Friday, June 25, 2010

Searching for Grace

Sometimes, the words don't come. Sometimes, they seem too heavy to write or speak. They ruminate and congest. They parade and stomp, elephant-like in my mind. Like lead ingots. So heavy. But then, I realize those unspoken words weigh much more than those that are set free.

So the words finally came. They stumbled out awkwardly, falling sporadically. Despite their rough-edged rigidness, I welcomed them during their sporadic, capricious arrival.

The last weeks, I've been low. Yelling at my children. Not enjoying, but enduring. Tense, terse and rigid. The whining, the sass, the crying, the constant needs, the kids fighting--all pummeling through me and throwing me over a jagged, steep cliff. Every minute of every moment filled with demands and unease, camouflaging any remaining simple joys. I precariously balanced there, my needs teetering with those of my children. I felt as if I successfully failed all, my only resounding certainty was my uncertainty.

One rough morning this week, Abby screamed in Henry's face. Appalled by her behavior, I screamed in her face (under the guise of showing her how not to treat her brother, fooling no one.) She (understandably) broke down and bawled. I resisted comforting her because I self-righteously and resolutely sat in my anger: "She should know better than to yell at her brother like that."

Then, my tears began their cathartic descent, achingly releasing the bottled weeks of angst. Yes, my children's recent behavior was maddening. BUT that did not give me permission to relinquish my usual deep-breathing, patient ways. Abby yelling at her brother in disgust? Well, not surprisingly, my sweet daughter mimicked me, yelling at her brother as I, lately, have yelled at yer. I never used to yell before. Now I'm yelling frequently. Daily. Hourly. And just seven hours into summer break, I already ached for fall and school.

My life consists of a continual series of seismic waves, up, down, falling, climbing. Sometimes the falls loom steeply. My recent residence in the dredges of the bottom curve leave me traversing between anger and frustration. And, despite my awareness of the necessity of the lows, I've been so mean to myself. Judging. Frustrated. My true thoughts ricocheting against my shoulds, a battle of wills ensuing. The gnawing, unfair supposition that I should be feeling something other than what I did wasted me. I hated that I allowed my children to annoy me. Harshly judging my reality and emotions, I left little room for the essence of my feelings to take hold and lead to a brighter spot. I wished that I could extend myself the same kindness, compassion and patience I freely and easily dole out to the others I love in my life.

And now, with tears streaming as I remember that morning and the malaise of the last several weeks, I grasp tightly to the power of the low, promising a forthcoming brightness. My shoulds and agonies parted and the words flowed, comforting like a linguistic salve. With a renewed peacefulness in my soul, compassion, joy and understanding returned for my children. And, gratefully, and maybe most importantly, they returned for me, too.


addicted2shius said...

You are an amazing writer! Geez you put my posts to shame. But I digress, I too have been in your shoes many a times. My MIL gave me some great advice. Sometimes rather than trying to correct the behavior or diffuse the situation, get out. Get yourself and the kids out of that mundane situation and try to bring light again. Then when everything has felt "back to a happy normal" address the issue. It will probably be more receptive now. And no one will be emotionally attached and easily angered. I don't recommend it every time, but sometimes we all just need a break. Them too.

IASoupMama said...

Sometimes I envy my children for their ability to live completely int he emotion of the moment, swept away by joy or despair, fully silencing the inner critic to just BE. Why, oh, why can't I do that? Probably because lapsing into the despair is far too scary and giving in to the joy too precarious -- I'm always waiting for the conductor to drop the baton on the moment instead of getting lost in the music.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Hi Denise - I can relate so deeply to what you say here about not extending yourself the same grace that you extend to others. I do the same thing, exacerbating any low point and make it that much harder to climb out. I wonder sometimes: is it a mother thing? a woman thing? From where do we get the expectation that we should be perfect when what we teach our kids is that they should try their best?

Beautifully written, as always!

Aging Mommy said...

Beautifully written Denise. It is so very hard when you find yourself in a downward spiral to summon the effort and energy required to climb back out and sometimes it takes a blow out such as you experienced to as it were draw a line in the sand and make you see that it is time to turn around. Being a mother is hard, finding the patience required each and every day requires tremendous effort.

Lindsey said...

Yes, yes, yes.
Hopefully my words will come back soon too! :) xo

Law Momma said...

I'm so glad you are reaching a turn around. It's so so hard to do.

Heather of the EO said...

Yes. Yes. Oh, and yes. I've been there so many freaking times it's ridiculous.

Since you're new-ish to blogging, dare I say that this social media thing may be involved? Not entirely in a bad way, I don't mean that you're being selfish with your time-because I'm not spying on you. I just know that for me, I feel so torn all the time. Finding balance is hard. Once you discover the joy of this platform and the community involved in blogging, it pulls you. More more more, you know?

And it's a GOOD thing, but it's really really hard to find the balance, to not feel guilty, and to stop yourself from getting frustrated with the kiddos for interrupting your writing thoughts and time.

Just a thought, I don't even really know what I'm saying. I guess I've just noticed that when I'm different toward my kids and then hard on myself about it, a lot of the time it has to do with all that stuff I just rambled about. could totally just be me.


Anonymous said...

I understand, my friend, I understand. I too am my own worst critic and it makes the judgement so much more harsh. But like you, if I let it flow, most often in the form of tears, I can feel them cleanse my soul and bathe me in forgiveness and understanding. I'm sorry you've been struggling, there are so few words I can offer beyond, take care, and try to love yourself. Hugs!

Justine said...

Denise, I feel your pang, frustration, regret and longing to be “a good mom” – whatever that may mean to us - through your words. I feel them too, although I could not have put them together quite as beautifully as you have. It’s funny how our children are the best indicators of how we are behaving ourselves as they (unwittingly? subconsciously?) mimic us. When we’re at our best, it’s wonderful to see the joy surface in our children, but at our worst, we see a perpetuation of our frailties, sometimes even coming back at us in full swing.

I hope you will have a peaceful week ahead. And that you will be kinder, gentler with yourself. I know – easier said than done. I am the same way as you, always my own worst critic, but at the very core of all our selves is a flawed human being who is really trying. That person deserves a break, and even some credit. If not for succeeding, at least for trying. I hope I will remember this myself when I need it.

anymommy said...

What a careful, poignant description of such a common experience. I have lain in my bed, next to my husband, but unable to talk to him about it, stewing in my grief and guilt and exhausted defeatedness about my day with my children, my failures, my quickness to anger and my slowness to smile.

They are such forgiving creatures. They always, always let me try again tomorrow.