Friday, April 28, 2006

Parenting 301:
If it was easy, it wouldn't be love. 

For the first time in forever I actually felt the back go out, could feel the twinge as I twisted and dropped, lifted and tossed.

That I did it throwing my first and precious child, firm but as gentle as possible under the circumstances, into the time-out chair, roaring, still but only barely in control of my self, makes it no better.

That she was red-faced, screaming, already thirty minutes into a full-blown wail-and-cry attack makes it worse.

That what got us to that moment was that she tried to hurt me, but stopped herself at a token, is reassuring, though it doesn’t excuse the attack on my nose or wrists, with head and tinystrong hands and hard-headed dolly.

That she did it to try to get to mama is always and only a sad thing. But what can we do? Somewhere, even she knows that she has turned to keeping Cassia awake, accepted the bad attention as better – for now – than no attention during the younger sister’s bedtime. Keeping her from baby bedtime, that the baby might sleep, and more, that the elderchild might afterwards have the solo mama-and-me time that she so desperately craves and deserves, is an inevitable and vital step forward; that she has forced our hand in getting there by hook or crook is no excuse for letting things get worse, as if they could.

That I didn’t lose control is an ongoing triumph. I no longer fear myself, in these moments – know, indeed, that I will ever be capable of keeping the responses within the scale and scope of measured response. Once I worried that I would lose that conscious brain, revert entirely to lizard brain, in the worst of interfamiliar anger. It is truly awesome, in the original sense, to find that I am not, will not, cannot be that person that I feared I would be unable to not be.

But knowing that I own my temper is no compensation for having to go so far along the path towards big and scary.

And knowing that it has come to this is hard to accept, sometimes.

I do it out of love, and she accepts that, in the aftermath, hugging me goodnight, telling me she loves me. But it hurts, physically and psychologically.

That twinge of pressure will over three days swell and ache until it peaks at monster pain, the kind only those of us with herniation can truly understand.

I guess I had hoped we would be different. Now I know better, I suppose. That twinge of knowledge in her eyes, the one that says I know you are bigger and will use it when you must, is in the end the bittersweet heart of every parent’s constant struggle to love and care for, tame and ultimately set free every willful child.

It’s a mess, this parenting thing. It takes all my energy, drains my emotional core. And it hurts so much more because, in those lucid moments, she understands, somehow, at three and three quarters, that it hurts me, too. It hurts so much more because I, too, am no fan of delayed gratification, and I know exactly how she feels.

In these moments we are each other, the mature three, the once-child (and still secretly childlike) Daddy. We are past and present and future all at once; we are each other, and our selves in every age.

And in some ways, that we can go through this together and come out clutching each other is the scariest and the best thing of all.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:19 PM |

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