Mommy’s temper tantrums

“I wish I hadn’t done that.”

This goes through my mind every time I lose my temper at Lily.

Of course, I was predictably arrogant about the kind of parent I would be before actually having a child. (Aren’t we all?) Yes, I knew myself well enough to know I wouldn’t be the perpetually cheerful, meet-every-situation-with-a-laugh-and-a-smile mom. But I did harbor delusions of unflappability. For I’d always been a driven but generally pragmatic, patient person; so I’d long pictured myself as a woman who would, in the end, be a zen/yoga mommy who’d never lose my cool – who, in the face of a kid’s irrational screaming and baiting, would just take a deep breath and let it all roll right off me, like so much white noise.

I’d never become one of those miserable harridans who loses it at her kid over nothing. Would I?

The problem with picturing what kind of parent you’ll be, before you actually are one, is that you don’t quite realize how much sleep deprivation, domestic tail-chasing (laundry, dishes, bills, etc.), job stress, parenting anxiety, and the struggle to maintain closeness with your spouse while still making a little time for yourself all play into your mood and your responses to any given parenting situation.

And if you bring it down to an even more basic level, I think, underlying a parent’s short temper is an anger with yourself because, ultimately, you CHOSE this chaotic, challenging, all-consuming path. Continue reading

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Virtual Time Capsule (or, Letter to my mom, 3 years gone)

Three years ago today, on January 9, you died. You’d dealt with (what began as) breast cancer on and off for 14 years, but when the end came, it worked its destruction on your organs so quickly that we couldn’t get to you before you were gone.

On this particular anniversary, I’ll confess that I feel a strange lightness – an appreciation for the life and family I now have. And I have no regrets. Because you started making a point of saying “I love you” at the end of visits and phone calls once you were diagnosed (thank you for that), I’m not haunted by what wasn’t said; and since we’d visited you and Dad only weeks before, at Thanksgiving and at Christmas – despite the logistic difficulties of traveling by plane with a 7 month old baby – I’m wholly at peace that we got to spend some reasonably “normal” time with you before everything spiraled out of control, and that you got to spend as much time with Lily as was possible before you died.

Lily, sporting her distinctive fashion style in the summer of 2011

That having been said, I know you’d absolutely love to see her now, at age 3 1/2. She’s a mischievous little ringleader, with that trademark, thick, multi-hued honey blond hair that seems to run in our family.

Yes, she can be stubborn, of course (she was bound to get that trait no matter what, with me and Joe as parents), and she’s demonstrated already that she may well possess Joe’s temper and capacity for volume.

But there are nonetheless these moments when I nearly burst with love for her. For instance, when we were returning home from visiting Dad at Christmas, she sang and ran and skipped down the airport’s multiple moving sidewalks, wearing a sparkly red tutu over her purple pants, with her long, ragged braid bouncing off her back. I was the one chasing her with our bags, while Joe stayed with the baby in the stroller, so I got to see the faces of all the people we passed light up with smiles as they watched this sprite of a girl – this little being that Joe and I somehow created. Continue reading