Sunday, July 25, 2010

Solitary Confinement

This week I am working diligently on a query for an agent possibly interested in a book about motherhood. And so, it seems to be a great week to bring out an oldy but a goody. This post resonated with so many moms, and I got bombarded with comments both private and public. Ultimately, in a society of mothers, our problems that take place in our families are ours alone. This is a small slice of what takes place in my house and leaves me feeling helpless. Please read and feel free to comment. Have you ever felt a solitary figure in a sea of mothers and advice? I am with you. Read on!  

Lately, I am a lonely mother.  I know--even in a world with millions of moms and mom-blogs and mom-circles and mom magazines, even though my closest confidants are parents: I am a solitary figure with solitary problems living in a deep dark solitary vacuum.  What about those social networks you ask?  Well, amongst 143 friends on my Facebook page only 20 of them aren't parents.  (Mostly my former students, others who have made conscious choices NOT to be moms and dads, and one priest.)  I suppose I could turn to the remaining 123 friends for parenting companionship and mutual begrudging, but somehow it feels fruitless. 

It's a funk I'm in, and I'm not talking about James Brown and George Clinton.  I am talking about one heck of a "woe-is-me-black-cloud-over-my-head" funkadelic funk.  I just get tired sometimes.  I mean, this mother is endless.  I once read that women during the Salem Witch Trials would be subjected to something called "pressing" where rocks would be piled on the "witch's" chest one after the other until they confessed out of sheer panic of being crushed under their weight.  I think my funk is due to a sort of emotional "pressing" where issue after issue has piled up crushing my mind.  Trying to figure out solutions to all the problems that plague my children in various ways is exhausting.  How to help one son find confidence and work to his potential, how to squelch one son's seemingly endless conceit, how to keep a son with stitches in tip top shape so he is able to keep up with the varsity cross country team that he has been asked to join, how to not throw one son over the South Glens Falls Bridge the next time he sasses...which will probably happen before I finish this next sentence... not to mention the constant refereeing that takes place every time the boys are in the same room together.

I know that every family has its own set of "stuff."  I know I am not alone in that.  But is there anyone else out there that just feels beaten every once in awhile from the never ending bag of do-do that seems to be thrown at us mothers constantly and consistently?  Take last night for instance...

Aidan was at a party.  His curfew is 11:30.  But as 11:30 came and went, he didn't show.  I texted him three times only for him to ignore them.  I called his phone and the phone of the boy with whom he was supposed to get a ride, all to no avail.  So at five after midnight, Aidan's step-father went to the house to get him.  Ten minutes later as they arrived back at the house...all holy hell broke loose.  Let me remind you it was 12:15 AM.  But no matter.  Aidan comes in to the house blustering about how unfair we are and how embarrassed he was.  This blustering is done with Aidan's full voice which of course leads to his little brother waking up and coming out to see what all the fuss is.  Once he realizes that his brother is in trouble, he begins to gloat openly.  Saying things like, "Mom you won't be able to trust him anymore!"  (Parroting a discussion that I had had earlier with Gannan who is the "great exaggerator.")  He continues, "That is it! Right mom?  No more parties for Aidan.  That is what you'd do to me."

Aidan then becomes indignant and much louder at his brother's goading.  I now have to deal with the curfew issue and the fighting issue.  I send Gannan back to his room, where he waltzes down the hall singing "He's in truuuuubbbllle..  He's in truuuubbbllle"  I turn to Aidan who now has slipped out of the kitchen and exits to his bedroom in the finished basement punctuating said move with a fierce slamming of the door.  The slamming of the door (OF COURSE) wakes up the baby who begins to wail at the scary noise that jolted her out of  her sound sleep.  Predictably and understandably, my husband is livid at the commotion caused by my two boys who have now woken up his daughter.  A commotion mind you that is still continuing.  Gannan is taunting loudly from his bedroom.  Aidan is blustering boisterously from his bedroom.  Jeff is fuming in the living room.  I am trying to sooth a ten month old who clearly would rather have her father-- indicated by a stiff back arch that keeps her as far away from me as humanly possible, the finger pointing to the closed door and the incessant "da da, da da, da da," that is coming from her quivering lips. 

Her father, after trying to compose himself, finally comes into the baby's bedroom.  She instantly stops the heavy heaving crying she has been doing with me I dare say it???? Well...she smiles...sigh.  I leave daddy and daddy's girl to go back to the sanctuary of my bedroom-beaten and battered, angry and anxious, resentful and rageful.  An hour later (that's 1:30 AM for those of you keeping a tally on the time) I am still feeling all of these things that come in the form of a mish-mashed rounded heavy ball in the pit of my stomach.  If I could categorize the chunks that make up the spherical agony-it would be self-wallowing and jealousy due to the fact that Ila really and truly prefers her dad to me and an absolute fiery fury directed at the boys
who in their need to be contrary and ornery forget that their anger and contentiousness causes chaos and misery to innocent bystanders like a ten month old sleeping baby. 

Around 2 AM desperately needing to sleep, I walked to the kitchen for a glass of milk hoping it would bring on the needed zzzzzzz's.  I am incredulous at the quiet.  Husband sound asleep on the couch in the living room.  Ila tucked away in the corner of her crib.  Aidan's basement teen palace dark and silent.  Gannan's long legs hanging off the side of his bed in sleepy angles.  Only me awake with my thoughts, awake with my anger and frustration.  A solitary mother bathed in the light of the refrigerator.