Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mothering the Monster

Sometimes I imagine I am writing a column that will be read by thousands of women. I read a few articles in the new Chatelaine magazine which focus on mothering, natch because it's Mother's Day in May. It makes me feel like I would love to find that kind of knowledgeable yet slightly snarky voice some of the women have.

Particularly one article about the dark side of mothering. First time in a national magazine that I have read something dealing so honestly with a mother's inadequacies - she admits that she felt she was losing it, describes how she locked herself in the bathroom so she would not harm her two little daughters, one of whom was screaming and banging on the locked door. I think she actually left the marriage and the children temporarily.

I rarely felt it that extremely, but there were definitely times (still are? but rarer) when the screaming ogre, the PMS monster, the mommy-from-hell is at the helm ranting and losing it. When they were really little, I remember trying to meditate one Saturday morning, while little fists banged on the door, crying to come in; and silly me expecting my husband to pick up the slack since it was 'his turn' to care for the kids that morning.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a mask you could put on and take off, the Mommy Monster Mask, and after you acted out your frustration with the mask on you could take it off and reassure everybody that it was all just a play, not for real, that nobody would get hurt. Unfortunately, I think the tiny humans in the house would still run for cover and be extremely afraid.

Love-hate, light-dark, the shadow side of mothering is all too present some days. Most of the time it stems from lack of self-care, I think. The days when the cup runneth over, not of joy but of frustration, are often days when lack of sleep and jangled nerves from too much stress do us in. An article in the G & M newspaper this a.m. says stressed parents affect the health of their kids (DUH!). As if we need a scientific experiment to tell us this....

So harried and harassed moms and dads, please heed the shrill breaking of your nerves and get help! there are herbal remedies, there are breathing exercises, even just going for a run may help you get back on track. Don't neglect yourselves. Mother yourself, baby yourself with little kindnesses regularly. Keep the stress level down - I'm telling myself this, obviously, because when I am stressed my teens start snarling back at me and we all get out of whack. Why am I so hard-headed?

It's taken me this long (and I need reminding) to realize that my energy can shift, and then their energy shifts, and we're happy again.

Sigh, parenting is not about perfection, nor about 'getting it right'. It's about learning. It's about self-acceptance, the darkness and the light. Knock my head on the wall again to find out it hurts. Oh yeah, and naps are a really good way to change the energy to softness, for me.

I'm going away to a conference for 5 days, but will write when I get back.

lots of love,

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