Selfish

Sometimes, Mommy needs a hobby.

I’ve written about this before, but sometimes when you are a mother, your life (and identity) get sucked up by your family.  Some days, it seems like everyone has something to do outside of the house besides me.  My husband has work, and his group of buddies that hunts and fishes with, and he goes to football games.  The Grandmother bowls and shops and basically does whatever she wants.  The Grandfather hunts anything that is in season, hangs out at the local “old-guy” hang-out, and also does whatever he wants. 

I’m much more limited.  I can’t just get out of bed and say, I think I’ll go to the mall today.  Well, I can, but everyone has to go with me, and that takes some of the joy out of it.  That’s a bad example–the mall is never my destination of choice without some express purpose.  I really don’t know what example I would give.  I’m not much of a shopper.  I’m not going to hunt or fish, and bowling holds about as much interest as a visit to the dentist.

I often say my family should be thankful that I am as content as I am.  I don’t care about shopping or running around or any of that stuff.  It really doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t need anything. 

For example, I love to read.  Love, love, love it.  I read every single day of my life without fail.  But it’s a very disjointed process.  I read a little while, then someone interrupts me.  Then I read a little longer, and then I get interrupted again.  And so it goes.  No one understands why this is so irritating.  Imagine watching a show that you really like, and someone hits the pause button every five minutes or so.  Then you have to wait a little while and watch five more minutes.  Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? 

I think this is why so many of us seem to lose ourselves over the course of every day life.  We don’t really lose ourselves–we just sort of forget that we are actually people, not just moms and wives and maids and cooks.  It’s nice to have friends outside of your own family.  It would be great to go to lunch sometimes and talk about something besides diapers.

Mostly, I think it has to do with being able to use your mind.  I find that my own brain seems to be turning slightly traitor on me.  I’m forgetting things more often.  Worst of all, sometimes it seems like I’m just not as smart as I used to be.  I always considered myself a reasonably intelligent person, but some days I feel like the only thing I could have a meaningful conversation with anyone about is how to wipe an ass.

There is hope, though. 

For one thing, as I am teaching my son, I find I am also teaching myself.  I am “remembering” things I used to know.  I actually find that I can do quite easily the math that I used to scorn.  I’m brushing up my grammar, which is by far my favorite subject.

On a more fun note, I am also increasing my yoga practice.  I have just simply made up my mind that I will make time each day to do it.  It’s challenging both mentally and physically, because I’m learning the theory and history of yoga as well as actually doing it. 

Best of all, I’ve started teaching myself how to play the guitar.  My son started taking guitar lessons, and I’m cheating off of him, plus I’m learning out of a book.  I learned to play one of my all time favorite songs by watching someone else play it on the Internet.  That probably sounds silly to some people, but it is so much fun, and again, it’s working my mind.  It’s not like I think I’m going to be the next guitar superstar or anything, it’s just something I can do that is reasonably cool (you know, as opposed to ass-wiping.)

 

I think that’s sort of the point.  You don’t do the things that interest you because you hope to get something out of them.  You do them because, well, they interest you.  It keeps you in touch with yourself, and the fact you don’t just exist for the sole purpose of taking care of other people.  You have to take care of yourself sometimes, too.  Maybe it sounds selfish, but I think you’ll find that if you do take care of yourself, it becomes a lot more enjoyable to take care of others.

Do it for yourself.  Do it for that young person you were all those years ago who had a list of things she wanted to try.  Do it for your family, because they will really appreciate the happier, more content you.  Most of all, do it for Clapton, because Clapton is a god.

Black Tuesday (or, Mommy had a Meltdown)

     It’s funny, isn’t it, how little, unrelated events can combine and conspire against you?  How a simple task–for example, returning a shirt to Kohl’s–can take an ordinary day and turn it into so much smoking rubble.

     I won’t pretend I was at my finest this morning.  Monday night ended on a rather sour note, but I tried very hard to move on and have a good day today.  Matt, the kids and I went to run a couple of errands, and we went in Kohl’s while we were out.  Evelyn, who rarely ever shows interest in toys or books, saw a little Toy Story book set.  She loves the movies, and she was enthralled by the books in their handy little box (with a handle and everything) and immediately picked them up and smiled.  It didn’t cost much, so of course I was going to buy it for her.  All I ever buy her is clothes.  That’s all anyone ever buys her, because she doesn’t really care about anything else.  (She doesn’t care about the clothes, either, but she has to have them.) 

     Meanwhile, my son (who is eleven, if you don’t know) picked up some sort of toy car and said, “I’m getting this.”  I said, “No, you’re not.”  Ian wasn’t happy.  He wanted the car.  I told him no again, and I was fighting not to be irritable with him.  Then he said, “Then why does she get to have something?”

     Now, a good mother, a special  mother, would have taken this golden opportunity to teach the child, to tell him that he had so much and was so fortunate to have all that he did, and calmly and quietly call the matter closed.  Mother has spoken.

     Have you seen the title of my blog?

     Of all of the things about myself that I don’t like, the most despicable thing, the thing I hate the most, is how I have to battle hurt by dishing out more hurt–a childish, spiteful defense mechanism that I’ve had my whole life.  All of my frustration, my bitterness, my anger, and yes, my pain, boiled right to the surface.  I naturally have acid in my mouth, the kind that burns, and sometimes it splashes out.  Poor old Ian got it today.

     I didn’t make a scene in Kohl’s.  What I did do was tell him to put the car back right now.  When he came stomping back (and oh! how that look on his face and that stomping gate just ran all over me) I grabbed his arm and leaned to his ear and said, “What did we buy Evelyn when we were buying all of those clothes last week? Or the big pirate ship? How about your cell phone, or your iPod, or your DSI, or any of the other stuff she can’t play with? You don’t give a crap about her when everything is being done for you, which is all of the time! Now she can’t have a Toy Story book?”  I then turned my back on him and walked away.  But I wasn’t finished–oh no, not me, mother of the year. 

     I know I had a right to say something to him–his attitude and his behavior were out of line.  I just couldn’t be satisfied with that, though, because for whatever reason, all of that crap that lies in wait, hiding in the various nooks and crannies of my mind, popped out like some horrid Jack-in-the-box from hell.  Evelyn–who is ten, and by all rights should be interested in toys, dolls, cell phones, iPods, and video games–isn’t interested in any of those things, and can’t operate them.  Maybe she never will.  And it breaks my heart–crushes the soul right of me sometimes, a hideous weight of despair and anger that never really goes away.  None of that is Ian’s fault, but I saw him through a red haze today, and I lashed out at him.  I cold shouldered him, because I know he can’t stand that, I know it hurts his feelings, and I wanted to hurt his feelings.  I told him in the van I thought he was the most spoiled, selfish, ungrateful child I had ever seen.  I told him he should be ashamed.

     The shame, though, lies only with me.  He is only an eleven-year-old kid who wanted a toy car.  When Evelyn’s problems came to the forefront all of those years ago, I swore I wouldn’t make him lead the life of a disabled child because his sister was disabled.  I grew up as the sister of a disabled child, and it’s hard.  I remember distinctly feeling at times that it was always about Mindy, never about me, that I didn’t matter as much.  I felt punished for being normal, like I didn’t have a right to have a normal, happy life because Mindy didn’t have one.  I know that wasn’t the reality of it, it was just how I felt.  Ian would never feel that way.

     Right.

     Raising a child with special needs is a challenge, a subject that fills many books, but raising their siblings can be infinitely more complicated and precarious.  You’re always on the razor edge, ready to fall.  Today I fell.

     Thankfully, Ian is a much better person than I am.  Later, when we were alone, he said, “I’m sorry for being such a jerk today in Kohl’s.”  The last of the fire went out.  I said, “No, Ian, I’m sorry for being such a jerk today in Kohl’s.”  Things are okay with us, like always, but I hate what happened.  I hate that person–that spiteful, hurtful person–and I have no idea why I can’t remember how much I hate her when I feel her coming to the surface.  All of this crap belongs to me, not Evelyn or Ian or Mindy or Matt, but they are the ones who suffer for it.  Thank heavens they love me enough to tolerate it, and forgive me.  I don’t deserve it.  Today was absolutely a not so special day.

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