I’m Human, Right? by Conlee Ricketts
I think I’m normal. “Normal” is one of those scary words to me, but as a mom I tend to think about how much I’m screwing up my child. Is that normal? I say yes!
I like to imagine my daughter on Freud’s couch at age 30 blaming me for shit. Why not? I think at some point we all look back upon our childhood and those humans that were raising us and think, “Ummm yes, now I see it…that is the source of my inner criticism, thanks a lot Mom!”
I may be a bit over sensitive to the fact that my daughter will inevitably go through the “blame her parents” stage. I’m sure I’m this way because I already went through mine. Mine was short though, not because my parents were the “bestest parents ever,” but because my mathematical mind really saw no point. Logic told me that parents are human, humans make mistakes, and therefore parents make mistakes. All my blaming and finger pointing wouldn’t silence my inner critic—only I could do that. Blaming them wouldn’t make my life all better—only I could do that. So my blame phase was almost non-existent. BUT even though my logic was great and got my parents off the hook, it doesn’t seem to be holding up in order to get me off the hook. I am too worried about how I will or already have “screwed up” my daughter.
She is a wonderful girl. I think I’ve done a great job. BUT I see her eyes well up with tears if I snap at her; I see her shrink from me if I heavy sigh, and if I give her “the look” she starts to cry. “The look” I realized is the exact same “look” my mom could throw me over the top of her glasses that always cut so deep and sent me shrinking into non-existence. I don’t want to do that to my little girl, but I am human, therefore I screw up.
Last week I saw a glimmer of hope. I was having a few bad days of chronic nagging and snapping.
“Clean off your desk, it’s driving me crazy.”
“Lock the front door after you get the mail.”
“The refrigerator door was left open all night.”
“Socks! Your socks! Stop leaving them in the middle of the floor.”
Thursday I was really on a roll. One moment I found myself picking through all the crap on her desk looking for a pencil while she sat next to the mess engrossed in Minecraft.
“Seriously! I thought you said you were going to clear off this desk!” I heard myself snap.
“Oh yeah, sorry.” Then I turned around to see this:
“Yes, why can’t you be more like me? Look at my work space. Now this is how you keep a tidy desk.” I said using my best shame on you voice.
She stared at me for a moment, looked over at my table and then started to smile at me. So did I. Yes, quite a bit of the crap on my table is hers, but it is my area therefore my responsibility. I felt like my owning up to my own ridiculous criticism of her desk had really granted me a breakthrough with myself and my rotten mood.
The evening went on though, and no matter how much I tried to reign in my crazy mood I couldn’t. Grouchy doesn’t do it justice, I was irritated, snappy, crabby, mean, childish, and any other word that the thesaurus can come up with.
Finally, the moment came—the moment where I finally knew that none of my horrible crap from this one Thursday night would be taken personally and absorbed into the cushion of my daughter’s heart—just as the last bit of acid finishes leaving my face-hole while we were heading upstairs she says,
“Well! Someone’s in a MOOD tonight.”
Music to my ears! My hard exterior crumbled into laughter as she grabbed me around the waist and hugged me in spite of my asinine behavior. This day there would be no wounds left behind. She realized my behavior was my responsibility. My mood, my problems, and my behavior had absolutely nothing to do with her, and she was announcing that she was not going to take ownership of any of it. My girl is growing up!