Monday, April 12, 2010

Adventures in Real Parenting: Mirror Mirror

The morning was going swimmingly*.  Well, except for that bit of negative self talk I committed while dusting out the bathroom wastebasket** at around about 8:11 a.m.  I believe it went something like this:

This story is rubbish. There is no story.  Well, not that anyone is ever going to want to buy.  Or read.  Or even wipe their bottom with.  Why did I ever think I could actually write?  Fuckery, I've wasted months.  I should go get a job at Starbucks.  If they'll have me.  I'm such a loser I probably couldn't find a job at Starbucks.  Maybe I should give it all up and go back to being a secretary like I did in the early "career."  Career.  Now there's a funny word for what I used to do.  Why is that I once ran an organization and now I read the job descriptions and think they'd never hire me to do that because I couldn't possibly do all those REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS.  I AM a loser.  Maybe I could get a job cleaning houses.  I'm good at that.  I mean, look at how blindingly sparklingly clean this wastebasket is now!  Writing?  What was I thinking.  Maybe I should just start all over.  Again.

Then my stomach growled, I decided to watch a Foyle's War for "research" because after all that, I decided I better bloody well finish this story or I might never finish anything ever again, and, having gotten my life all sorted (again), headed to the kitchen to make myself some breakfast.

I was in the middle of carefully measuring out some steel cut oats when my phone indicated that I had a new text message.  It was from someone who shall remain nameless, but with whom a chunk of my heart resides elsewhere.

"I am a horrible student....."

Oh dear.

What came next was a text version of the negative self-talk I'd just committed and was between two people which meant that at least there was someone on the receiving end of the conversation to say things like "stop that" or "that's not true" or "you're a fine person and an excellent student."

It made me think how our children reflect us back to ourselves.  While I was running myself and that much rumored potential of mine down, someone else was whipping herself into a frenzy over a lost jump drive and an unfinished paper that was due at 9:00 a.m.

Nevermind what she says, she is a great student and a fine person and her morning wasn't going well and she's human.  And I hate it that for a while, she was hating on one of my favorite people because, well, it was a rough morning and she was paying the price for procrastinating and wasn't feeling so great about things and so she was taking it out on herself.

So I did what a parent does.  I told her that her morning sucked balls with an extra helping of self-loathing, and she would have to finish the paper when she had time, but she was going to be okay. So what if Carol Brady never used phrases like "sucks balls" in her parenting, we each must work with the tools we've got.

I should have asked her if she had moved to the cleaning stage yet.  And I suppose I should be at least somewhat relieved that she was blaming herself and not someone else (me).

*Swimmingly = everyone out the door on time and with everything they needed, house tidied, pussies for peace tended to, bed made, 20 minute high intensity run completed and everything just so in order for me to get on with my day.

**Dusting during pine pollen season = a favorite procrastination technique


  1. You write "sucks balls" as if that is a bad thing.

    I disagree. Very good thing, unless one uses some mechanical means to suck.

  2. But that's the basis of Life - It sucks and we pretend it doesn't.

  3. I love you how just so honestly support your child, it's oh so true. I'm a realist with my kids, but I don't cut myself much slack either.

    BTW, you do not suck, you are so worthy, and I wish I'd had a mom who believed in me more...........she loved me, but well.........I could write a book.....or at least a bitch blog!

  4. No doubts girl!! You ARE a great writer! You can do it! :)

  5. Writing's damn hard work. The book I finished took 20 years to complete. Oh I thought I was done with several times. Put it away and dreamed of publishing it. Then I took it out again and started over in a whole new way. One can make a career of writing the same book over and over. The publishing part is not within my capacity to do anything about. I CAN'T write a query letter and now I find if I've published on my blog nobody will represent me. So I'm sort of relieved. Now I can just keep writing.

  6. Ah yes, I know that negative-inner-monologue - all too well! Great advice you gave to your daughter! Some times things DO 'suck balls'!

  7. Lisa, it is indeed difficult when those we love reflect our own shortcomings back at us. You are more than just a talented writer. You're a wondeful mom.

  8. As I was reading your inner dialogue I felt as if my inner dialogue had left my body and come and visited you and I wanted to send my sincere apologies for letting my inner self-talk have access to my Google friends list. I hope that for the rest of the day my negative self-talk will leave us all alone. I put it in an empty bottle of Jack Daniels. I think it will be happy there.

  9. My inner-judge is a real poopy pants who loves perfection a bit too much and has absolutely NO compassion at all. He's a real ass. I say he because only a MAN would be that harsh to me.

    The real me is, however, a bit lazy and prone to fun and humor which doesn't get much work done. I suspect you are also marvelous.

  10. That always sucks the air out of my day - when I ponder the negative or hear my daughter say something negative about herself.

    We have got to get over it! But then we might be stepford wives....

  11. obviously you have not bought the Brady Bunch Uncensored.

    I'm pretty sure some (it may have been Alice not Carol) said suck balls.

    Speaking as someone who went to school a ways away from the family it was nice to know I had someone (Mom or Dad) just to call and cry "BLARGGGHHH" to and they would not preach or tell me I was wrong they would listen, empathize and let me know I was going to be ok.

    Nice to see your daughter has the same kind of cool folks I had.

  12. Oh my GOSH, your negative self-talk sounds sooo much like Iwanski!--I told him to read this so that he doesn't feel so alone when he thinks like that. :)

    Seriously, it was eerily close to what he says to me when he gets in a "funk."

    Anyway, this was a good read, thanks. :)

  13. When I was studying for the bar, my mother's bathrooms were sparkling. Yes, I used to do cleaning as procrastination. Hope the Dancer is feeling better, and you too.

  14. I questioned myself once but nobody answered.

  15. OK, I will say it to you, your morning sucked balls, but everything will be OK! Any place would be lucky to have you and those that turn you down for any job are the big losers. And I personally can't wait to read your novel.
    Hope the rest of your day goes better.
    If it will help, you can come back to Chicago and clean my house. I can't pay alot, but we could have some fun.

  16. You're also welcome to come clean my house, and I'm geographically closer than caplma. I've even got a fat tortoiseshell cat with a bad attitude so you'd feel right at home.

  17. Carol Brady did, they just cut that out of the film stock.


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