Monday, April 18, 2011

the blame game

i ended my workweek last friday feeling really down. most of the reason: i didn't feel successful at my job of caring for the two awesome boys who have been entrusted to me. i provided the basics, but as for actually enriching their lives, well, i fell short. it certainly wasn't on purpose. instead, i found myself very short-tempered with them, and with their failure to meet my expectations. come on. they're 2.5 years and 11 months, respectively. almost any expectation is too much of one, but they're both very smart boys, and i know their capabilities. still, it's my failures, not theirs, that bother me so much

i realized i was, over and over, losing my patience and saying or doing things i shouldn't. i wasn't building confidence, but was instead on a crash course to break them down. it's good that i can be honest with myself, acknowledge this huge misstep, and take steps to correct it. in doing so, though, i'm reminded of my past. i'm a product of a pretty broken life, family-wise, and of a parenting strategy that was lacking in some ways and overbearing in others. while i do believe that my past is a factor in my behavior and beliefs, i don't believe that i have to fully succumb to its wiles. i'm not forced to be subject to its dysfunction. i can live a life in which i am aware of myself, my thoughts and actions.

it's easy to put the blame on my past, and say that i am not entirely responsible for my actions. it's easy to say, "well, of course you're going to be strict... and angry... and selfish... look what you came from!" the truth of the matter, though, is that i'm responsible. me. for my own actions. and for how those actions affect everyone around me. it's silly to assume that i'm immune from the person i was brought up to be, but it's also silly to think that i can't also be more than that. one of my long-time favorite quotes is from a book i read in high school:

"i guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. and maybe we'll never know most of them. but even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. we can still do things. and we can try to feel okay about them." -charlie, from "the perks of being a wallflower" by stephen chbosky

truthfully, it didn't really get any better over the weekend. coupled with some sad news from my family, and major storms across the state, i remained pretty down. i made some pretty ridiculous choices in an effort to not over-analyze my life. at some point, though, you finally wake up from the numbness and realize that it's perfectly okay to be human, to make mistakes. that's how we're made. we can strive to be better, though. when i woke up this morning, i did feel a little better. that's not to say i'm made the 100% best choices all day, with my words and actions, but i'm trying. i'm learning how to not be angry all the time.

today, i prepared lunch for the three of us, and instead of lording over the boys and making sure they're shoving food in their faces, i sat with them and ate my own food. they ate better than they have in weeks. the toddler told me everything he did at preschool today, in between bites and without his mouth full. he didn't make a huge mess (as he does when i'm distracted), and he ate EVERY bite of his food until the very end, when he knew he was full, without me having to ask him to keep eating. he used proper words, and asked nicely to leave the table, and cooperated when i asked him to stay until we were all finished with food. the baby quietly munched, his highchair pulled up to the table with us. he signed "milk" when he was ready for a drink, and "more eat" when he had finished the food in front of him. he giggled and grinned, and didn't pitch a fit when i left the table to clean up.

yes, they're smart -- advanced for their age, sometimes -- but they're still tiny humans, tiny flawed people who will spend the rest of their life trying and perhaps failing to live up to some kind of standard set by a world which craves the impossible. the least i can do is be their encourager, and teach them by both words and examples that it's okay to mess up. i know i certainly do.

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