This is my most vulnerable slice yet. I'm sharing my shame here, somewhat against my better judgement. But the writers I admire the most are the honest ones, the ones who say, "This is how I'm broken; don't worry, we all are in some way or another." Anne Lamott, not your Facebook friends. So I'm laying it out there. Two great bloggers, Glennon of Momastery and Beth of Five Kids is a Lot of Kids, write frequently about both/and. I am both a terrible mom and a great one. What are your both/and aspects?
I should know better.
I should, by now, know 100% better.
First, I should know when a month has passed and I need to order the meds again. I should know that it takes longer to get his meds than it does to get all our other prescriptions, because his doctor has to give written approval to the pharmacy every. single. month.
Then, when we're in those painful days between meds--since apparently I don't know better about timely ordering--I should know not to engage.
Not to argue when he claims that he doesn't have to take a bath because it ISN'T REALLY 6:00.
Not to raise my voice when he counters my reminder to say "Yes, Mom" by saying isn't he supposed to say yes, Dad? What?!? Are you seriously not capable of transferring that from one parent to the other?
Not to engage in the mindless and irrelevant discussion about whether or not the silly putty he's sticking to the coffee table belongs to him or his sister, but also not to lose my temper over the mindlessness and irrelevance and rip the damn stuff out of his hand.
You can't teach calming techniques by ramping up. You can't teach respectful communication by shrieking.
You sure as hell can't teach kindness by physically bullying someone half your size.
It's been nearly four years of living with this child of chaos and trauma. Four years of a kid who is fearful yet aggressive, longing for connection but seeking it in negative engagement. I've taken classes, worked with counselors, read books, watched the videos. (The adults are always so calm, so unflappable in those videos.) I've gone on medicine to help me deal with the shrewishness menopause seems to elicit in my family (gee thanks, Mom), I've tried to meditate and be mindful.
But I still screw up, dear God, do I still screw up.
As soon as I'd gotten the putty into a safe receptacle, I grabbed my coat and headed out the door. Twenty minutes later my hair was dripping with rain, but I was feeling better. He was on the porch working on his bike when I got back, and greeted me cheerfully.
I made dinner. We ate. I helped with homework, then read him a chapter from his book. He begged for another, and I said no--I'm hoping for an early night myself. He cocked his head at me and said, "What about for a repair?"
Family rule. You're mean to someone, you make it up to them. We read the second chapter, his head resting comfortably on my shoulder.
"I should have taken that walk sooner, huh?" I say.
"Yep," he agrees. "Do you think my meds will get here tomorrow?"
"I sure hope so," I tell him. "I'm sorry I blew up at you. I love you."
"I'm sorry I was being a jerk. I love you too."
I should know better, but I don't. What I do know is that my love for this kid outweighs my frustration with him.
I just hope he knows that.