Very soon, I may become just another Parent School dropout. Indeed, I see myself as another failed parent statistic in the making. Classes are lots of fun, of course, but I can see some practical problems that may stop my attendance.
Upon leaving class yesterday I found myself smoking a half-pack simply because I could not motivate myself to go home where I knew that I would find mayhem!
Let me acclimatize you. Door opens. Three rush towards me. “He bashed my eye,” screams the eldest (aged 10). Both her eyes look bright and open wide so I breathe a sigh of relief.
“Liar!” retorts the adult (aged 55) of the house. “Look what she’s done to my shirt!” (Sauce stain on shirt).
“Let me tell! Let me tell!” Jumps the little one (aged 5) all excited, bidding for the role of narrator.
Then books, paper, plastic toys suddenly start flying around the house as all three of them chase and fling unbreakables at each other.
“Everyone to their rooms! Now!” My sturdy maternal voice does the trick, but then I remember Aspasia, the psychologist that heads our parent school class. “The type of a relationship a father has with his child is very much up to the mother,” she says.
So I consider where I have gone wrong and how I may have inadvertently sabotaged my husband’s relationship with his own children. Everything I do feels wrong. It feels as though I have tried to be on his side and take a joint stand but internally I often disagree, especially when he hits them every time he looks after them alone. He disagrees that I am as supportive as I should be, but I cannot bring myself to say, “Yes, daddy was right to hit you and call you swine.” Nor do I say the opposite. I try to keep a distance. To leave them space to work it out alone.
At this point I should add that things are not as easy as they seem. My husband has a brilliant excuse for his temper. He has multiple sclerosis. This illness is something that we can not ignore. He walks with a limp and is productive in his work but he constantly lives in fear and his nerves are in tatters. Apparently, anxiety is yet another side affect of this illness. (I have spoken to my eldest daughter about this at length. He does not wish to talk to her about his condition at all and feels that I am mistaken in doing so because she occasionally flings it in his face when she is pissed off with him.)
He is not the man I married but I know that we will be together until death us do part because somewhere in there lurks the man I did marry - my hero, my darling, my sweet, kind, tree man. He tries so hard. He does laundry, washes dishes, does deliveries and that is a big thing for a Greek man from a patriarchal family. I sometimes forget this and take him for granted.
He loves his children but does not know how to express this love. And I honestly don’t know how to help him or myself.
When we talk he says the problems are in my mind. He keeps pointing out my mistakes. And granted, like everyone else, I do make mistakes. Lots of them. In one of my lowest moments I emptied a salad bowl onto his head…feta cheese, tomato and oil streamed down his neck and an olive protruded from his shirt pocket. He says that is why our eldest daughter squirted sauce on him last night. But that’s a ridiculous notion because I had committed my crime when no witnesses were present. The kids weren’t even in the house!
So, what is it that makes us all at some point want to throw sauce and salad on the man of the house? Am I to blame for his poor relationship with his children? The youngest seems fine, but the eldest keeps saying, “Let’s ditch daddy and buy a dog!”
Would we be better off divorced so that there would be no salad tossing or saucy moments? Should kids be subjected to this environment?
PS For the record. I only threw salad at him once (and he deserved it!). I have never hit him. He has never hit me. He spanks the kids on the bottom. We have on occasion abused the crap out of each other but never in front of the kids.
Our daddy looks as stunned and a tad edgy as the father in this painting by Fernando Botero, "A Family". Botero’s work always makes me grin…and in my life I, too, feel that I should grin and bear it. Unless of course there is a better way. Is there?