Best Qualities As A Mother

UPDATE

Since B stated 18 months ago that he might want to divorce we have done a lot to try to save our relationship. This includes a Marriage Encounter weekend, his therapist, my therapist and a joint marriage therapist. I have decreased my yelling to a trickle, have kept the house in good shape and have lost weight. Frankly, things had been improving for close to a year but lately I have noticed that we have been regressing. More grudges, less sex, 66% less dialoging, etc. I am a very intuitive person and I “feel” these changes and recognize them for what they are and lately I have been feeling really anxious about them.

imgres-2

I have never been an anxious person even when I have had plenty to be anxious about. For 57 years I have kept most of that anxiety stuff swept under the rug. But lately, it has occurred to me that as B distances himself my anxiety rises. It is an uncomfortable place to be. Sometimes it even makes me question my sanity because I tell him I am feeling the distance which he denies but then three weeks later at a therapy session he uses the words and admits that when x happened he distanced himself all the while denying my concerns for the past weeks.  It is a crazy way to live.

BEST QUALITIES

Recently, we had a dialogue question that asked each of us to talk about our partners best qualities as a parent. In the allotted 10 minutes I wrote about 7 qualities that B has that I think make him a great parent.

Now I know in dialogue you are not supposed to judge the other’s response because they are based on “feelings.” And feelings may be factually true or not but the bottom line is that they are what they are. So when B wrote about the qualities he admired that I had as a parent it basically came down to the fact that “I cared for my children.” To say I was hurt that this was the only quality he listed was an understatement.

Everyone cares for their children. You care for your dog. You care whether you have enough toilet paper in the house to last the entire week. Caring for your children really doesn’t get any accolades in my book. It is something we all do… even badgers, skunks and probably even one-cell amoebas.

images

So I took this to my therapist. She wanted me to write down what I wished he had said about my good qualities as a parent. Here goes:

  1. I wish he had said that I am good about seeing or initiating those deep soulful and meaningful talks when they need them to boost their confidence, understanding of life or just need to express their concerns. I wish he had said he knew that most of the time they seek me out which shows that they trust my love and advice.
  2. I wish he had said that I love my kids fiercely and deeply and that they know that they can count on that love and can trust me to be there for them forever.
  3. I wish he had said that my children know I believe in them and that I think that they can accomplish whatever it is that they set out to do and that by knowing this it will take them far in life.
  4. I wish he had said that he knows I am their biggest fans and that I cheer them on with encouragement when they are lacking the spunk to make that “final touchdown” in whatever it is they are doing.
  5. I wish he had said I am a “good” parent far more often than a “bad” one and that even when I fail it is not intentional or malicious.
  6. I wish he had said that raising six kids, two of whom have autism, would be a tough job for anyone and that it is amazing I don’t lose it every day.
  7. I wish he had said that my kids had experienced so much of this world thanks to me and that if it was left to him they would not have.
  8. I wish he had said that I try my best to teach them the important things that they will need to navigate their lives now and in the future.
  9. I wish he had said that I am “good enough” parent some of the time (which is okay) and a great parent when it really counts.
  10. I give good hugs.
  11. I wish he had said that I encourage my kids to take risks which creates opportunities for them to believe in themselves.
  12. I wish he had said I am an honest parent in dealing with my kids and all the people we have to deal with because of their interests and their issues and that my honesty helps provide desperately needed clarity.
  13. I just wish he had said I am a good mother and he could not manage without me.

And while this exercise was difficult because I kept wanting to explain or add in the negative to balance it all out, I didn’t because this is my gift to myself and a tribute to who I am as a parent. I don’t NEED B to validate it…but it would have been nice.

Gone For Good

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep I had a wonderful idea for a blog piece. I knew I should kick the covers off of my feet, trot downstairs, and write the idea down. But I didn’t and, of course, this morning I can no longer remember what that most excellent idea was. Believe me when I say it was fabulous because it was…the fringes of my mind tell me so.

images-6

This isn’t the first time this “mysterious” loss of memory has happened. I have had “million dollar” ideas that would change the world in profound ways that were lost somewhere in my dreams. I have had ideas for novels fly down the rabbit hole and other important thoughts vanish into thin air upon awakening. But the worst thing about all this is that my memory loss no longer occurs only when I lay my head on my pillow but throughout the day as well. It’s getting scary.

Just yesterday, I walked into a different room three times during the coarse of the day and could no longer remember what I had come into the room for in the first place. I also call my children the wrong names to the point that they now answer to “Hey, you!”  And I have five pairs of glasses from five different periods in my eyewear life floating around my house because I can never find the current prescription pair.  One minute I have 20/20 vision the next 30/70….no wonder my brain seems so scrambled…it’s constantly getting mixed signals!

I have tried various things in an effect to improve my memory. For a while kale became my “go to” snack. I ingested so much fish oil that I started to grow gills. I increased my sleep time but than only seemed to increase the fog. I even bought one of those free improve your memory apps but it expired before I remembered to use it. Yes, I think I have tried it all.

You would think with all the pharmaceutical “cures” for this disease or that affliction that they could come up with something that would help those of us who are “memory challenged.” I have even gotten so desperate that I have considered pilfering my neighbors viagra because:

a. I know his wife doesn’t want to have sex with him anymore and I owe her big time because she has kept her mouth shut after what could be considered a blackmailable event.

b. I figure if that if little blue pill can make a dick go up then it certainly can make my memory quotient and IQ increase as well.  I am fairly certain that if it mimics what happens “down there” way “up there,” it should make my mind stronger, straighter and last much longer. And we all know that men’s brains reside in the head of their penis.

Unfortunately, “Tom” keeps this “family jewel” of a prescription locked up tighter than Fort Knox so testing my hypothesis is proving to be more difficult than I had originally anticipated. And while I would like to think viagra would increase my ability to remember things, with all my luck it would just give me “iceberg” nipples for the rest of my life.

When my friends and neighbors begin to realize the extent of my problem they tried to be tolerant and  kind but after you have stood them up for coffee five times it grows old. Yet, they still continue to assure me (I think) that this is only menopause fog and that it will get better especially once all of my kids are out of the house. These same friends have also begun to share their deepest darkest secrets with me knowing that within two hours I will no longer remember what they have said and they swear my advice is good as gold.Yes, I’m now the confessional priest of my neighborhood to such an extent that I am sure church attendance is way down and that the “Vatican mob” will be coming after me soon.

Yet, even with all my memory loss issues I still believe I am way ahead of the game and that a possible presidential run is in my future. After all, Hillary is unable to remember where 30,000 emails disappeared to and The Donald has uttered the words “I don’t remember” probably close to a million times during the hundreds of depositions he has given in court proceedings against him.

In the meantime, in an attempt to keep myself safe, I am contemplating a reverse tattoo which when viewed in a mirror will list my address and phone number so that I can make it home. And I think it might work …. if I can just remember that it is there.

1369847707_4085_memory

Departing Wisdom

Running-Late

Recently I saw a sign which read: WHEN ANGER ENTERS, WISDOM DEPARTS. These words touched my heart as well as the profound which rests in my soul. I felt as I read this simple truth that the words were meant for me alone and that they were there because I needed that gentle reminder.

This summer has been hectic what with sports practice five days a week, my volunteer work and with my chauffeuring  kids to college and high school summer school. The reason for my increasing anxiety over the summer is a very tight schedule in which pick up and delivery had to be perfectly timed. Frankly, I don’t do being late well. For whatever reason since I was a little kid it was hardwired into my brain that you are not late. EVER. And I have lived by that rule my entire life. Except once. That was the time I was 5 minutes late and it haunted me for days.

“If you are late it shows a complete disregard for others and that you think that your time is more important than theirs. Your time is no more or less important than any one else’s. Don’t forget that!” admonished my father throughout my growing up years.

And so I have a heightened sense of anxiety if I have the slightest inkling that I (or anyone I am responsible for) will be late.

The lengths to which I go to ensure that I am never late come with a price…my sanity. I am three hours early before taking an airline flight. I am 30 minutes early for my Gracie’s orchestra performance. I am early enough to get my choice of premium parking spaces and my favorite pew at church. I get the best seats at the movie theater and I am always the person who is waiting for their friend to show up for coffee. Anyone who knows me knows that if I am 10 minutes late that means I am probably stone-cold dead.

images-7

And so with back-to-back obligations this summer it is hardly surprising that I found it difficult to just stay calm. Unfortunately, as my anxiety rose it often turned to anger. This is not to say that I yelled…I didn’t…but irritation crept into my voice way too often and words came out of my mouth that that are not meant to be heard by a child. Thoughts of shooting the bird to that 85 year old woman driving at a speed of 10 miles per hour entered my mind on way too many occasions. And as my anxiety/anger increased I became distracted and I once almost mowed down a kid on a bike doing stupid tricks in the street to impress his buddies.

As I reviewed my actions during these dog days of summer  it became apparent to me that in those moments of high anxiety and anger; my wisdom did indeed depart because:

I said thoughtless things.

I thought evil thoughts.

I showed my children a side of me that they do not want to see.

And I disregarded my own health by letting stress take minutes off my life multiple times a week.

So in an attempt to increase my sanity I made a change. I now have the saying WHEN ANGER ENTERS, WISDOM DEPARTS taped to my dashboard. I find it comforting. And now as I drive along and the tension starts mounting, I just look down to give myself a gentle and loving reminder that wisdom in all aspects of my life are important if I am to become all that I am meant to be.

imgres-8

 

 

IF

images-10

If I was an oarsman…I would paddle through stormy oceans

To bring you back to me

If I was an engineer…I would shovel the coal and steam full speed ahead

To bring you back to me

If I was a pilot…I would fly around the world searching

To bring you back to me

If I was a a trucker…I would pay the tolls

To bring you back to me

If I was a mailman…I would apply as many stamps as needed

To bring you back to me

If I was in the Special Forces…I would hack my way through jungles

To bring you back to me

But I am none of those

And incapable of bringing you anywhere

You have to walk to me

On your own two feet

Of your own volition

With love in your heart and strength in your eyes

You have to plumb the depths of your soul

To figure out

Who you are to yourself, to me, and to our children

And where you want to be

You have to make the decision

To find me again or not

For I am here with empty arms

Waiting to see…

If you will choose the hard path or the easy one

If you will honor your vows

If you will be here because you want to be

If you will be the man I used to know

If you will allow yourself

To fall in love again

With me and all that I represent

And know this

If you choose to walk away

I will not take you back

So be sure what you are doing

Will bring you the happiness that you

Are sure that you are missing

And know that we will all be forever changed

As you search for what you think is out there

No oarsman, pilot or trucker now needed

To bring you back to what you already had

That is now gone…forever

images-8

STANDING ON THE OUTSIDE

As you stand on the outside

Looking in

You will see that I still have

A smile on my face

And deep love in my heart

Our children will still laugh

And I will still sing

With you firmly on the outside of our lives…

As you stand on the outside

Looking on in

You might see a new man

Being the father to your children

That you swore you would always be

Yet, he is with them now

And he is with me

A woman still capable of happiness and great love

He was lucky enough to find me

And smart enough to know a treasure when he saw one…

As you stand on the outside

Looking in

You will see your reflection in the glass

Will you like what you see?

Will you be proud of what you have done?

Or will you wish

That you had been wiser

And realized that your perfect ideal of a “happy” life

Was just a fantasy that never came true

As you searched for greener pastures elsewhere

And you gave up something

Rare and beautiful

For nothing…

As you stand on the outside

Looking in

On everything beautiful

You once had

But didn’t appreciate

Will you appreciate it now

That you are standing on the outside

Excluded and alone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOU ARE THE JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER

imgres-1

This weekend I was on trial. YOU KNEW I have been having severe pain for weeks and was having it when the “incident” happened. You knew my cousin was visiting but you would not step in and control the boys when they were so out of control.  You did not step in to help but instead chose to sit in judgement me when I finally lost it. And I didn’t even yell. NOT ONCE. How dare you!

You say,” I don’t know if I can live with you because you yell too much”, so I quit.Now its, “I don’t know if I can live with you because you sound stern and mad and point your finger.” How would you like me to handle discipline in our home so our kids know that things are a serious matter? Smile sweetly and in a chirpy voice say, “Oh please, sweet boys stop what you are doing. I beg of you?” UGH.

I am NOT your mother. You are NOT my son. I am who I am. A person trying their best. Changing. Me Changing. Yet somehow it always seems as though I am the person in this relationship needing to be the one to change…what about you? Are you putting as much effort into those things I told you I would like to see you change? Let me answer that for you. NO you are not.

So let me in on a little secret. People get upset. Yeah I know you don’t like to because you want everyone to like you especially our kids. Our kids who know this is your weakness and exploit it. Our adult daughter who admits this and says it sucks for the adult but is grand for the child. Guess what, I have emotions that I show which make you uncomfortable because you don’t or won’t show yours because your mother punished you for it and you are afraid that will happen with me. No insist that it will/does so you use it as your excuse not to figure out who you are as an emotional being.  And yet you stand in judgement of me. And if I don’t do what you want, what you need, then you will leave. But surprise it might be me whose ass is hit by the door on the way out because I have to be who I am and frankly it ain’t so bad. Sure there are things that need refining. But at least I feel. At least I can say what it is I know as my truth, my faults, my goods and my bads.  I show those sides of me and no one has to spend their energy trying to guess what it is going on inside my head.

And surprise, here is one for you…often I can even understand why you feel the way you do. But just because I speak my truth in the way I do and you get flooded…that has nothing to do with me but with your relationship with your mother and I cannot deal with that because it is your issue that you do not want to have to look hard at.

And so I go to my therapist and we go to joint counseling but when are you going to go down deep and work on you? I’m trying to change for me, for us and for our family and to do so I am having to go to places I don’t want to examine but I do it because it needs to be done. When are you going to get brave and do that too? When are you going to really look at how your past is effecting our lives now and in the future?

 

Losing It

imgres

As you know I am desperately trying to curb my yelling habit and for the most part I am succeeding. I had only yelled once in over eight weeks which in itself is amazing but this weekend I lost it.

It isn’t easy raising teenagers especially those with autism. Andre does everything he can to push my buttons. While incredibly smart he also uses that keen intelligence of his to manipulate those around him and it is draining. This weekend after repeatedly asking him to hang up his clothes he told me, “I don’t have hangers.” I responded by going to his closet and started throwing every hanger he had out saying repeatedly “Here’s a hanger, here’s a hanger” until I had thrown at least 30 into the middle of his room. Then I decided that he could go through all the shirts and get rid of those that no longer fit him and took all those shirts off their hangers and threw them in the middle of his room until his closet was bare. During this time he was intentionally saying “push your button” things that just fueled the fire; the embers rising swift and hot like my temper.

I hate when I lose it with my kids. It makes me feel so small. It makes me beat myself up about not being a parent that my children deserve and certainly not one whose behavior I want them to emulate to their own brood when they become adults. Losing it with my children feels like it diminishes my capacity to be a fully functional human being and that in losing it I also sacrifice part of my own humanity in the process; something I can ill afford. I hate it.

Mindfulness has helped change many of my reactions to situations but what do you do when mindfulness dissipates in the heat of the moment?

I am learning to apologize and pray that the others involved grant me grace. Then I sit in the moment of shame, observe it, then let it go. For they tell me that the only way we can feel diminished is through self-talk in which we berate ourselves for our numerous failures. Frankly, that kind of talk doesn’t get you very far in life and I’ve done enough of it to know. Dispassionate observation of what occurred and pausing to recognize what happened and then letting it go is my only option.  Then I just forge ahead with the belief that I can and will try to do better.Truly it is the only thing I can do.