Down with the Ship

Captain’s Log…July 30, 2014

 9:53 pm 

Okay, so I homeschool my kids, and I tend to pay more attention to the activities of the older two—neglecting shrieking pee-bot’s enlightenment. This became apparent to me today when I chanced upon a story-time after dropping the boys off at their gardening camp in Middleton. I went to the library and after picking up some graphic novels for me, I was waved into the “story-time nook” by a very pretty Indian woman. I was sure she was waving at someone else, but shrieking pee-bot (already better socialized than I am) said “Hi!” and we went into the room.

I panicked, being in an unfamiliar library. Middleton is one of Madison’s conjoined twins, not quite as liberal and “hip” as Madison, but a really nice town with a beautiful library (they have a bearded dragon!) I feel like as soon as I appear anywhere in Middleton, they all think, “Madison East-sider,” as the East side is where all of us freaks & hippies live.

Anyhoo, I was assuring myself that I had a right to be in story time and doing my best to blend in (picture the survivors towards the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers,) when I realized that—much like me—shrieking pee-bot had little idea of what to do in a crowd of her peers. Then I realized I have never taken her to a toddler event. Poor thing! She watched warily as the kids clapped & counted & danced & participated. She wouldn’t even chase bubbles due to her uncertainty about the event. She did, however, pick up her little mat & put it away at the end of the night like all the other kiddos. So smart! I didn’t push her to participate, but I did make a mental note to get her to more toddler events. Fuck, maybe she’ll start talking if she has a crowd who gets her.

As I was being the supportive only-participate-if-you-want-to-mom, I was sitting next to the get-your-ass-in-there-&-sing-along-dammit mom. She was the story-time equivalent of those parents that go to their kids baseball games & scream at them from the bleachers. If one of her little boys didn’t do what the librarians asked the kids to do, she would hiss at them to do it. If they still didn’t, she would give them a sharp nudge with her hand or her foot. I don’t know. Maybe she was having a hard time. She was watching three boys. Maybe she was worn out. But her kids were sitting there pretty calmly (compared to my kids!) and she was attacking them if they moved off their mat or didn’t chase the bubbles when the other kids did. So weird. I’m glad I’m not “that mom.”  Of course, she is probably blogging right now about the freak mom who let her kids do what they wanted to do.

Meanwhile, on my own homefront, I had a rough day yesterday. A bit better today, but Thing Two has me worn out and shrieking pee-bot and the baby are trying to finish me off. If I just had one of them, just one, it would be challenging. All three of them?? What the fuck am I doing? Do I have something to prove? Am I trying to show off that I’m a stud in some fucking parent triathlon of torture?

Yesterday, as the morning began with threats and challenges from Thing Two, I yelled from the safety of the bathroom, “I’m not going to do this again! I’m not!” But then I thought of the alternatives. What was I going to do? Run away? Check into a psyche ward? Start using physical punishment? Threaten, belittle, and shake my kid? What was I going to do, really?

I was going to face the day and—yes—do it all over again if I had to. Because I’m a mom. Because I’m not going to give up on the idea that there is a healthy and positive way to deal with the way Thing Two is acting out. Because I do believe that he is in pain when he lashes out, and that I need to offer him a safe place and boundaries for his behavior. So, yeah, doing it again. Hiding in the bathroom and crying some of the time, but doing it again. And again. For as many times as I have to.

 

Captain’s Log…July 31, 2014

 2:09 pm

I have to laugh…or I cry.

I feel overwhelmed.

Saturated & empty all at the same time.

 

Captain’s Log…August 1, 2014

1:48 pm

Everything I was worried about about having another baby has come true.

 9:09 pm

The dad just came home to say that his brother, who seems to be having a paranoid break from reality directed at the government, has decided that “love is the answer.”

I laugh.

Why?

Because I have never experienced that.

I feel like I do not have a heart.

I feel dead inside.

I spend my mornings trying to be so fucking goddamned positive, only to be brought to my knees by a six year old. What kind of mother am I? I don’t know how to make him feel better. I don’t know how to make myself feel better.

Every morning.

Every day.

Like some horrifying limbo.

The dad gets ready to leave this morning, his dirty dishes everywhere. I ask if he could be sure to wash dishes that we only have one of (one pot, one strainer—both dirty in the sink) so that I can use them during the day.

He tells me his day awaits him at work.

I tell him, I have worked in restaurants. I know what he does all day. And I know how that compares to what I do all day. Working in a restaurant has never left me feeling completely defeated.

Fucking exhausted.

I used to go out on the town after a double in a restaurant. I would work 6 hours. Go home. Go back for 5 more hours, and then go out drinking.

I didn’t fall asleep at 8 pm—so fucking tired—but knowing I would have to get up again because things weren’t done.

I don’t feel like a good person right now.

Much less a good mom.

All my life, I have felt unlovable. Unworthy. Why? Why am I so damaged?

 

Captain’s Log…August 4, 2014

10:38 pm

I am tired. The baby has been restless and not sleeping well. He usually invites me to join in his baby misery. I am tired.

Today wasn’t too bad. We went out to a friend’s house with minimal fighting. Minimal bickering. I was minimally grumpy. I was able to step back and parent like a sane person.

I thought tonight as I was laying the shrieking pee-bot down to sleep. “I’m a good mom. I sincerely want what’s best for my kids…but sometimes I’m a bad mom because I expect too much of my kids.”

Lately I find myself laughing instead of crying. I’m not sure if that is a good sign…or a scary one.

Lately I think people who give parenting advice are filled to the brim with stinky poo. Someone once told me, “Boys start out hard & get easier. Girls start out easy & get harder.”

LIAR!

People have also told me, multiple times, “Going from one kid to two is the hardest transition,” and “Once you have three, four doesn’t even make a difference.”

LIARS!

Or maybe they just didn’t have kids like mine. Passionate. Spirited. Intelligent. Creative. Determined. (That’s the good way of putting it…the positive spin. That’s where I’m going tonight. The positive spin.)

I am sitting here at my laptop, one beer drank, waiting for the Dad to come back from wherever he disappeared to at bedtime rather than reading to Thing One and Thing Two. He disappeared almost two hours ago. I want to talk to him about my impending departure from sharing space with him. Is he staying in this apartment? Can I stay in this apartment? What about kid placement? Can he handle all four? Should we split them up? Can we postpone overnights with him for the two youngest?

But he is not here. I finally prepared myself to talk to him, and he is not here. He knows I am looking for somewhere to live, but he is in denial. He won’t respond much when I bring it up, and he never brings it up. We need to fucking talk about this. We so rarely have a chance to talk. But he is off somewhere with his brother who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Yay that he cares enough to watch out for his brother—but what about his family that is falling apart? What about figuring out his own future? What about making sure his kids aren’t acting out because they are freaked out about this upcoming split? What about us?

This is the way it is with the Dad. He likes to rescue other people while neglecting me & the kids. For some reason, he always has a better cause than us—even if it is just a virtual one in a video game. For some reason, we don’t compare. We don’t register. We fall through the cracks of his never-ending efforts to avoid his own reality.

So I sit and wait. Hoping to sort out my near future. The kids’ future. His future.

Maybe I will leave a note taped to his laptop.

I am so tired.

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