Saturday, April 15, 2006

I don't know how you guys walk around with those freaky dangly things anyway.

My 4-year-old, Ryan (a.k.a. Little Al), got scolded 5 times yesterday for walking around with his hand in his drawers. I'm insisting that R have a talk with him and just explain that it's not good manners to walk around with one's hand in one's pants. Everytime I try to talk to him about it, he says "But I like touching it!" And I just giggle. Wieners are weird.

(Note: It's equally unacceptable for one to walk around with one's hand in someone else's pants. That hasn't been a problem for Ry yet, but I just thought it bore mentioning.)

I'm really hoping he doesn't pull an AL tomorrow at the In-Laws. Usually I start stressing about going there approximately 24 hours in advance, so I'm right on schedule. I don't even know where to start to tell the story of my FIL. For years, he had not one kind word to say to me or about me. In fact, the very first thing he said to R after meeting me for the first time was "Looks like she's already got her hooks into ya." I kinda wish R hadn't told me that, because at the time I didn't feel that I'd done anything to warrant his displeasure, and I couldn't believe he'd say something like that.

I'm a nice girl. I was polite and respectful, and I even told R's mom that she should be proud of the perfect gentleman she raised. But looking back, that shitty comment really kinda set the tone for the whole nature of my relationship with Him. And then of course, six months later I was pregnant. His belief, for years, was that I had gotten pregnant "on purpose" so as to snag myself a man... well, little did He know that when I met R, His son was $20K+ in debt, so he really was NOT such a prize, in the financial stability sense. (He knows about the debt now.)

So, basically, it's been a very long road but I think He finally realizes that I'm here to stay. Still, every single visit out there is a crapshoot. If He's having a bad day, watch out. I've learned the art of "nod and smile and pretend you're paying attention to whatever bullshit story He's telling". I think it was Thanksgiving this year that Teeny T was running around instead of eating The Dinner, and He made a snide comment about T's behavior, everyone froze and He said "Did I misspeak?" Grrrr. So I silently ate really quick and took T outside to run around, so he wouldn't bother anyone. See, the thing is, He was never a hands-on kind of dad, so He doesn't really realize that sometimes, when little boys are 3, they act like idiots and even a mom who's around them all day, every day, can't control them. That's just how it IS. He doesn't get it. I should forgive Him, but it's difficult when I feel that my parenting skills are critiqued constantly.

This is why I'm so hard on myself.

I read all the parenting books I can get my hands on, and yet, I always feel like everything I do as a parent is wrong. I mean, literally, always. I grew up with parents who applauded everything I did. And that's not wrong, I'm not saying it is. But now, as an adult, whenever I don't get something right on the first try, I get frustrated and I feel like an idiot. And if nobody tells me I did a good job, I don't feel like I did a good job. I'm an external-affirmation whore, which is NO way to go through life, so I'm extremely cautious not to pass this quality on to my kids.

The only feedback I get from Him is negative. So of course, being in His presence, well, I hate it. R, on the other hand, grew up in His house where he was made to feel as though he could never get anything right, and to this day has major self-esteem issues. My goal is to be somewhere inbetween the Over-Heaping of Praise and the Complete Witholding of Praise, and it's a constant struggle that wears me out.

I don't know if I was ever really meant to even be a parent. Sometimes I wonder if there aren't other more capable people out there somewhere who are really the ones supposed to be raising these kids. I just got them by mistake somehow and I should just hand them over and go back to sleep. I was never one of the people who try really hard for years to have kids. I think I would probabaly appreciate my kids in a different way if that were the case, but as it was, I was surprised and emotionally debiliated by each of my pregnancies. Beebie was Unwed Mother Drama, Pie was This Baby Might Not Live Drama, and Tito was Oh Shit - Irish Twin Drama.

Each time, it was hard to get excited about being pregnant, like most other moms would be. I tried to bond by nursing but gave up after several months (didn't nurse my kids for a full year, like you're supposed to) because I HATED nursing. I hated everything about it, and I took a LOT of shit for giving it up. Am I a lazy parent? Probably. Do I love my kids less than a mom who nurses? Absolutely not. Give birth twice in 10 1/2 months and my guess is that you'd be pretty exhausted too. I don't think I'm being unreasonably selfish, given the circumstances.

I should also point out that my feelings of inadequacy are not limited to my parental skills. I generally feel like everything I do in my life is crap. I am really tough on myself when I make a mistake. I know I drive myself crazy, but the phrase "lighten up" just doesn't compute.

Oh, I wish I hadn't started on this topic, now I'm just gonna make myself sick...


Jennifer said...


You are a good mother. Parenting is a hard job and it's hardly ever celebrated. It's not like a job where you get annual reviews and strokes for a job well done. I sometimes get wrapped up in the "am I a good mother, and am I doing everything right." When all is said and done, what's important is that we love our children, and we are good enough.

Bezzie said...

We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. I've got the opposite fears--like I'm too hard on my Chunky. Bottom line I think we're screwed no matter what. There's no way to parent and raise a completely normal child. There's always gonna be something wrong with 'em that could allegedly be traced to the way they were raised. So we might as well do the best that we can. And I wouldn't let the in laws bug ya too much (ha ha, easier said than done I know) from what you say, they aren't exactly parents of the year themselves.

Oh, and I didn't "nurse" for a full year either...holy lord, I'll have to share that story later. Ha ha!!!

Dramaqueen said...

Thanks for the comment in my blog! You should try knitting the Alien Illusion Scarf, it's really fun!

Mom (a.k.a. Mary Ann) said...

Having met your FIL on 2 occasions, and being impressed with his singular lack of interest in or kindness to others, I am impressed with your perserverance in the face of such a relationship. You obviously do it out of love for your husband and children. That love of family is the most important thing, not parenting style.

Dan said...

I don't think a bad parent would make the effort to compare two styles of raising kids and then struggle to find a happy medium.

Hope all went well with FIL.

Bob said...

One can tell from the sincere and genuine love of life you exude on your blog that you are a fantastic parent! Do not fret, and do not pay attention to said FIL. Smiling and nodding, as you mentioned, are your best allies.

I sometimes experience the same feelings/thoughts/fears about being a parent. Am I cut out for it? But my kids are great and I know I have much to offer, share, and teach them, even if I may not make all the right choices.

I believe you to be a wonderful parent. Keep on smiling!