pure joy. I try to shake it up, to remind my children that life isn’t all about the rules or the restrictions that are naturally placed upon us. I try to give them surprises, at odd times so they learn to expect them. I try to give them the simple joy that isn’t planned, isn’t budgeted, but rather the natural part of a joyful life.
So when my son, who is only six years old, treats me with disrespect, or isn’t the boy I know he can be, I am not finding myself angry so much as I find myself sad. It makes me sad to acknowledge that just because I am trying my hardest to be a mother without a disease, just because I am working to make life a little bit easier, doesn’t mean he knows or appreciates it. Just because I am working hard, doesn’t mean he will always give me an award. No matter how much I might deserve it.
It is hard to discipline when you are sad. When you just want to hang your head in shame and realize that you might have created the good, but it is also just as possible you created bad. My children give me so much, and while it is not a contest I try to give them more. They are so incredibly precious to me; and there is so much love in my heart for them that they can disappoint me faster, hurt me deeper, and simply take my breath away.