I’ll meet you on the dark side of the mom

31 May

My children have their last day of school tomorrow. Technically, it’s really just their last hour of school before summer break. The school district is calling that hour a half-day; I can’t help but wonder why we wonder that our children have a hard time with math.

My kids will be home all day for 83 days minus one hour. We’ll reconnect. We’ll sleep late, go to the beach, make cookies, go out for lunch, run through the sprinkler, watch movies, go to the library. By then, we will have made it to about day six. And then I will want them the hell out of my hair.

I realize it’s not very mom-like to dread spending large amounts of time with your children. I realized this when I admitted that I could quite easily spend six weeks away from my kids without really missing them that much. I assumed that the six weeks would be spent doing things like, I don’t know, a writer’s retreat or teaching English in France or writing and reading on a beach in France. Whatever it was, it involved France. Further, I assumed there would be telephones and computers with Internet connections, probably even Wi-Fi, because—again, making an assumption—I figured that they have advanced technology in France. So, I could write and read on a beach in France and my kids could text me. We might even be able to Skype.

But I was reviled. The other mothers pounced on my uncaring attitude toward my offspring. How on earth, they thought, could I be separated from my kiddies for so long?  Apparently, these moms assumed they would spend the six weeks in a sensory deprivation tank. And that their partners would cease to exist or would instantly become insensible, incompetent boobs completely incapable of caring for children.

Admitting to being cool with a six-week vacation wasn’t the first time I realized there’s a dark side to this mom. That happened about two months after my son was born.

I remember falling in love with my son. Not loving him, but falling in love with him. Smelling the top of his head and swooning. Taking pictures of his tiny toes and the soft fuzzy back of his neck, then kissing both. I was smitten. At the same time, I sometimes had an almost overwhelming desire to spike him like a football in the end zone. What kind of mother fantasizes about slamming her baby into the Astroturf, I thought? A bad one, came the answer. A really, really bad one who should have her child immediately removed from her custody.

“This is completely normal,” said my therapist, admitting that while her fantasies were much less violent—she was just going to open her arms and let the baby fall to his fate—they existed nonetheless. Great, I thought, I’ve got a really, really bad mom for a therapist and her child should immediately be removed from her custody.

My therapist also thought it was completely normal when I admitted later that I loved IKEA because I could shop in the calming comfort of cheap Swedish design while someone else watched my kid. I even admitted that, gliding down the escalator, I thought, “I could walk out the door, get in my car and drive away. I could be a long, long way away before anyone even noticed.”

Eventually, I accepted the balderdash my therapist was feeding me: that good moms have deep dark fantasies involving their children. Just because other moms weren’t admitting it didn’t make it any less true.

I didn’t spike my son nor did I leave him at IKEA. He’s sixteen now and still living with us. We even had another kid. Though I have never fantasized about spiking her, I still have my dark moments.

My daughter cries about every little hurt, bump, or scratch she gets. She also cries when she makes a mistake or has an accident. Now, I’m not talking tears spilling gracefully from her cheeks. The biggest—and most racist—misconception about Chinese girls is that they are all delicate, quiet and well behaved. You know, that “uh, uh, uh, oh-oh, Little China Girl” thing.

There are no dainty trails of tears from my daughter; there is wailing, sobbing, whining and lamentation. It drives me crazy. It makes me want to smack her. It makes me clap my hands over my ears. I know these are inappropriate responses, so I calmly tell her I can’t understand her when she cries. She cries more because now she is not just in pain, but also misunderstood. I tell her I need her to stop crying. Now she is crying harder because she’s making mommy mad. I tell her she has to the count of five to stop crying. Now she is crying even harder because she’s being timed. I get to five and tell her I’m going to start charging her a quarter for every minute she cries. All the while, my inside my head voice is screaming “Suck it up, you little baby!”

My husband admits that he has had dark fantasies, particularly involving our son. Our son is not a demon though some have thought so. He has always been difficult and my husband came to parenting late. So, who could blame him when he screamed at his mother that at least he wasn’t “out whoring and drinking” when she mentioned how he might improve his fathering techniques.

Our daughter appears to have cured my husband of his darkest fantasies. Now he’ll more likely fall into despondency over his failures as a father. He does sometimes fantasize about driving away and not telling anyone where he’s gone. He admitted, though, that he’d just go to a hotel for the night and watch old movies in peace.

I realize I’m not painting a very loving picture of myself, but being honest about my darkest thoughts helps take away their power. There are days when going to the beach with my kids is exactly what I want to do. Then there are days when I’d rather clean the cat boxes. So, I’ll suck it up for the summer. The first day of school, though, I’m headed for France, at least in my fantasies.

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20 Responses to “I’ll meet you on the dark side of the mom”

  1. Jim May 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    This is the nature of love — it’s a choice to do what’s best for someone else even on those days you’d like to choke them to death. And let’s be real, just because they’re our kids doesn’t mean we like them at all times.

    • jmlindy422 May 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      So true! I tell my daughter I always love her even when I don’t like what she’s doing. Then she cries. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. keynoncoaching May 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    You will surely be able to relate then to the time that my husband came home from work to find me sitting in the car in the driveway with the doors locked…..Yep, they had gotten on my last nerve (probably during summer vacation after a day at the pool). And when they got out, I didn’t! Best part was that when my husband got home, he joined me! We sat in the peace and quiet and looked out the car window at the faces of our bewildered children. We often said as our kids grew up that ‘I’ve seen the face of child abuse, and it was mine!’. Being a good parent is sometimes about having the restraint not to act on those dark thoughts…..tough buggers to love sometimes!
    And regarding France, they do have all the things that you are imagining! And I say, go!

    • jmlindy422 May 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

      Well, I did laugh out loud at the locked car int he driveway. Love that your husband joined you! Yes, I will make it back to France but probably later than sooner.

  3. wisdomseeker1 May 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    What a great post. We’ve all had those thoughts and you are completely right that seeing them in print takes away their power. Thanks for doing it and for making me laugh along with you. You’re a breath of fresh air in the very uptight and judgemental topic of parenting! I too say go to France as soon as you can!!!

    • jmlindy422 May 31, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

      Thank you! I definitely will go to France as soon as I can, but that will probably be after the kids get through college. My daughter’s nine, so I’ll be pretty old by the time I hit the plage. Never considered myself a breath of fresh air, so thanks for that. BTW, my son read the part about spiking him. His eyes got wide, even though he’s almost 17. I told him the important part is that I didn’t! Then he said, “Good luck trying now!”

  4. The Waiting May 31, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    I love this and only wish you had written it right when we brought C home from the hospital and I fantasized about leaving the apartment for a second to get milk, never to return.

    • jmlindy422 May 31, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

      Oh, but you DID come back and that’s what matters.

  5. mysending May 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    The problem with actually leaving them for a summer, like I did a few times for courses I was taking, is that you feel soooo guilty the whole time, you can’t really enjoy yourself. And then when you come home to the mess…

    • jmlindy422 May 31, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      But I would love the chance to try not to feel guilty! So, now that you’ve done it, would you do it again? My sister has gone away for courses. I’m not sure if she felt guilty, but she was glad to get home. My mother would go for a weekend and come home to mess. Oh, I remember those days!

      • mysending May 31, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

        In retrospect, I got a lot out of the coursework, so it was worth it. But I also learned to do it in smaller pieces, just 2 weeks at a time, rather than 3. That helped!

  6. nevercontrary May 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Wow France. That sounds amazing. I think that every mom is wonderful in their own unique way.

    • jmlindy422 May 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      You’re right, of course. The trick is believing it yourself.

  7. Karaboo June 1, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    My fantasy involves warm beaches, torquoise blue waters, umbrella drinks and smoking hot cabana boys at my becken-call……

    No – I haven’t put much thought into this, why do you ask?

    Seriously – just this past weekend we went camping as a family. I could wait for everyone to go – and leave me home alone……I went anyway…

    • jmlindy422 June 1, 2012 at 8:31 am #

      Ah, alone time. I am kissing it goodbye in just an hour and a half, then my children will be with me 24/7. Thanks for sharing your lovely fantasy. Miind sharing?

  8. Mary Rayis June 2, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Poor you! I have another week before two of my four are home full time. I’m getting rid of the oldest. She’s off to New York! My new high school graduate is already home and slouching around. It takes my about 3 weeks to adjust to their interference in my peaceful routine. Then at the end of the summer I actually get stressed about school starting! I think I’m averse to change.

    I do adore my kids, but yes, I have chased my son out the front door screaming, “I’m going to kill you!” We had to move.

    • jmlindy422 June 2, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      My son and I laughed out loud over “I’m going to kill you!” I hope you didn’t have to move because of that! I never, ever get stressed about school starting. I do the happy dance all day long. I feel so relieved that I actually bake cookies for them. It’s become a tradition: fresh, warm cookies after their first (so hard) day of school.

  9. Every Now and Then June 6, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    I truly think this post is the most honest depiction of motherhood that I have ever read. Thank you for sharing

    • jmlindy422 June 6, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Thanks. I think it’s important to share all of motherhood, not just the wonderful parts. BTW, I love your happiness is list.

  10. Rebecca Latson Photography June 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    I’m so glad I never had kids.

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