The Blame Game

If today’s post is semi-incoherent, blame my virtually non-stop reading of The First Law series (starting with The Blade Itself) that I recommended on Monday. I’m about a quarter of the way through the last book and I am not going to let a trivial thing such as sleep deprivation and Hapa Papa being in NYC until Thursday deter me. No, sir. I’ve got priorities. (Also, I really should finish the latest Pat Rothfuss novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, since it is due on Thursday but it’s hard for me to get into but now I’m getting off-topic.)

Anyhow, it has come to my attention this past year or so that I’m very keen to blame someone or something when things go awry. Whether it is something as stupid as a blown out diaper or as serious as the car dying in the 2nd lane of the freeway (as in, the engine just cutting out and me barely making it to the side of the freeway) while I was driving back from getting ramen at 9:40pm two Friday nights ago (I’m looking at youHapa Papa), I always seem to look for a person to blame. (Looking at Hapa Papa again. Sorrynotsorry.)

I zone in on whether or not the diaper was properly put on, wrapped, or whatever. And then I am quick to accuse and berate and verbally harangue my poor husband. And then sometimes, I realize after being a jerk that it was I who diapered Glow Worm last and then I mumble an apology and try to justify my assishness. (Is that a word? Enh, it is now.)

My children have now picked up on this bad habit. (Well, let’s be real. They probably would have done it anyway – but I’m sure they’ll lay the blame at my feet when they, too, are in their mid-to-late thirties and in therapy.)

And well, lately, it has occurred to me that perhaps this quick to blame and find fault part of my personality and character is perhaps not a good thing.

Here’s the thing: I think I do it because I want to feel in control of my life. Like, if I could just find that moment, that tipping point, then next time, whatever it is I am so keen on avoiding will be avoided because I will have not done whatever it is that caused the thing in the first place.

You get me?

The problem is, lots of times, shit just happens. Maybe if Hapa Papa had paid more attention to the low oil pressure light in his car or got the tiny leaks that Jiffy Lube noticed that morning fixed immediately instead of sitting on that information, maybe then the car wouldn’t have died while I was driving it at 65mph on a late Friday night.

Then again, maybe the car was just old. (It was.)

We can never really know.

But man, it sure feels good or at least, less terrifying, to hang the fault on Hapa Papa’s actions versus just random bad luck or bad timing. (To clarify: I’m not mad at Hapa Papa about the incident. I just like to give him a hard time because that’s the kind of supportive, caring, loving wife he married. Try not to be too envious of the man.)

It is far easier to get mad or point a finger than to accept the unpleasant reality that life is unpredictable and at best, they are just annoying hiccups to deal with and at worst, they are life-changing in a final and horrible way.

I deflect a lot of my feelings in order to feel in control. Control of myself, my feelings, my life. I blame others. I blame myself. I get angry. I scream. I make a joke. All so I don’t have to feel afraid or sad or lonely or adrift or small.

I find this illuminating because you know what? I do all these things multiple times a day and I never really realized that until just now.

Does this mean I often feel afraid, sad, lonely, adrift, or small?

I’m not sure how I feel about that.


Temper, Temper

It has been a rough morning. Not sure exactly why since it really is your basic morning where my kids refuse to eat breakfast, I worry they will be hungry, then I scream at them at new volumes and crush their little souls and see them slump into their chairs, zoning me out as a coping mechanism because Mommy is yelling and mean and cruel and I know I am making things worse but my fury is so acute and I feel helpless and angry at myself and at my recalcitrant children and GAH. It’s not even 9am.

I always apologize and hug them and kiss them and tell them I love them, but you know what? It sounds really familiar. Both because I do it to my kids so often, and because I remember my father doing this to me. Well, perhaps not the apologizing. He never apologized. But he would say he loved me and hug me and kiss me after beating me or screaming at me or in general, making me feel worthless.

I feel the sweeping tide of violence rise up within me in moments of great frustration. It takes a lot of control to not want to physically throttle my kids – or worse. I abuse my power over my small children, using my voice and love like weapons to browbeat my kids into obeisance.

I make my children – especially Cookie Monster – feel small and helpless and incapable of pleasing me. He lashes out. I hear him change his voice to please me or just to clown around; insecure. Gamera will tell me not to yell at Cookie Monster and tell me I’m not kind. She will also cry so piteously. Glow Worm just stares.

I am a monster.

I am a tantrum throwing toddler.

I am my father.

I am sad and ashamed.

I realized something this morning. When I get this angry, it is the same type of anger I get when I am trying to assemble a piece of furniture only despite hours of sweat and labor, I can’t find the right part, or the piece doesn’t fit, or I’m done and there are too many leftover screws to be safe. Only when I kick the instructions or throw down my wrench in disgust and curse and bellow, I am mad at an inanimate object. I am mad because the things I’m trying to bend to my will aren’t bending the right way in the right speed with the right attitude. Except when I’m mad at my children, they aren’t things to be manipulated; my children are tiny people.

Tiny people to whom I’ve been entrusted not to break, to handle with care and dignity, and to protect (at a basic minimum). Even more so, my children are tiny people to whom I’ve been entrusted to nurture and teach and grow and help thrive.

It’s just, why can’t they be tiny obedient people?

That really would make my job a lot easier. With a lot less yelling.

Truth is, I like yelling. I mean, I hate myself when I do it, but I feel slightly less out of control (even though it’s the exact opposite). It feels like “parenting” to me. (Sigh. Just when you think you’re past a lot of brokeness, you blink and you discover even more.) Yelling makes me feel powerful. And I am. Yay me. Way to go. Yelling at small children. So strong and brave and courageous I am.

Ever since coming back from Taiwan, I have felt off. Either a mild depression or some mild dissatisfaction with my life. But I feel it seeping out in the ways I treat my family, the way my discontent sinks deeper and deeper into my bones. I’m not sure I have figured out what it is, yet.

I want to blame external circumstances and other people, but let’s be brutally honest. It’s me. I have a problem.

I want to believe that I can just power through and solve this on my own. I want to re-read good parenting books or just hope that re-reading the Bible or whatever trendy parenting blog will fix me and yay! I’m all better! But I know myself. I will get better for a few days – if I’m lucky, a few weeks, and then slowly but surely, I slip back into who I really am.

Water always finds its level.

Holy crap. I think I’m depressed. As in, not an emotional state, but a physical state of being. I will need to think on this some more.

I hesitate to end the post on such a Bleh note. Hopefully, I’m just in a funk and not a full blown episode of depression.

Wish me luck, friends! And Jesus. I’m sure I need lots of Jesus. And babies. Lots of fatty babies for me to snarfle and kiss and devour and then hand back to their mommies.