Saturday, July 05, 2008

Dear Erik,

The story of yesterday...

Tomorrow is your 9th birthday, and yesterday we had a big fight. I smacked you. Not because you did anything particular "bad", all you were doing was being an 8 year old who had had a really big exciting day out (during which time, you'd been responsible and helpful, btw, and it was good to be out with you)... After we got home, you were still so excited and hyped up, and confines of our little house just weren't big enough for you energy.

Your brothers were also tired and hyped up, and together the three of you mucked around and did all the stuff I'm constantly on your cases about. At one point you chucked a rubber ball across the living room and hit some crockery on the kitchen bench. Nothing fell down, nothing broke, but just the sound of the crockery clinking into each other made my blood boil.

I sent you to your room, and as always, you argued the point. You didn't want to go in there, it's boring, it's cold. I told you I needed a little time to calm down, that I was getting angry, and you needed to also calm down. You didn't want to go. I yelled at you to go to your room, you argued, I yelled some more, you argue, I got out of my chair, and you went into your room. Two minutes later you came out wanting to go to the toilet. I said you could go, but then straight back to your room. You went, you left all the doors open, letting the cold in from the back yard, you didn't flush, leaving an unpleasant surprise for me when I went in straight after you...

5 minutes later, you tried to sneak out of your room. I sent you back in there, telling you not to come out until I called you out. You argued the point - as 8 year olds do - my anger rose, I yelled, and you went back into your room.

5 minutes later, I'd calmed down and called you out. 10 minutes after that, you had an argument with Bryn over who was taking up most the fire place. I told you both to get away from the fire. Luey said you weren't moving, and you hit him, he hit you back, and I sent both of you to your room. Luey went in there, but you argued the point. You pleaded that if you apologised to Luey could you come out. I said no, I said Dad would be home soon, and you could both stay there till he got home, I had had enough, I didn't want to see or deal with either of you. You argued. My anger rose, and I snapped. I hit you.

I knew it was wrong, but I didn't apologise. I yelled at you because I'd taken you out that day, and I'd organised play dates this week, and I was organising your birthday party for tomorrow, and organising Dad to get your presents, and I was angry that none of this made any difference to you. You didn't care. You only cared about what you could get out of every situation and what I could do for you. Never what you could do for me. I was so angry, so resentful, or bitter. I stormed out of your bedroom, and started to run a bath for myself. I called Luey out of the bedroom to watch Bryn while I hopped in the bath to try and calm down. I was angry and tired and my body hurt from walking around all day - I resented you for my body hurting and you not caring...

That was the story of yesterday, but this is what I want to say today...

I'm sorry. I was wrong.

I've been thinking about it, and I honestly, truly believe children choose their parents for the experiences they need to grow and develop their spirit in each lifetime.

I just don't understand why you would choose me to be your mum. You so desperately need someone with more wisdom and patience than I have. I seem to fail you so often. I'm far to harsh on you. I know you have very particular needs, I can see them and I try to meet them, but I'm not at all good at it. You need a warm mother who is affectionate and softly spoken, you instead you have a mum who doesn't really like to be touched and yells a lot, and hits when she is frustrated. You have a mum who feels sorry for herself and lashes out.

I'm not fair to you. I'm far harder on you than I am on Luey or Bryn. My expectations of them are not nearly as high as they are of, and that just isn't fair. Yes, I get annoyed with them, and angry with them - Luey is a very stubborn person at times - but I'm never as harsh with them as I am with you. I wish I knew why. I wish I could just be a better mum.

I thought last night, in the bath, that if I was just their mum, I'd be a good mum, a reasonably good mum, not a perfect mum, but I'd be ok with my ability to parent them. You are the one who highlights my shortcomings, and I resent that.

I love you though. I love you so much it breaks my heart because I'm not the mum you need. I want to be that person, and over the last nine years I've tried to be that person, but I really only managed it for the first year and bit of your life. For that year and a bit, I did a really good job, but it was only really because you were an easy child and you needed so much less from me then. As soon as you needed me to step it up a level, the cracks started to appear.

ARGH! I'm sorry, this sounds like justifying and self-pity. I don't mean to sound that way. I just don't understand why you would have wanted me to by your mum... Maybe you actually wanted dad to be your dad, and I was the compromise? I don't know.

Maybe you chose me to teach me, it feels like that most of the time. That I am learning more from you than anything I actually have to offer you. That doesn't seem fair. I'm the adult, you shuoldn't have to parent me. I need to be a much better student so you can be a child, not a teacher...


Jayne said...

Oh no that has me all teary! That was really beautiful Sif :) So heartful. if only ALL parents had your level of self awareness! I also believe our children choose us, and I disagree that you are not the right mother for Erik-I think he needs someone strong willed, and determined, as he has life lessons to learn, as well as to teach you :) I understand your feelings though; it is so easy to self flagellate as mothers! I have been chastising myself and beating myself up all week for not being an "attentive" enough mother-I do a lot of stuff with the kids yes, but at night especially during the holidays as we haven't had to get up early, I've been letting them do their own thing, go to bed whenever they want etc, because it's easier for me-when I should have been engaging in meaningful activities like reading to them, helping Liam create Lego, and drawing and painting with Sienna. Yet I'd rather be reading a book, or surfing the net, especially when tired :( I have such easy going kids who actually LET me do this too-surely that's wrong? After they are asleep, sometimes I feel so sad and just kiss them and tell them how much I love them, despite my own shortcomings.

Arrghh it's all so hard isnt it, this parenting gig? Liam was also very hyped up after yesterday and I palmed him off to his dad to take out instead of ME having to deal with it LOL! Was a lovely day though :)

Sif Dal said...

It was a lovely day, and the boys had a great time, and despite Luey taking off those two time, so did I... They were great going home on the tram - which was an emotionally upsetting trip in itself, as I had to stand up for this tottering old lady who had a walking frame and who had tried to get another elderly lady to move over so this lady to sit down, and the other lady REFUSED, just because she didn't want to sit in a window seat - what is wrong with people??? - Anyway, but then I spoilt the day by going off my head at Erik and hitting him, and as you know, not for the first time these holidays.

Every time I do this I swear it'll never happen again, that I'll be mindful on not letting myself get that angry, and then I let it go too far, and I give myself permission to hurt him just because he's frustrating me or has insulted my sense of justice or something equally childish.

I could make so many excuses for myself, and I do too for a while, and then I try to see it from his point of view and I feel like crap.

I realise this is pretty normal for a lot of parents, most parents? I just don't want to be this kind of parent to Erik, and somehow I manage not to be this parent to Luey and Bryn, and it seems so wrong that I can't extend that to Erik. Seriously, what is wrong with me???

I'm really worried about the legacy I'm going to leave him with. What sort of parent is he going to be if I can't control my temper better? I don't want him to become a bully to his own children...

Anyway, have to work on a lot of things, I guess... It's a process.

Rachael said...

**hugs** couldn't read and run. I agree that just being aware of this stuff is half the battle, and honestly I'm sure you *are* the best parent for Erik - you just haven't realised that yet.

Our kids are very resilient and even when we're not perfect they will learn and love and accept us because we are human. Can you say those things to him that you've written here? That sort of authenticity has to have value too I think.

Mr B said...

Oh ((hugs))

Good Job!