Thursday, July 28, 2011

Forgive me Child, for I have sinned

Some times I can be a real jerk.  Lately I have been especially jerky to my boy, for no known reason other than hormonal surges and exhaustion.  Tonight the jerk in me came out to play again and I broke one of my own rules.  And now I feel terrible, full of guilt and disappointment.  Whenever I find myself in this head space I don't know what to do with myself.  I feel like I need a time out, a drink, a hug, and a slap in the face all at the same time.  I don't know how to process the deep disappointment of violating one of my cardinal rules of parenting

When faced with these kinds of parenting transgressions, tears usually fall and heartfelt apologies are given.  But after that I still feel the need to be punished or at least to have something concrete happen that will mark my contrition, my penance (oops, I think my Catholic childhood is showing).  What is the parenting equivalent of three Hail Marys and an Our Father? I sure as hell don't know.

A part of me knows that every time I have these moments of disappointment, I am open to self-reflection and self-improvement.  I know that being aware of my own inner jerk (Mommy Dearest, maybe?) makes it less likely for her to make a future appearance.  But all this self-awareness and reflection just feels like something to make me feel better in the moment; to be able to say to myself, "Well, you felt like shit for an hour or so, wrote a mopey blog post and cried a little, so now you can move on."

There's a catchy saying I was recently reminded of: that which you resist, persists.  So maybe I should just sit with my guilt and disappointment for a spell, and then just let it go.  In reality, moping and guilt are not going to make me a better parent, not going to make my son feel better (by the way he was totally over it in less than 5 minutes), and definitely not going to make me feel better. 

So why dwell?  It isn't healthy or productive.  So the best course must be to feel, acknowledge, make amends, and  forgive my transgressions.  The hardest part is self-forgiveness.  But why is it so hard to accept that I am not a perfect mother?  Is it really so surprising that I'm not perfect 24 hours a day?!  Where do I get this ideal of perfection?  Surely I don't expect myself to be a perfect partner, perfect friend, perfect employee.  So why do I expect myself to be a perfect mother?  No idea.  I'll blame society and the "mommy wars".   

And still, I want some absolution.  But from whom?  (The Catholic doesn't just disappear because you stop believing in the stuff. I guess in this case a belief in some sort of higher power would come in handy.  I could just pray or confess myself to peace.  'Let go and let God', and all that.)

In the absence of absolution, I'll take a drink and a Hershey's bar with almonds.

1 comment:

  1. All I can say is, I totally feel you. I have so been in that space. Like, is this really how I want to parent?? Of course not. One of my realizations in parenting has been that just knowing how to be a good parent isn't enough. (Same as knowing how to lose weight isn't enough- am I doing what it takes?) A related realization: all of the faults and character flaws that I had before kids are alive and well in my parenting. Did I actually think they were just going to go away? I also beat myself up about it. I know it doesn't necessarily help much, but you're not alone. We all screw up with our kids sometimes. And that's totally not *who you are* as a mom. You're an amazing mom, who just happens to also be human.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.