Tuesday, August 13, 2013

No Matter What - An Excerpt

It occurred to me that I never had a link up from here to the guest post I wrote for Glennon at Momastery. So here's a (rather large) snippet. You can read the whole (very long) post right here.

Here's the thing about Glennon, she's awesome. She's a real person and she's an incredibly talented writer and she's very brave. Because she shares the real things that I am far too chicken shit to even attempt. But I'm grateful that she's so brave, because I feel better for reading her stuff. I feel braver.

If you want to read a really great book, her memoir is brutally honest, painful, emotional, lovely and hilarious. Check it out here. 


I like to vent about the stupid things that drive me crazy. There is debate as to whether or not venting is a good thing. That’s why I started blogging, to try to put all the little things that were driving me crazy into some sort of manageable perspective. To try to turn them into something funny, so I’m forced to see the absurdity of it all and laugh about it. That’s my go to – turning things into a joke.
But for a while even that wasn’t working. And all the little things I couldn’t laugh at were starting to gather around me in quickly growing piles of anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed, and not knowing where to start, and eventually frustration, resentment, and anger.
And sometimes it would all be too much and I would just LOSE IT. And I would find myself yelling at my kids in a voice I couldn’t believe was my own. And then I would look at them, and hear myself, and feel the ripples that my loss of control caused as they washed over our home. And I would feel gut wrenching shame and regret for not showing the self-control required to be the mother they deserve.
Then the inner monologue would start: What is the matter with you? You just screamed at them to stop screaming. It is all your fault. Of course they’re nasty to each other, did you hear the way you just spoke to them? You’re a tyrant. You’re a nag and a bully. They were perfect when you got them and you’re ruining them. Ruining them.
I hate my inner monologue. If you have one, please don’t listen to it. Your inner monologue is a dick. Listen to me. Listen to the small part of my brain that actually likes me. The part that I can hear if I listen hard enough.
“Just apologize for yelling. Explain why’re upset. Tell them you love them. Shake it off and begin again. This time use your nice voice and remember that you’re all they have.”
If there was one thing that sustained me through the parts of my childhood that were unpleasant, it was the certain knowledge that my mother loved me. I knew she loved me so much she didn’t even know what to do with it. That love kept me whole.
Now that I’m a parent, I get it. I get how you can love with your whole soul and still make mistakes.
So I listen hard to the little good voice. Then I do what it tells me. And that’s when I can forgive myself. That’s when I can start over. Every day is a new chance to do that. Every deep breath is a chance to do that. That’s how I parent. I love with my whole heart and try every day to keep my perspective, to find what’s funny, and to not be too big an asshole. It’s so much harder than it sounds.
I need help with this. So I made a set of reminders for myself and I gave them as gifts to my children. They’re ugly but they do the trick. They are three little painted signs that say three little painted words. They do not say “I love you”.
Here is what they say: No Matter What.
 And I took these three little signs and I hung them above the doors of their rooms, where they could see them from almost every angle. So they could see them when I tuck them in at night. Or when I’m telling them they’ve just made a bad choice and they need some time to think it over. Or when they’re making too much noise and they have to decide between being quiet or a closed door.
Because they know that’s how we love them, their father and I. No matter what. And there is no “but” associated with it. It just is and it applies to every eventuality.
  • When you’re good.
  • When you don’t listen.
  • At 3am when you’re up for the fourth time.
  • When you’re being sweet.
  • When you hit your sister.
  • When it takes you 400 tries to just go to sleep.
  • When you are so deep in a tantrum that you can’t even hear me.
  • When you’re angry and defiant.
  • When you forget to flush.
  • In sickness and in health.
  • Even lice.
  • When you forget every single thing that you are supposed to remember.
  • If you decide you’re suddenly too cool to play with the toys we spent five years collecting for you.
  • When you hit a home run!
  • If you’re mean to other people.
  • If other people are mean to you.
  • If you fail a class.
  • If you have no friends.
  • If you have too many friends and I hate all of them.
  • If you’re fat.
  • If you’re beautiful (AND YOU ARE).
  • If you crash our car.
  • If I find weed in your sock drawer.
  • If you never call me back and always ask for money.
  • If you decide to vote like your father.
  • Gay or straight.
  • If you never come home on break.
  • If you totally f*&k everything up.
  • If you do things that astound even your grandparents.
  • If you disapprove of how we live.
  • If you choose someone who is the complete opposite of me.
  • If I lose you.
  • If I’m lost.

It does not matter.
Lately, so many things seem possible. Particularly the bad things, the ones I don’t want to think about. Why couldn’t they happen to us? Of course they could. We must accept that the world is an uncertain place. But this one thing is certain and I take great comfort in that.
And my kids… They keep getting bigger and more complicated. They’re growing up faster than I can deal with. I will not lower my expectations of them in terms of kindness, respect and hard work. This will cause problems sometimes. I’ll try not to yell, but I’ll probably lose my temper at some point. I will make mistakes and so will they. We’ll apologize and start over. And while I’m not always good at being their mom, I will wake up every day trying to do this job better. I will never give up and I will never stop doing that, even if we are parted.
And all I can hope is that they know, as I did, that I love them with my whole heart. No matter what.
(c)Herding Turtles 2009 - 2013

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