I lost it today. To be fair, it was a three snooze alarm morning for me so I was off to a fifteen minute late start when my feet hit the bedroom floor. But I am tired. Dreadfully overwhelmed and tired and it is only Monday.
Trying to wrangle three kids out of the house with packed lunch boxes, all their homework, clean teeth, shoes on their feet, jackets on their bodies, library books in their backpacks…hell, their backpacks themselves at the same time trying to brush my own hair and teeth, put the dog out, catch the cat and ensure that I was not only wearing pants, but had all the work I needed to complete this morning in my bag. I implored us not to be late because it is rude to their teachers and I had to be at the Parent Association meeting at school. I needed them to pull their weight.
We only have two house rules around here and they are 1) Don’t be a dick. and 2) Make things easier for someone else. I broke that first rule and all three of my kids broke the second. And yes, we adults say the D-word. It leaves no room for confusion.
In that moment I felt like I was the worst parent in the world. How could I love three people madly when those same three people drive me mad? Am I the only one who feels like this? I mean most of the parents at school drop off have outfits on and their hair is done. Looking around, I must be the only one who screamed at her kids this morning. How about online? They all have it together too. Lately the sanitised trend in the world of parenting bloggers is swinging back from reality writing to washing everything with an generic illusion of happily ever after, designer clothes and Pinterest perfect lunch creations… for the sake of the children. Think of the children. It is like the Stepford Wives of my 70’s childhood growing up in the south when they were really Valley of the Dolls, smoking and drinking and spanking the kids behind closed doors.
I lost it in front of my kids because I felt too ashamed to come to my tribe online and vent. I was worried about the virtual school yard mums who are going to sit around behind computers and anonymous GOMI accounts typing in whispers and casting poorly hidden glances my way. “What happened to privacy”, they’ll say. Well, I haven’t peed alone with the bathroom door shut since 2004 so I have a very warped sense of what that word means.
That frustration exploding at home (in private) is the damaging force in my life. What I keep inside, not what I share with the world is making me a worse parent for my children. So today I am taking a stand. I will not be shamed into a lonely corner because I am sharing my story of raising my children. Mine. Not yours, mine. You might find something that resonates with you and your journey with your family and I celebrate illuminating that for you. Or you might think, “Thank god she isn’t raising my kids!” You might fear for my three when they grow up and the world knows something about them already. Something I have carefully curated just like everyone else, yet in my own way. Maybe you will be right. Obviously I do not agree because my kids are growing up in my house. I know my kids are loved like crazy, taught about the new tech frontiers and what we know right now about what it means to be online. They discuss what we don’t know too. They do not need or want your concern. We live in a really open house. My kids see me taking my Zoloft everyday because they know that anxiety and depression runs deeply through my family and they know that I love myself and them every single day to fiercely fight for a balanced life. They see me sharing part of our story online and they understand that nothing is ever the whole story. That influences the way they deal with others. They are not embarrassed, they are proud.
So this morning I was the crazy mom with mismatched socks and a tear stained face dropping her kids off just as the bell goes. My friends are the ones who come say “Are you ok?” or “I get it.” They are the ones that know and make me feel less alone. They regale me with stories of when they were even more cross than I was. They tell me the times they said “I hate XYZ.” They give my kids an extra hug and they tell them to get it together. They do the same for me. They see me behind the mask I tried to fashion for myself. They are the ones that will see me at school this afternoon before the bell rings working overtime on the class art project. And they know I will be on my knees apologising to my kids after school in a group hug at home. They offer advice on how to make it easier for my kids to get out the door in the mornings because they have been there and are open to sharing their journey too. They teach their kids compassion not disdain. They uphold my two house rules even on the days when I break them.
Then there are those who are too scared to say anything, but are feeling alone too. The ones who type “parenting sucks” or “managing a kid with SPD” into google and find my blog and send me a thank you email. The ones in the actual school yard who read my blog and bring me flowers, share a coffee telling me that I have made them cry or even just give me a hug and start talking about something else.
The others? Feel free to watch or turn away. Talk amongst yourselves, I am OK with that because while I will hear you, it will not hurt me anymore. I get it. I am not your friend. I am not your enemy either. I am just doing what I do with the deepest love for my family and getting through every single day. Go ahead and cast your judgements if it makes you feel better about your own choices. We see our own fears in what others write. The internet is a window as much as a mirror. I have found that not talking about things increases the false sense of shame surrounding normal issues. If it works for your family to make different choices…if that makes you feel safe, then I respect that for you. I am never going to ask you to change. I trust that you know what is best for your family. And I want you to keep sharing the way you share because you have your tribe who needs to hear it. Just like I have mine. That is the beauty of this medium. We help who we need to help. So just be forewarned when you drive by my glass house, we are a “naked” family.
And remember, we are made of who we love, not of who doesn’t love us back.