Friday, August 15, 2008

I call it Kate's Coping Strategy

After a day of a lot of effort for zero gratitude, I mixed myself one of these:
vodka, lemon sorbet, splash of orange juice, club soda, lime and a little pomegranate liqueur poured over some ice. Or basically whatever I could lay my hands on that didn't sound disgusting when mixed together.

Then I took it outside and sat on the front step and watched cars go by on Summit St.

The worst thing about being this fed up with the small people inside the house was that I was also too tired to do anything more restorative than have a big old drink. Too tired to go for a walk on a beautiful evening, too tired to call up a friend and go out for some fun/relief, too tired even to listen to the radio, which is pretty pathetic on the tiredness scale.

I think the worst thing about how I feel is the guilt--I feel incredibly guilt that I am not treasuring every moment with my kids, even when they are being little shits. Sometimes I look at my daughter's hand in mine and think "It'll never be this small again--her hand will get bigger and she will get sick of me and I won't have appreciated the moments that she adored me enough." It doesn't help that I have a really sucky memory for reality. I can recount the plot of a book I read ten years ago, I can recite lines from my favorite poem from senior year of high school (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock) but for the life of me, I can't remember a lot of significant stuff about my kids' lives, stuff that Brian or my mom will sometimes refer to and I only dimly know what the hell they are talking about.

So while my kids are being ungrateful little wretches and sucking the energy from the marrow of my bones, I feel guilty. Maybe I'd have more energy if I just felt mad.

Though I must say, I do not feel so guilty that I won't spend the damn money to send them to camp next week so that people who are getting paid will deal with them and I will get some time to write.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I wish you'd had the energy to call me :) Jeff is gone camping so I'm bachlorette-ing it this weekend :)

You know that I am childless by choice, childfree, whatever you want to call it, so maybe I have no business commenting on this, but I'm going to. I HATE the way parents are made to feel guilty for not spending every moment with their kids. When I was growing up, our parents WANTED to get away from us. (Well, I was the Perfect Child, so my parents didn't :)). There was NO SHAME in leaving your kids with a sitter or whatever. Now it just seems like people compete to see who can be the uber-parent and make each other feel guilty.

There's no way on earth I can ever understand, of course, but it makes me feel bad. :(

Cynthia said...

I know how you feel - I've been there, too.

To borrow from Prufrock:

There will be time, there will be time
To remember the kids and the patter of their feet;
There will be time to have a drink,
And time to sit on the porch and think,
Time for you and time for the spawn,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the they are up and grown and gone.

Anonymous said...

It's not your fault that the village that's supposed to help you raise them disappeared somewhere. Probably about when the suburbs appeared and this country decided it was better to Be Independent, which meant moms no longer had a network of sisters, aunts, and neighbors to take care of the kids. Or that you can't just let them run wild, the way our parent did as children. Dad said he and his brothers would head outside after breakfast in the summer and come home for dinner. Sometimes they even came home for lunch. Can't imagine that in this age of traffic and creepy guys in the park. Wait, what park?

Don't feel guilty. You are entitled to have a life, too. I'm glad summer camp exists to buy you some free days.

Jen said...

I couldn't be more with Patti and Emily on this one.

There is no reason to focus on our kids all. the. time.

It's not good for them or for us.

I live about five minutes from Summit. C'mon over to my place and we can sit on my porch with some Sangria (or Patti, you come over, too, and I'll make you a real mojito, so you can understand the magic.) ;-)

Huge hugs!

Anonymous said...

What our other girls said :)

Love you, Kate!

PS: Jen, mojitos = good idea :)

Anonymous said...

Boy, I doubt that it's possible to be a half-conscious parent and NOT feel guilt from time to time. I don't think it's always a matter of competition with other parents (especially, I'd venture to say, in Kate's case; I've never known her to be competitive at all), but just the sense that time is fleeting and our kids will be grown before we know it, and we love them so much and feel such awe at what it is to have the charge of a small person, yet sometimes we get so tired and frustrated that we don't appreciate them. Guilt's inevitable. Rather than pretend it doesn't exist or be incapacitated by it, the best we can do is accept it and listen to what it might tell us. I don't constantly feel guilty as a parent, but when I do it's usually a reminder that it's not easy to be little. It's also a reminder, believe it or not, to cut myself some slack.

Susan W said...

I very much appreciated where you were coming from in this post, Kate. I am working full time still and feel amazingly guilty whenever I'm not "fully appreciating every moment" I have with my baby girl. I of course love her, and most of the time love being with her. But there are those days/evenings when I'm just pushed beyond the beyond.

I'm glad you knew to go outside and sit down with a big ol' drink. Much better than those parents who don't realize they need to step away and get some air! WIsh I could be there to comiserate.

Anonymous said...

I think you need to read Not-Hannah's eloquent post on "Bathroom Moments."