Ah, the precious milestones in an emerging spring… the first night’s slumber with open windows, the season’s inaugural gin and tonic, the happy wiggling of newly bared toes…
… the first evening your husband makes a mad dash through the living room, slamming shut windows, because your harpy-like screaming is echoing, clear as a bell, down the block.
Last night little man worked my absolute last nerve. The fit I threw was awe-inspiring in the sheer breadth of vocal theatrics; there was my high-pitched, ear-piercing shrieks of “What could you possibly be thinking?!!” flush up against the deadly calm and dangerous baritone directive “Don’t you DARE interrupt me!” It was a performance worthy of Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet… though now that I think about it, it was probably closer to Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Thing is, I am not the least bit apologetic about my outburst. (You don’t know, people. You just Do. Not. Know.) In my experience, sometimes you need the yelling to drown out the voice that is telling you to go into the kitchen and start smashing plates. The thing that chaps my hide about the whole situation is that it came hot on the heels of a new resolution of mine.
It occurred to me the other day, that while I have an endless list of goals, both immediate and far-reaching, I have never set a goal for myself to be happy. Being happy is always desirable, of course, but I’ve always seen it as a an elusive by-product of another event — not the carrot I strive for. I’ve been pondering how different my daily decisions would be if my guiding criterion were “Will this make me happy?”
I immediately thought of scores of things I wouldn’t be doing or would do quite differently if I paused long enough to consider this question. It seemed revolutionary and vaguely blasphemous, given my “pushpushpush!” way of doing things. Right there I decided, I was going to set my intentions to be happy first and foremost and worry about everything else, well, never.
Then my stalwart intentions were bested by an eight year-old and all hell broke loose.
I’ve been thinking and thinking about what I could have done differently that would have allowed me to fulfill my parenting obligations and simultaneously maintain my equilibrium. The problem as it stands is this: I think parents are the bearers of authority in the home and should be respected as such; little man thinks I should go soak my head. Honestly, whenever you find yourself yelling, “Yes, I AM TOO the boss of you!” at a child, you have lost, my friend.
The thing is, he isn’t going to bend. Pleading, “Mommy wants to be happy, so please stop being a colossal pill.” isn’t going to do much by way of changing his mind. Which means changing this sticky dynamic is going to come down to me.
I’m going to have to decide that some things just aren’t worth the fight. Some things are, but maybe I could just let do of being so personally affronted by his misbehavior. Maybe. It’s going to take a lot of practice. Fortunately, I don’t think that’ll be a problem– he’s eight, after all. I’ll probably get to practice being all calm and unruffled three or four or twelve times before supper this evening.
Luckily, personal growth makes me happy… and if not, gin and tonics definitely do.