Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Remorse

"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.

****************
I am cross-posting this post on another blog I contribute to Worst. Mama. Ever. It's a collaborative blog about our mostly comical, but sometimes serious (like this) less that stellar parenting moments.

16 comments:

In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

I sometimes get that way too. And I too, hope and pray that my boyz don't remember me only that way.

Don and Lynn said...

Oh, how I hate those moments. It makes you think less of yourself. I pray everyday that I wouldn't have those times, and most days are good, but those times of "losing it" can seem to take away the whole good week I just had. I never can figure out why I can't make the way I feel just stop. I know things are never as bad as they seem. My mind just blows them up out of proportion. Irrationality is the best description ever. I pray for my patience everday and I instruct (well, more like command-lol) Don to do so also. I suppose it's one of the uglier parts of motherhood that we all endure! I hope my children enjoy and remember the more bountiful "pretty" days rather than the "ugly" ones.

TINA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TINA said...

JOY OH JOY, HOW YOU JUST HIT THE HAMMER ON THE NAIL. I TOO JUST HAD ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS LAST NIGHT WITH BRITTNEE. I FOUND MYSELF IN THE CLOSET JUST SITTING THERE TRYING TO CALM DOWN AND PRAYING THAT GOD WOULD PLEASE HELP ME. I HATE MYSELF WHEN I GET THAT WAY. WHY IS IT THAT OUR CHILDREN CAN ALWAYS HIT THAT ONE NERVE THAT CAUSES US TO EXPLODE? I SULK OVER THE FACT THAT BRITTNEE AND I ARE ALWAYS AT EACHOTHER AND THAT WE DONT HAVE A BETTER RELATIONSHIP. I TOO PRAY ALL THE TIME FOR GODS EVERLASTING PATIENCE AND GUIDENCE. HANG IN THERE, YOU ARE SO NOT ALONE.

Beck said...

Isn't that the worst feeling?
Today is a new day.

Christine said...

I could have written this, but not so eloquently.

you are a wonderfully normal mother who gets mad. really mad. i do too and then later feel so awful. but i too apologize. and that is so important for us and for our kids. my parents never (still don't) apologize for anything no matter what. but apologizing isn't backing down, it is taking responsibility for when we are wrong or when we have over reacted.

You are a good mama, and in their hearts those kids know it.

Lori said...

It's difficult to start thinking about what our kids will remember of their childhood- what they will remember of us. I don't "lose it" very often, but the times I do I fear will be imprinted on my children's hearts and memories forever.

Here is what gives me hope though... on more than one class assignment, or piece of poetry, my boys have ascribed the adjective of "patient" to me. I am not very patient, mind you. But it gives me hope to think that despite all of my impatience, for some reason they see me as a patient person. I'll bet you would be surprised to know just how many positive adjectives your kids would use to describe you too.

I am praying that your day improves and you find that spirit of joy again that I know is inside you. You love those kids so much. They know that.

Lori said...

I was thinking about this some more, and I realized I didn't address what first set you off. I am completely sympathetic to your frustration with how to motivate an adolescent boy. I don't know how you do it. I could never homeschool my oldest son for exactly the reasons you describe. I fear we would end up killing each other. :)

slouching mom said...

Like Lori, I don't know how you homeschool. I don't think I could do it. No, I know I couldn't do it.

So kudos to you, and I know -- I KNOW -- that the good moments eclipse the bad ones. You are a good mama.

Jenn said...

I am in awe that you can home school.

I honestly do not think that I could do it...give yourself some credit.

They'll remember the love, really, they will.

bubandpie said...

It's so true. Motherhood drives me to prayer like nothing else.

Joy, of course said...

What a blessing you all are to me. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to get on here and see all these supportive and non-judgemental comments. I wrote most of this post last night when I was feeling really down on myself, but so far today has been much better..

Kyla said...

Doesn't everyone have those days? Motherhood doesn't take the human out of you...it just adds more pressure. We fail, not just in our mothering, but in all areas, imperfections make us human. The important thing is to own our mistakes and go on, because one day our children will be parents and they will need to know how to do the same. Even in those moments you aren't proud of yourself, you are doing your children a service...teaching them that we all make mistakes at times, but we make it right and continue on.

thirtysomething said...

I know this whirlwind. So well. Hang in there, you are raising wonderful caring children, but they also need to know that Mama is human too and we get irritated and upset and have bad days, just like they do.

spaz said...

I really can't add to what these moms have said. I can say "Me too!" Isn't it just comforting to know you are not alone? All our kids will be in therapy together :) Or some kind of "my mom was mean" support group.
I love you and admire you for being so authentic and real. Thank you.

Lisa writes... said...

Oh, Joy, if you could only know the remorse that I had felt this week...my heart has been broken and guilt and condemnation, as well as conviction let's be honest, have weighed heavy on me. I am so very thankful that God's mercies are new every morning--how great is His faithfulness!