These days, my impatience seem to have reached a new level. It takes very little for me to get frustrated with whatever I am doing, too quick to fall into despair. Today, I was trying to teach my four year old how to spell some rhyming words. I first tried to make it fun. "Hey, do you want to learn how to spell Bat Man?", pointing to his Bat Man shirt. "Yeah!" was his enthusiastic response. So we did BAT MAN, then CAT, then SAT. Then he lost interest. "What other words can you think of that rhyme with BAT and CAT and SAT?" "I don't know" was his response. After a bit of cajoling and dropping some obvious hints, I found myself threatening. "Ok, then, no Lego Movie if we don't do this." Then it soon frittered to, "Fine, let's just finish this." We hurried through the next few words and then I found myself saying, "Go do whatever you want."
Through the process, I heard the coach in myself admonishing. Don't ruin it. Don't ruin it for him. Don't make this a negative process. Don't make negative associations for him. Help him love learning. Keep this fun.
But the voice that prevailed was the voice of dejection. The voice of giving up. It's the voice that takes over as you are losing the race, even as you resist its power. The one that says, "You suck."
I've been realizing over the past several months that parenting requires a certain amount of faith. The faith in the value of family. The faith that things work out in the end. The faith that all this is worth it. The faith that I can do this.
It's not something I thought of before. These are things that I took for granted -- that I would be a part of a loving family, that I would be a positive influence on my children, that things would work out if I just tried my best.
But strange things happen when you've been estranged by members of your own family. Bit by bit, the things you've always taken for granted no longer seem so obvious. You start to second guess everything that you've ever said, ever done. You scrutinize yourself through different sets of eyes and find yourself less worthy, less likable. You find yourself less powerful, less invincible.
The threat of failure lingers over you. You've already failed. You've screwed up one of the most fundamental relationships in your life. So majorly. Who's to say you're equipped to handle others? You are that person that others -- ones supposedly closest to you -- felt the need to banish. The one who could not be tolerated. The one who had to be thrown away.
It does a number on you, even as you resist thinking along those lines. You wonder about all your past actions. All the effort you undertook in the past to make things work. And how futile they turned out to be. Or damaging. And how all your good intentions fell so short. It makes you second-guess, when you should simply be chugging along, giving it your best.
I'm using this space to remind myself of all that is in my power. All that I can control. To remind myself that I am not all that rotten. I know it, but these days, when I fall short, I have fewer people to reassure me -- and too many reminders to suggest otherwise.