Tuesday, March 12, 2013

If You're Feeling Anxious, I Probably Didn't Mean You

I am worried that I have set off a storm of self-recrimination among the mothers. Let me reassure:

When I say I "keep the house clean," I mean:

  • No one in the family has fleabites all over
  • I do not have to worry that my child will realize in the middle of the day that the cat pee smell is coming from his own shirt and spend the rest of the day trying not to sit near anyone
  • There may be dirty dishes on the table or counter or in the sink, but not in the cupboard
  • The washcloths and dish sponges are not usually rancid
  • There is never mold on the bread, cheese, bathroom, and dishwasher all at the same time
  • I don't yell "if I didn't have KIDS this house would be clean"
  • I don't leave cigarette butts and ashes all over
  • My eight year old doesn't have to wash and fold his own clothes if he wants to wear something clean

When I say "I don't freak out," I mean:

  • I don't start banshee howling when I miss an exit on the freeway
  • I don't break things when I'm mad
  • I don't jump in the car in a fury and drive away in a spray of gravel
  • I don't engage in road rage that ends in being pulled over
  • I don't shut down every tough conversation

When I say "I don't lose my keys all the damn time," I mean:

  • I am neurotic about knowing where my keys are all the damn time because I hated hated hated being stranded someplace while my mother did a banshee howl and turned her purse inside out and tried to figure out who she could call to get us
  • I can lock my front door because I don't lose my keys, which means my kid does not come home to interrupt burglars in progress (yes this happened)

When I say "making sure there is enough money," I mean:

  • The bank account is not overdrawn every month
  • Creditors are not harassing us all the time
  • The gas and electric are not shut off

These are not things that will individually (or even all together) ruin a child. Children are tough. These are things that made me especially upset given everything else that was going on. I overdo these things because I am so fearful of under-doing them.

(Giving physical affection, not hitting, and not routinely mocking or shaming a child for being upset? Non-negotiable.)


Blue said...

This makes me want to write up my own list ♥

Anonymous said...

Your mother sounded mentally ill. So glad you did not replicate your own childhood. You are doing well in speaking of the abuse and are on the road to recovery!!

DoctorMama said...

gmg - no, not mentally ill, and not a bad person. Immature, angry, stuck with a really crap deal in life, a product of poor parenting herself (my grandmother gave me the worst spanking of my life when I was three because I cried when she wouldn't make me waffles), and lots of other stuff. She was in many ways a good mother despite really bad circumstances, which actually makes this whole thing harder for me to process. My parenting style aside from the list I mentioned is quite similar to hers, and I love to hang out with her.

ozma said...

OK! My comment did post! Oops.

You are insightful, so insightful. I am having my usual bout of pre-partum depression. It is everything. So sorry--I had been on a tear about how I am terrible at everything, then I was like 'oh wait--that too!'

I should not have mentioned that. My lack of cleanliness is actually compensation for my own mother, if you can believe that. Probably not as deliberate as yours--not very well thought out.

ozma said...

Oh and thanks the Complex PTSD is a good reminder of why I am having some of the problems I am having right now. It's not all hormones. I only want to die when I am around my family, have to deal with them or am about to see them. It's just harder to handle now.

I don't have a clue what to do about these problems. But it's a good reminder why I have them. It's not all hormonal.

Anonymous said...

I understand completely. I have my own little glitches from a childhood which was irregular at best, dangerous at worst, and one of them is never letting my gas tank get anywhere near the 'E' symbol. My husband will say, baffled, 'But you can still go for miles and miles on that!' because he never once got stuck on a lonely country road at night as a child while his mother went walking off with the empty gas can, looking for help from strangers.

DoctorMama said...

ozma - get this - my mother's lack of cleanliness was a compensation for HER mother's OCD! The cycle continues ...
Can you just not be around your family? Much?

Anonymous said...

I love your posts so much! Thanks for being brave.

Majerus said...

This is a wonderful follow-up to your last post. And you are brave, and I love the way you take care of us (i.e. your readers), while still being funny and honest.