Thank you to everyone who has chimed in from near and far with words of wisdom and encouragement. As always, I am amazed by the strength of my community and the support that you all provide.
It’s been a couple of days now and the dust has settled enough that I can see and feel a bit clearer. So, a few thoughts on my emotional outburst and what I’ve learned from you and from myself:
- As parents we too often lose sight of ourselves when we put our children first. Sometimes it’s just the little things, such as giving them the last cookie. Other times, it’s something bigger, like putting mom-duties before woman-duties. To balance the two is difficult and not always possible. But we must try because being true to our WHOLE selves is a great lesson to impart.
- We don’t just lose sight of our personal selves, some times we lose sight of our partners too. Amidst the jumble of breakfast, lunch, soccer games and homework, we see the due dates and not the harried partner or unmet needs. I will do better.
- Parenting doesn’t start the day the kid is born or even when they are in utero. For some of us, it starts with reflections about our own parents and how we will strive to be just as strong, or perhaps even better. Growing up with a single mother, way before I was married or pregnant, I placed a lot of expectation on myself to be the mom I always wanted/needed. Along the way, I kept moving the goal posts and stressing myself out by focusing on all the ways I needed to be better. Less obviously, I didn’t realize how not having a father has made me overlook my partner’s contributions–it all seems like gravy to the girl whose father didn’t contribute much.
- Middle schoolers are just difficult. That’s all.
- What a ridiculously privileged life I lead to have the luxury of these concerns while so many families struggle with more basic needs. I am a bit embarrassed by my frustrations and will do better.
Our family went to see Hidden Figures today. The film was wonderful, the family experience not so much.
As parents, we all struggle to do the best that we can. I really do believe that we all try. But what happens when you have to drag your 11 year old son to see a movie about women’s empowerment and he not only doesn’t appreciate it but he continues to act as if his soul is being sucked out of him?
I have failed as a parent, as a mother. I have failed. I write these words with tears in my eyes. All this time, I thought having an “enlightened” mother would be enough. All along, I thought that he has seen and appreciated the hard work and sacrifice that his mother has made. I thought that leading by example would be enough. I am wrong.
My son scowled his way into the theater, through the movie and on the way out. As an added act of defiance, he refused to wear a coat in 30 degree weather.
My god it hurts. More than I would want to admit and more than I let him know. He doesn’t realize how much his condescension and snarky put-downs about the movie hurt me, his mother. He thinks that he is being rebellious, refusing to be a subject in his mother’s grand scheme. He thinks that by putting down the movie that he is exerting his independence from me.
He doesn’t realize that his remarks, his snide comments, cut his mother, and perhaps, more importantly, his sister. He doesn’t realize that to be a good parent, to not scream at his insensitivity, his mother is swallowing a part of herself. I am not a martyr, but I am a pragmatist. I know that to preach to him right now will only make him less willing to hear the more important message. I know that if I harp on his negative attitude too much he won’t hear my long-game message about being a good, caring man. I know that playing the long game is harder than the short one. I know that being his mother has often meant putting myself second or even third. What I don’t know is how to do it any differently, any better.
And what of the little sister? How am I to navigate that fine line between the sister and the brother? How do I call out his insensitivity in a way that not only makes him see it, but also makes her stronger? How can the sister not notice the disrespect that he has shown towards a movie about women? Do I call him out on it for her sake? Or do I approach it quietly for his? Do I put her strength before the hope of his awareness? He won’t hear me now, but she is always listening. My silence could be defining for her. But his enlightenment could change so much.
My head and heart both hurt.