The Wager

Splashes approximating bigBy entering into this whole parenting thing, I’ve chosen to be an ideal parent. There is no option to opt out of it. My every decision is related to being the best parent I can be. Yet, I doubt my ability to be the ideal parent. I feel like a fraud when I write about how to handle tricky parenting situations with calm, patience and compassion. I know that I yelled at my kids this morning, and then wrote a post about valuing everyone’s needs in the afternoon.

I’ve considered packing up shop here when I read others who seem to be struggling with their parenting far less than I do on a daily, sometimes even hourly basis. I’m not someone who should be giving parenting advice or spouting off on how to communicate effectively with my partner.

But, even more than this, I have lingering doubts that I should be parenting at all. When I had PPD, I believed that my children would be better off without me. I have yet to completely shake off this belief.

It haunts me every time I have flash backs or realize that I may have reacted with a millisecond hand-twitch because I’m incapable of coping with my overwhelm in the moment and a child has intruded with a legitimate need. Even on a normal day, if I’m short with someone, I bring up that PPD thought to question torture myself.

I don’t live up to my perfect ideals of a calm, compassionate Yogini. I have judgments arise. I’m erratic instead of placid. I have ADHD and anxiety. I have a lot of tools to deal with these and I’ve got plenty of practice in effective apologies. But, I always fall short.

I’m not the writer I want to be. I have too many unfinished pieces and unformed ideas. I don’t edit closely enough. I write on the fly (like this) more often than I would like to and those researched posts never seem to make it where I want to. And I’m avoiding writing about more things, when I get stuck in navel-gazing issues like I have been lately.

While I’m standing here naked, I’ll share this shadow. I’ve often wondered why I am still alive. I thought that there was some magical age that I would be grown up and get over this obsession I have with the big, deep (pedantic?) questions about existence.

There’s a reason Buddha, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Lewis, Patanjali, Shakespeare, King, and their subsequent musers are dog-eared and rarely leave my bedside table for long. I keep cracking open their brains and poking around for “the” answer.

Joy

Image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

Surprisingly, I am happy, beneath all this maudlin, and self-indulgent, thinking. When I let myself, I know there is a priori to everything good. All life is fundamentally good.

I see it in the moment my children were born. They were so bright, it almost blinded me. I can see it in anyone at any given time, when they let their persona slip (especially in yoga class or while they’re lost in a moment of fun.) Most of the time we manage to keep it well hidden.

I can’t feel it, but I keep coming back to this idea: If you spend your whole life pretending to be good, then you are indistinguishable from a good person. Relentless hypocrisy becomes truth. Meaning, it doesn’t matter whether you are the parent or the person you desperately want to be. If you make every decision as you believe that person, or parent, would, in the end you were your true, good self. You succeeded, despite your doubts.

Sure takes the weight off, don’t it? I don’t have to be good or whole or perfect or anything inside. I can be a total, unapologetic fake within my heart, as long as I act as if that heart were pure and true. I’ve done the same thing in the end.

And maybe, just maybe, if I direct a little bit of that back inward, I’ll see that I really am all the things I want to be. If I let myself. Occasionally.

How do you get through on days that you fell short of your ideals? How about on days when you are fully conscious of your failures, but you have to keep trudging along anyway? I’d love to hear from you.

NaBloPoMo 2011

10 thoughts on “The Wager

  1. I almost chuckled reading the start of this. I know I’m catching up and you didn’t write it today, but Ive been thinking for the past few days about how I want (need?) to write about my failures as a mother. I don’t because I wonder what would be the point. I don’t want to solicite comments telling me I’m really good and doing good or the best I can or anything… I kind of just want to say, “oh my gosh, I just blew it.” and still be able to be as smart as I was certain I was before I was a parent. And I also had the thought that I maybe shouldn’t be writing all my wisdom as if I actually know what I’m talking about. it’s funny how great I can sound to myself when i’m “describing” my goals for parenting.
    Now, I want to talk a bit about where I’ve gone wrong… not to whine or grieve or self flagellate, but to take it the next step where I figure out how to turn things around.
    ….oops, I started therapy on your post….
    As usual, your thoughtfulness inspires me. And I am so glad you’re a mother and that you share your journey.
    xoxoxo

  2. Often, my ideals are over here, and what’s actually going on is way over there. I’ve found that not berating myself is the first start. Then, I keep on focusing on what’s really important to me. In the end, things seem to balance out as long as I don’t give up.

  3. “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again!”

    I’m so grateful I’ve never had those kind of mother-centered suicidal thoughts, and I’m so very sorry that you do. *hugs*

    Before I got into the nitty-gritty of this parenting thing I found http://www.askmoxie.org/ . Moxie’s philosophy is that we are the best parent for our children, and that you do what works (as long as it’s not abusive, of course). I find that she nails the essence of attached parenting, although she insists that’s not her focus: read your kid, do what works for your family. That’s probably part of why I don’t get down on myself too much for the ‘mommyfail’ times…

    I had some conclusion, but I think nursing brain got in the way. Yay for milk-drunk babies!

    • Thank you for commenting, Mendylady. I don’t really have them anymore. They’re more like a grooved record for me now. I’m used to them, so my thoughts slip into them easily. But, they rarely ring true anymore (except that tiny speck I can’t get rid of) I’ll for sure check out her site.

      Yay for milk-drunk babies!

  4. Beautiful, honest post Zoie. Honestly, the way I do it is by accepting that tomorrow/after nap time/our next interaction is a new opportunity, and a fresh start. That and saying I’m sorry when I know I’ve been reacting badly. Oh – and asking myself a question repeatedly: WHO’S the two year old?

    Thanks for sharing yourself with us.

  5. “Buddha, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Lewis, Patanjali, Shakespeare, King”

    Which King?

    I was amazed that reading your thoughts about acting good = being good resonated so deeply with me. The simple truth of it is so obvious! How could I have never thought of that way before?

    • Thank you for commenting, The Paranormalist. Martin Luther King has these thoughts on power and love that I just love to hold up and explore. I never get enough.

      This post is both in response to some negative feedback I received on a previous post where I admitted that I hold judgments and on Pascal’s Wager, most immediately. It’s an eloquent idea that a lot of big brains have worked through. It can be applied to any number of secular, religious, philological, and spiritual dilemmas, I think. I was using Pascal’s Wager to sort my feelings on OWS. And this came out along the way 🙂

  6. Beautiful post, Zoie.

    Sometimes I handle the less-than-ideal-Mommy days better than others. Some days (or maybe just “day”) I actually manage to be circumspect about it. It’s just a day, I’m only human, my children and I love each other unconditionally and that’s still intact, tomorrow is another day, etc; I take a deep breath and keep chugging along. Sometimes (like last Friday) I scrap all plans for constructive activities and just hang out with the kids all day and eat convenience foods for dinner (or, if I’m lucky, I’ve put something in the slow cooker before the spit’s hit the fan). The vast majority of the time, however, I shove the feeling aside or I wallow in it and withdraw from my children (kids’ DVDs come in handy) and focus on just getting to bedtime and try not to think about tomorrow, which is surely going to be just as bad as today.

    But regardless of how I handle it, inevitably “tomorrow” comes and it really is better. Either the kids are in a different mood or I’m in a different mood or sometimes a miracle happens, and we’re all in sync.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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