Tuesday, March 15, 2016

SOL #16 I Should Know Better

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.

Written as part of the Slice of Life March writing challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers


  1. I have the feeling he is absolutely certain.

  2. I have the feeling he is absolutely certain.

  3. When someone takes the risk to be transparent others realize they are not alone.
    Thanks for taking the risk today.

    1. That is my goal. I have so appreciated others who do so.

  4. What a powerful Slice! I could FEEL your love for him, and I know he can, too. So beautifully written--sometimes just because we KNOW better doesn't mean we can always DO better. Thank you for sharing. A good reminder that sometimes we all need to take a walk.

    1. I keep thinking of Maya Angelou's quote, that when do better when we know better, and it just makes me feel worse. Thank you for agreeing that it's not always that simple. And yes, those walks are important!

  5. This was beautiful. I know that everyone has these moments. Lucky kid!

    I am a huge fan of Momastery and Glennon. You should also check out Jess at Diary of a Mom - she is a #walkingyardsale and proud of it.

    And that 'both/and' structure is such a fascinating one. I've added it to my Writer's Notebook.

    1. Thank you for the recommendation. I love both/and too. We spend so much time on either/or. Like, if I'm a bad mom, I can't be a good mom too. Or if I'm messy, I can't be organized. But life isn't really like that. We are all infinite, to get grandiose about it.

  6. Oh, Wendy, I am right there with you, dear. And I applaud you for being honest - it's really hard. Raising kids with "issues" can be a maddening experience and sometimes it's even harder when we compare ourselves to the calm, cool and collected moms in the videos or the magazines or the movies. We know in our heads that it's not our kids' fault - they can't control themselves or their responses in the same way we can, so we need to be the bigger person (figuratively, since we already are literally). But knowing that in our heads and acting it out in those painfully frustrating moments are sometimes two different things. We mess up. We get discouraged. We wonder if we're not right for the job. The best we can do is apologize and live out each day knowing there's grace. We keep on fighting for the best life for our kids - and for ourselves - and we do our very best. It's enough. It has to be enough.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Thank you, Nicole. I know you have some similar life experience. And also thank you for bearing with me as I devote a month to not very much bookishness. It makes me so happy when my book blog friends (and I can call you my friend by now, I think) comment on my Slices, and when Slicers pipe up on my bookish posts!


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