Tuesday, July 31, 2007


"The parent I want to be floats in and out of my life, and some days it speaks through me, and other days I lunge after it like it's a shaft of sunlight I want to capture."

This is a quote from Catherine Newman's Column. She's very quotable that Catherine Newman. And yet this quote somehow isn't strong enough for how I feel this morning. Some days I can't see the shaft of sunlight anymore and I just plain don't like the parent I am.

Brandon's homeschooling papers are in stacks on tables and chairs waiting to be graded, filed, mailed in, waiting for inspiration on how to motivate him to do more, to be more...to want more. All my efforts at being inspirational, motivational, a driving force or even a consequence to avoid have failed miserably and I ended up yelling at him once again. And then the yelling seems to fester and grow inside of me and I find my that precious children, who are no different than any day, grate on me like sandpaper. And I am irritated and yelling and snapping at each of them about things that are so small. So very small. And I feel out of control. I cannot find the patience and the gentleness I prayed for just that morning. I cannot find the me in the dark irrationality whirling inside me.

Brandon and Allison know this person. They have seen her before and they head downstairs with looks of "Mom's gone crazy again" to stay out of the storm. And I know this, and I hate it. I hate that they can recognize this biting angry woman as one who has visited before. And Ben, sweet Ben, says "Why you yell, mama?" and that soft voice melts me, but just a little. Not enough.

I head off to my own room alone to pray again. "Lord help me find your patience, your gentleness. Rid me of this spirit of anger, meanness, of irrational irritation with my children, who are innocent. Help me be the parent I should be. The parent they deserve."

And when the storm has passed, and the craziness is over, I apologize to my children for yelling. I admit that I overreacted, but I cannot help but wonder if they are thinking they've heard it before. I speak kindly and softly, hoping to wash away their wariness and anger, that they will not regard me, remember me, as the mother who loses control. The mother that yells and is sometimes hurtful. I hope that the gentleness and love that visits most days, I do think it's most days, will be enough. Enough to cover the coldness like a blanket.


Epiphany Alone said...

I wish I had answers, Joy. Some days it feels like too much to say, "Good morning" pleasantly. It has me awake in the wee hours wondering how I can do better, only to be the same grouch who snaps "Don't bother me" when Lauren comes in to announce that it's morning.


Kicking N. Screaming said...

I remember once when Sarah was just a tiny infant, I'd been running errands with her and she was screaming non-stop. Since I'd allowed a terrible bout with mastitis to convince me to stop breastfeeding, I couldn't just plop down and feed her (and I was consumed with guilt about it). When I finally got her home and made her a bottle I jerked in her direction and barked "Here! Just EAT!" I tell you, the look of terror on her tiny, sweet face is burned forever in my mind and can still make me cry. I know my mother had those days, even when I was a much older teen-ager, but I don't remember them...and that's what keeps me going.

Joy, of course said...

You guys are dear. Very dear. At least I can get a point for ranting and raving at my children like a madwoman, even if I did feel bad eventually. Sigh. See WME gives things a silver lining.