Tag Archives: kids driving you crazy

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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