At the library this afternoon the kids and I kept it together pretty well. Until it was time to tell Stella it was time to go. "Nooooo!!!" she shrieked, eyeballs glazed purple from all the computer time she'd logged during our visit. One of my favorite things about the library is that books are secondary to computer games and DVDs.
I left her there on the mangy carpeted floor, made my way to the stairs (they keep the children's section in the dungeon), and just before ascending from view, hooked an angry "get over here NOW" finger at her. She submitted, crying and growling loudly enough to elicit a stream of apologies from my embarrassed mouth to any adult lucky enough to be in our path on the way out. All the while I wondered why it always feels like it's the Miller family who causes the loudest ruckus in the library.
In the car, when Hamish sang, "Stella is a Baby-Cry!" I banished them from television for the remainder of the day. The night turned out to be uplifting without TV, enough so that Bryan and I have volleyed a few emails this evening considering removing it altogether.
Hours before the glory, I snuck a call from the back steps to tell him, "It's fallen apart already. I want to lock myself in the bathroom for the rest of the night, I'VE HAD IT." I explained the library situation and the fact that upon returning home the two humans I brought forth from my loins lay sprawled on the living room floor demanding TV RIGHT NOW MOMMY!! And when I refused again (and again and again) they stuck their tongues out at me and spit a wet ditty.
During our phone conference Bryan and I decided it would be best if I indulged my inner bitch for the night, forgoing my usual round of "Why can't I be one of those moms who never raises her voice, who always has a gentle tone and age-appropriate distraction at the ready, who always sees the glittery golden angel inside the demon spawn, and is never shaken, ever?" We thought maybe the kids had grown into a phase where they were possibly begging for limits, in the form of BitchMom™ with a Sledgehammer.
So I brought it down.
In Miller-ease this meant: no TV, sending Hamish to his room for "making bad choices," taking away the toys they refused to clean up, making him—gasp—get his own fork for dinner, demanding they clear their plates under threat of confiscated Bionicles, Bakugans and unicorns, warning my son that I was prepared to take away so many beloved privileges that I'd send him to school the following morning naked and starving, and so forth.
And it rocked.
We wound up reading an entire novel together.
And later, when I had time to think and write about it, I had REALIZATION/EPIPHANY/REVELATION #3,472,988:
It's amazing how honoring my feelings of anger, rage, fury, resentment etc. versus rationalizing, guilt-tripping, and/or bullying myself about them allows true (i.e., not contrived or nauseatingly fake) feelings of love and affection to surface. (This is not to indulge said unsavory feelings with bouts of vein-popping bellows or belt-buckle lashes, but rather to give myself full permission to be BitchMom™ and punish lavishly and accordingly.)
Thank you Jesus.
Then, a heartwarming turn:
One of their library books, Smitten had the kids entranced. A love story about a lost sock and mitten who find each other and fall in love amidst cold urban adversity, it warmed all our hearts. I explained to the kids that smitten is what you feel when you're in love, and Hamish said, "I'm smitten with Alexandra*," a classmate of his. I was all, "Really?" And he said, "Yeah, but she's not smitten with me because every time we're in the cafeteria her hits me on the arm." I told him that this usually means that the girl IS smitten. But he insisted that she is not. So I clarified, asking, "So, you're in love with Alexandra?" And he nodded, and I asked, "And it's okay that your love only goes one way?" And he nodded again, and reader, after such a long love drought, I was deeply smitten with my little boy.
Thanks for reading,