Meandering on parenting

You're not supposed to admit that being a parent isn't the bestest, most wonderfulest, awesome, beautiful, gorgeous, fulfilling thing that's ever happened to you. You're not supposed to admit that it's a pain in the ass, that it's tiresome, and tiring, it's horrible some times, that you want to scream, give them away, sell them, put them in mental hospital, or put yourself in mental hospital.

Why is it, that mothers can't admit that it's hard being a parent, I don't know. I know part of it has to do with the obsession in the US with children. Raising children is some how seen as better than anything else you can do, more fulfilling, more perfect, more satisfying, more everything! If you aren't just orgasmic, over-the-moon-happy about it, then you're wrong! There's something terribly wrong with you, and we should call CPS, to make sure you're not abusing your kids. They're supposed to be the centre of your universe! You're supposed to love them more than anyone or anything! More than life itself.

I don't. I don't love my kids more than my husband. I don't love my life less. I love my children dearly. But I am a separate person, and when they leave home I will still be me. I have not lost myself in them, and I won't do it.

Walk into a bookstore and turn in any direction: you'll find parents there, with their little bundles of mess-- I mean joy!-- reading to them, buying books on how to raise the perfect child, the most well-adjusted child, the genius child. You see books that purport to help you get ready, to get pregnant! They walk you through, I don't even know what, to be honest. Maybe a reminder to take folic acid for a couple months before you start trying? I never picked one up, so I'm having a guess. I never could figure out why you needed a book, about what to expect, before you're expecting. Wouldn't that be "same shit, different day"?

Anyway, there are countless books that are supposed to help you while you're pregnant. Telling you about how wonderful it is, how precious, how amazing. That "miracle of childbirth" thing.

It's a load of shit!

Being pregnant is horrible! Even if you have a perfect pregnancy (often called "text-book" for its ease and lack of complications) it can be pretty bad.

If you're lucky, or cursed, you start to feel nauseated before you've even missed your period. Your breasts hurt, like you've been punched in the chest. You get head-achey and so tired. I thought I had the flu. It was pretty bad. Then, I missed my period and thought, oh shit, that's what this is.

I had "morning sickness" from the instant I woke up in the morning, until about 4 in the afternoon. Just about tea time, I was finally not feeling like I needed to vomit profusely. The colour would creep back into my face, and I wasn't greenish any more.

Then, with relief I'd eat something, and feel sick all over again. If I could have thrown up-- and believe me I tried!-- I would have felt much better.

This goes on for three months, or longer. Some times women are sick the entire pregnancy. Some times, if you can make it to 12 weeks, it stops. You never know-- and it changes, too. One pregnancy you might be sick four weeks, and the other one, eight months.

The relief is short lived, however. Because the instant the morning sickness ends, the heartburn starts. I got heartburn from water! Breathing! Milk! You name it, I had heartburn.

Your insides get all moved around, and you feel like you're carrying a bowling ball in your hoodies' front pocket. Your balance goes off, and you waddle. Your skin clears up, or you get the worst acne of your life! You crave the oddest things, like French fries. All you want is fries! Or whatever. I never craved anything weird, though. None of that "pickles and ice cream" thing. I craved soul food with my first pregnancy, lots of fried chicken, mashed, corn, that kind of thing. The second time around, I craved Whoppers, and onions rings, from Burger King. With my youngest, I craved Pizza Hut, extra cheese and mushrooms, deep dish. Luckily for me, I didn't lose my taste for the pizza, or the onion rings. The beef, though, can't do that.

People want to touch you. That one pissed me off. One time, one woman walked up to me in the grocery store. I was pregnant for my oldest, and was shopping with my sister for some sundries. There was a woman who worked at the store, and she did the "oh, you're pregnant, how precious" thing, and went to touch my belly. I told her, "If you touch me, I"ll punch you in your fat face, and scream assault." She snatched her hand back like I was a viper. I smiled sweetly and walked away. My sister was pretty surprised, because I'm not usually forceful about anything.

I don't like to be touched, especially by people I don't know. If I touch you first, that's OK, but fuck, if I don't know you, what gives you the right to invade my space and touch my person like that! Only pregnant woman get manhandled like that, I swear. I never let anyone touch my belly, and I never touched any of my friend's pregnant bellies. I just don't think it's right to do that.

Labour was easy. I labour very easy. I don't write about it today, but one of these days I will discuss them.

Once the kid gets to breathing on their own, though, things don't get better. I went from sharing my physical space with them, to sharing my house with them. It was easier at times before they were born!

Although my kids slept through the night fairly early on, (that'd be about six hours at a stretch, but for the sleep deprived that's a month!) they weren't easy children. They are stubborn, very very stubborn.

But of course, I can't say that. I can't say that my daughter is so fucking stubborn that she'd rather stand in a blizzard naked than come in side if I told her "it's better for your health!" She's the sort of stubborn that doesn't have the sense to come in out of the rain; the kind of stubborn that will do every thing that she's been told not to do, because Dammit, she wants to!

She's also a sociopath.

There, I said it. My kid, my beautiful daughter, is a charming, lying, stealing, sociopath. She's intelligent, articulate, and so pretty! She's also obsessed with being everything to everyone, so she can be popular. She only cares about herself; so much so that I wonder if we seem alive to her, or if we're just props in her world. If she wants it, she takes, it, disregarding the person she's hurting-- because she wanted it. I expect she will come to a bad end, and there's nothing I can do about it.

She's twelve now, so she's still under my authority, yes. That means I have the responsibility to make sure she doesn't hurt herself, or others; follows the rules, does what she's supposed to do, right?

Doesn't mean she will. And I surely can't force her. How do you force someone to do the right thing? Do you scream at them?  Yell? Threaten? Use physical punishment? You can't do that, she's a person!

I do yell some times. I get very frustrated and some times I yell. Usually it's a case of yelling: "Go To Your Room! I can't look at you right now! Everything coming out of your mouth is a lie!" After I've tried reasoning, tried discussing, tried everything.

But, you can't tell anyone that. You can't tell people you don't trust your daughter. You can't tell people you think she'd hurt someone if she knew she could get away with it. She'd tell you, and everyone else, "They did this inane thing to me first!" as if that made her behaviour better. She'd blame it on the person she hurt, because they "made her". She sounds like a DV offender.

Yes, I've had her in therapy, and she charmed her therapist. She learned coping skills, alright! "How to bamboozle people to get what I want", that's what she learned. She learned better how to charm someone in authority over her, how to get what she wants, while appearing to be learning empathy. She learned what we were looking for, and how to better disguise it. She's a smart cookie, so I am slowly losing hope.

There are no books "How not to raise a kid with anti-social personality disorder". There's no class I can take, no therapy I can put her in. Nothing. There's something in her brain, something that's been there since before she was born. Something that just didn't mesh properly, something that isn't right. Something that I did not do, and so I can't undo.

Doesn't mean I don't with I could. I'd love it if I could wave a wand, get her some medication, smack her in the head, something to flip off the switch and make her normal. There's not a damned thing anyone can do.

Now, there are some sociopaths who know they're not right, and want to be, so they actually work to be more humane to the world at large. Most of the ones I've met though, they don't think there's anything wrong with them at all. Far as they see it, they're fine, the world, though, it's out to get them! You can't reason with someone like that.

I don't love being a mother. I don't hate it either. It just is. It's something I do, not something that I am. Does that make any sense? I don't have my identity wrapped up in mother hood, never have, and I never will. I think of myself as Me, first, then "writer, thinker, ponderer, political scientist, amateur historian, gamer". Even wife is pretty far down on the list. I don't say, "Hi, I'm <my Beloved's> wife." I dont' say, "I'm <my kid's> mum" unless I'm calling them off school for being sick, and even them it's usually, "This is Emma, I'm calling my son/daughter off for being sick with whatever it is. They're in Such a Grade and So and So's class. Their name is <kid's name>."

I don't wrap my sense of self in being a mother, and never understood women who do. Your kids are going to grow up, and spend 5/6 of their lives not with you! You are supposed to make sure they're ready to make it on their own, right? Not make sure they're worthless to society. And not fall apart when they move out.

I'm not a helicopter parent, and I don't hover. I expect them to rise and fall on their own merits. I admit, I have high expectations. The rules are simple: don't lie to me; when your parents says something, listen to us and do it; treat people the way you want to be treated; you live at home, so contribute your time and good attitude-- keep the shitty bits to yourself. (the last one merely means pitch in with chores, help each other, that kind of thing. I don't expect me kids to never have a bad day, I do expect them to try not to punish everyone else for them, just like I try not to. It's part of that Golden Rule thing.)

I know my kids can make it in the world, they have it in them to be good, wonderful people. Yes my daughter could be, if she chose to make those changes-- I believe that whole-heartedly. I know my kids can do it, though, with the tools I'm teaching them right now. That doesn't mean I have to love every single second of having them  under my feet. That doesn't mean I have to look forward to the bickering, the rolled eyes, the stupid questions. I don't.

I don't look forward to the fact that by the time my oldest turns 20, my youngest will have just turned 13... I don't look forward to the next six years with my daughter-- girls are so much harder than boys! I don't look forward to the heartbreak, the boy friends, the girl friends, the angry parents calling me when they learn my kids know their way around a condom, and how to prevent STI's. I don't look forward to the calls from the school for the same thing. I don't look forward to the slamming doors, the shouts, the "I hate you!"-- yeah, I get those now.

That doesn't mean that I hate my kids, though. I don't. My oldest son is so smart! He can be annoying, but he's not yet 15; he can also be fascinating! When he starts thinking about something, be it political, religious or technological, he really ponders it. If he doesn't get it, he asks, even if he thinks the question might be stupid. When he wants to know, he really fucking wants to know! Right Fucking Now!

My daughter, she can be very very funny! I wouldn't be surprised if she tried stand-up in college, and if she does, I'll do see it. She can be very kind, too, to animals, and has an unfortunate romantic streak that will get her into trouble later. She's smart as a whip, and has this weirdly innate understanding of the science of meteorology (she sure doesn't get that shit from me!). She wants to me a confectioner, of all things, and I hope she succeeds; I'd love to see the bon bons she designs.

My youngest, is only 8; but I know he's going to be a handful. He gets maths like some people breathe. He hates writing, but likes to read. He's a softy for animals and plants, and talks about Goddess like they're old friends. He dreams of being a teacher-- for now, because he "wants to help people"d.

I have really good kids! Trouble or not, I do like them, generally, and find joy in life, with them-- not from them.

They just aren't my centre. They aren't my reason for living. They're companions on my life's journey right now. But some day, they'll go their way, and I'll keep going mine. It is an exciting thought, know they'll head out on their own journey, and I can't say that I know where they'll go. But, I don't mind admitting that I'll watch them with all my hopes for them.

Of course, that makes me a terrible mother. It makes me a failure of motherhood.
I'd like to say, "Fuck you!" to that idea. Instead, I encourage women not to lose themselves when they have kids. You're more than a walking uterus, you're a person, whole in yourself, and your kids are lucky to have a mother who loves herself, too.


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