Monday, July 10, 2006

Lest I Revel in my Stellar Ape Management Skillz...

Lemme just say that at the time I wrote the previous post, it had completely slipped my mind that we had agreed to attend an outdoor concert with the Inlaws. I'll just summarize the evening, cuz I don't even really want to talk about it at all.

The boys were running around the field where the concert was being held. They found a sandpit used for bonfires and thought that would be a perfect place to play. I was fine with it until they found sticks and began using them as Light Sabers.

"No sticks, guys!" I said.

"Why can't they have sticks, Sarah? What's wrong with sticks??" said FIL.

Does this man not remember having children at all?

"I'm concerned that they'll start hitting each other with them," I answered. "I've seen it happen too many times." DUH.

Moments later, Jam Mastah T came over to the blanket we were sitting on and sat down. The bottoms of his feet were filthy.

"Jeez, Sarah, don't you ever wash your kids??" YES. HE SAID THAT.

"Well, I usually just wait for it to rain, and then I tell the kids to go play outside with a bar of soap. So I guess the last time it rained was, what, Tuesday?"

YES. I SAID THAT. OUT LOUD. I'm actually rather surprised I didn't say Fuck Off instead, because that's certainly what I was thinking.

As I turned away from FIL, I turned to look at where the kids were playing, and just as I did, I saw Beeb push Pie from behind - with a flat hand in the center of his back (this was clearly no accident) - with enough force to knock him forward, face-down on the ground. He screamed. R got up to see if he was all right.

I don't think FIL saw what had happened, but here's what he said:

"Wow, Sarah... what are you going to do when Beeb's gone for a whole week?"

Ok. That's what he SAID. And I heard him. But what my brain actually processed was:

"Wow, Sarah... what are you going to do?"

I walked over and grabbed Beeb by the wrist and asked her why she pushed her brother. She denied it. I SAW YOU DO IT. She continued to deny it. Vehemently. Tearfully. Loudly.






Suddenly, her story changed from "I didn't do anything" to "All I did was move my elbow" and later to "I might have accidentally bumped him".

"Beeb, I SAW YOU PUSH HIM! Why are you trying to tell me you didn't do it??"

"Because I didn't push him!!! You never believe me!!!"

This was quickly becoming a very ugly scene.

And then, I whipped out my famous, soon-to-be-trademarked phrase,


Briefly, the scene got uglier as I angrily grabbed everything I could grab and gave R a look that he correctly interpreted as "Get the kids and let's get out of here NOW."

Beeb, still crying, went over to hug MIL, and FIL had the fucking bawlz to say:

"What, don't you like the concert?"

"Yes, I liked it very much. It's a shame we have to leave. Come on, kids..."

Kids are crying. I am seething. Ry's even trying to convince me that Beeb didn't push him, he just fell by accident. Nice try, ape. I SAW IT!

We get to the car, and I just started sobbing.

R gave me a hug and said, "Are you okay?"

I told him I knew I was over-reacting. I acknowledged that what I did was probably not the right thing to do, but I honestly didn't know what I was supposed to do. I heard what FIL said, I just felt like I was being called out. Beeb was lying to my face and although I knew she was lying, she still managed to make me feel shitty for not believing her. Maybe it was because I felt like everyone was staring at this scene trying to figure out what was going on and I was clearly coming across as Evil Mom who Doesn't Believe Her Adorable Child.

I recapped FIL's snarky remarks for R, in case somehow he'd missed them, and R said that, since I dish it right back, FIL obviously thinks that I can handle it. I can understand why he'd think that. I guess I'm supposed to take it as a compliment that he feels like he can make moronic comments that make me feel like shit, since I normally wait until I'm home before I cry about it. And then of course I internalize it for later use. It's the gift that keeps on giving. Lucky me.

What FIL apparently doesn't get is that my kids are my job. And when they act like idiots, I can't help feeling like it's because I'm not a good enough mom. I feel like that all the time, without anyone's help. And of course I know that they're going to act like idiots because they're normal kids, and of course I know that I do the best I can and that's all any of us can do. And I know that his parenting standards are ridiculous and impossible, so I shouldn't even try to meet them. But when I feel like you're making a comment about my kids, you're also saying something about ME.

If you have a job, and you work your ass off at it from the time you get up in the morning to the time you eventually fall asleep at night (not to mention being on call through the night), and somebody tells you that you suck at it, it's hard not to take it personally. It's not just your job, it's the focus of your life. It's like somebody telling you your life is worthless because no matter how hard you work at your job - never taking a sick day or a vacation day, never asking for a raise - you're not getting the end results you were hoping for. So you suck.

We'd fire you if we could, but since you volunteered for this gig, you get to stay. Sucks to be you.

That's how I feel. And I was just overwhelmed by it at that moment.

I really didn't want to leave. We drove a freakin hour to get there. I know the kids didn't want to leave, and the Inlaws didn't want us to leave. R said that as we were leaving, FIL told him that our leaving punishes everyone and that isn't really fair. Again, yeah, I agree it was a bad idea, but what was I supposed to do? Anything I would have done, FIL would have found fault with. I knew it, R knew it. It was a catch-22.

R was extremely sweet and supportive. I love him. He understands me, even when I don't make any sense.

After I calmed down, R took the boys back to the concert and tried to smooth things over with the Inlaws. I was too embarrassed to go back. I stayed in the car and talked to Beeb. I explained that I wasn't crying because I was mad at her, although I was mad at her. She continued to insist that she didn't push her brother. I gave her the opportunity to confess without punishment. She still denied it. Did I mention that I SAW her do it?? It totally reminded me of that Eddie Murphy bit with "Wuzzn't me..."

I'm gonna go to the grave saying I KNOW SHE PUSHED HIM. Yippee, I've figured out what I'm going to say to her on my deathbed! And I'm gonna say it just like Michael Corleone.
I know it was you, Beebie. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!!

Beeb and I did a little talking about FIL. I didn't give a whole lot of information because I don't want her to hate him, but I did want her to understand our strained relationship. I just kinda gave an overview of what it was like for R growing up in his family and never feeling like you were good enough for FIL, and how different it was from growing up in my family, where my parents were always encouraging and made you feel like you could do anything. I think I successfully illustrated what a difficult adjustment it's been for me to assimilate into a family so different from mine. She gets it.

We went back, enjoyed the rest of the Cornet Chop Suey concert, and at the end of the evening, I apologized for getting so upset. I'm proud of myself for doing that, and I felt much better after I did. I explained that I'd had a really hard week and that I always feel like I'm not a very good mom. R said that he and FIL had talked a little bit when I wasn't there, and that I had gotten a circuitous apology from FIL, which was nice, I guess.

Really, my actions weren't influenced so much by what he'd said that night as by the buildup of stress throughout the week intensified by the baseline drama I expect and set myself up for every time we go out there. I was more mad at Beeb for insisting I was mistaken, and I felt like I had to lay the smack down so that I could be the parent that FIL wants me to be.

Stupid, I know. I know.

For the record, I'm still pissed at Beeb for not just ADMITTING she pushed Pie. I don't want her to learn that if she just sticks to her story for long enough, eventually I'll let it go. No. You can't LIE to me. You can't. Seriously, nothing pisses me off more than someone lying to my face.

She leaves in two days.


Jennifer said...

I've overreacted while parenting as well. It happens. Try to give yourself a break about it. Every day is a new day with kids, and you'll do better sometimes, and have bad days sometimes.

As for Beeb, she might be saying that she didn't because with all the commotion that happened after the fact, plus the calling out in public might have shocked her into some revisionist history in her own mind. She might think that if she denies it enough, it'll make it true.

Skye said...

I totally hear you. This blog entry could have been about me, my kids, and my life. I find that happens quite often, which is why I have your blog bookmarked after just happening across it. Plus, your commentaries in here are often hilarious! I don't really knit though... sorry. My grandmother used to knit all the time; does that count?

Poops said...

Are you kidding? You are so far from being the worst mom ever! You don't take crap just to make everything okay and that makes you a good mom. Stick to your guns. Someday the apes will thank you for it. At least that's what I tell myself when my kids have driven me to "the brink of insanity."

Though why you haven't told your FIL to go fuck himself yet is beyond me. He so clearly deserves it.

I am anxiously awaiting that post.

Ali said...

Man, I fell for Mothers. i don't know how y'all do it.

The Eddie Murphy

"But I saw your car in the driveway"....

"wasn't me"

The Fluffy Ewe said...

Oh I can so relate how you feel that motherhood is your job. I think that alot of people do not realise how hard it is to be a mom, let alone a stay at home mom. DH doesn't get that I need a vacation all by my fricken self. I also struggle with me being a SAHM and not having an immaculate house by the end of the day and I only have one kid (at the moment).

I can understand your not telling FIL to fark himself. Sometimes I feel that way about my IL's but I don't want to strain DH's relationship with his parents.

All of us have been known to blow up over small shit, too. Don't beat yourself up over it. You did what you thought was right at the moment and that's all that matters.

I think we mothers are more critical of our kids than others are (snarky comments from your FIL don't help though, but he's an ass and can't help himself) and they probably seem normal to most bystanders.

Hugs to ya, hon!!

Dan said...

Frustrating as all heck. It is even worse when you are the eevviill step parent. If they do something wrong it is you the outsider thatis the bad influence. The one thing so frustrating about the blatant lie, is everyone else just acts like you should drop it and move on, but that shows the child nothing. However the harder you try to make your point it always gets turned back to you looking foolish for trying so hard to get them to just tell the truth. It is a double edge sword that sometimes you just want to fall on it.

Elspeth said...

Bravo! What an amazing description of the life of a SAHM. My DH is pretty good at understanding the stress I have, and after almost 3 weeks of visiting my parents they have a bit of an idea of what I go through (I think).

How often do you get the "I don't know how you do it?" comment? I finally got it from my dad yesterday, and have been getting it from my inlaws for awhile. It doesn't make me feel any better, although maybe they think it does.

I hope someday Beeb Googles this day on whatever cell phone she's using to get connected to other people in the future and apologizes. You deserve it.