Friday, April 16, 2010
CRACKING THE MOTHER CODE
I know I’m not the world’s worst mother but I sometimes feel this strange compassion for Medea that means that I must be somewhere below average. I find it hard to trust my instincts and just get on with motherhood as I philosophise too much. That’s why yesterday I attended the first session at Parents School.
Hopefully, pooling my parental resources with those of others may help crack through the confusion. And who knows, I may come out a better parent/person.
Our group leader, Aspasia, a psychologist doing her PhD on family mechanisms already pinpointed my one saboteur when it came to being a mother. “You appear to have a problem with ambivalence,” she said. She’s not wrong. Everything I do as a mother I assume is wrong and even when I’m right I waiver. I keep rushing to the internet, to tomes of books, to other mothers to learn more about what should be self-evident.
My daughter asks “What’s a lesbian?” And I just dart out the room, rush to dial child helplines in panic so that I can get advice on how to broach this subject with a 10-year-old without detracting from her childhood innocence. After I compose myself I take on this academic air and say, “Remember how you asked me….” That means I lose out on the momentum. I’m surprised my daughter keeps coming to me with such questions at all!
“Trust yourself,” says Aspasia.
She asked us if our children felt security in their home environments. Everybody but I said “yes” (I didn’t say “no” either. I just kept quiet). Everybody around me emphatically nodded that their kids felt warmth and love. Truth is, I don’t think my children feel secure at all. How can they feel secure when I myself am suspicious of everything and everyone?
“Do you trust your children?” she asked us.
“Do I?” I wondered. Truth is, I don’t even trust myself.
Goodness knows I really need this school to help me work through my “issues”.
When I got home the kids were fighting, hungry and sleepless. Perfect opportunity to practice being the new positive, composed, self-assured mother I’m trying to be.
“So did you learn anything new?” asked my husband, raising his voice to be heard above all this mayhem. I refrained from snapping. That’s a start. Right?
* The painting above is Eugene Delacroix’s Medea about to Kill Her Children (1838) that depicts Medea clutching her children, dagger drawn to slay them in vengeance for her abandonment by Jason. Though I have never contemplated slaying mine, the thought of throwing them out the balcony has crossed my mind on occasion. That said, I should add I love them more than anything in the world!