I just finished having an argument with my husband. Or rather, I have (mostly) finished loudly talking at my husband and he has quietly slipped out to work during my pause in thought/rant. I will admit I have a bad habit of starting ill-timed conversations.
He was halfway out the door and mid-swallow swig of his usual berry granola (in a princess cup) when I asked, “Why are there some people who seem to always remember life is short? People who embrace every day and don’t sweat the small stuff? And how come they don’t ever seem to watch TV?” (I will also admit to an unusually excessive amount of nighttime boob tube lately in an effort to not become completely socially irrelevant by not having a clue about ‘Breaking Bad.’)
My husband chewed and busied his hands with a broken drawer that has already been determined a lost cause. I think he sensed a trap. I continued. “Do these people know something I don’t know? Why can’t I know it too?” I want to have a continuous feeling of appreciation and understanding of the bigger picture! I get glimpses! I feel moments! But then it gets away from me (mainly because people are annoying). My husband comes over to me as I load the dishwasher and puts his arms around my waist. “Life is complicated. It can’t always be one way. Some days are better than other days. Nobody is always good or bad. You’re too hard on yourself.” And that triggered my squawking.
Now, you may or may not understand why this response annoyed me. On the surface, it looks and feels like a pretty loving response, (or five fortune cookie affirmations), but in the moment, it did nothing to appease me. It actually made me more upset because clearly, I am married to one of those people that gets it. One of those “perspective” type people. And so my husband’s ease in answering me and being all philosophical and such, only heightened my panic and self-doubt. I started sweating and thinking it is quite possible that I am actually an abandoned alien living amongst highly evolved Super Humans. Super Humans who all “get it.” In fairness to myself, I probably need to own up to a couple of things that precipitated my philosophical quandary/crisis. (So, no need to call those men in puffy white suits that terrified me in E.T. Not just yet anyway.)
As of late, my kids have been trying my patience. They have been argumentative and disagreeable, and from my perspective, incredibly under appreciative. I might even dare to say, they’ve bordered on ungrateful. And as of late, my response to this behavior has been to exhibit a high level of frustration, loss of patience and an inability and/or disinterest in navigating any of this with my kids’ perspective in mind. I have been seeing only mine. I’ve also been feeling very sorry for myself. My poor me mantra is as follows, “I am underappreciated, unimportant and no one likes my cooking.” Catchy, no? I’ve been thinking about putting it on a bumper sticker.
I often get the feeling that people think I am a very Zen mama. This is an aspiration of mine – not a current reality. And to be Zen in and of itself is a lot of pressure. To be a Zen mama, well, that’s damn close to godliness. When I tell a story and part of it includes my divulging that I raised my voice at an offspring, people frequently ‘tut-tut’ me and laugh. Then they say, “I can’t picture you yelling. Come’on. You don’t really yell.” I DO YELL!!! I’m not proud of it, but, yes. Yes. I sometimes yell. I do. Ask my kids. Wait. No. Don’t. (I partially blame the Zen misconception of me on my vegetarianism. People place an unreasonable burden on the average vegetarian to be a better kind of person. We don’t eat animals. It doesn’t necessarily make us more self-aware. Although, for shits and giggles’ sake I was going to list a few notorious vegetarian criminals, but alas, according to google, there are none.)
So I am not a perfect mama. Not by a long shot. I try to be a mindful, thoughtful parent. When I’m not, I get sad and mad and frustrated. I’d like to think I have that in common with other moms – Zen and otherwise. We love our kids. We want to do right by them. But parenting, like life, is no straight line. So we try again (take a left). And again (take a right). It’s a lifetime (we desperately hope) of agains and do-overs (U-turn). Our life’s work as parents – the opportunity to visit and re-visit – is just as much a part of the joy of learning as it is the burden of not knowing. Discovery! So as much as I hate to admit it, life is complicated and today was one of those days that was harder than the others. I’m not all good or all bad and I am (probably) too hard on myself. I’m not a Zen mama. Not yet anyhow – and I may never be. But I am a mama and I’m doing the best I can. And to be admittedly flawed and humbled, that has to count for something. Namaste. ish.