Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I've been thinking a lot since my last post. I'm not sure I can put it into words, my thoughts, but I'm going to try.

Wottadoll's comment really struck a nerve with me. It made me really take a step back and question myself. And I didn't entirely like what I saw.

I think, overall, I'm a good mother. But this self-reflection made me realize some of my motivations... and I don't always like them. I love my child... but I especially love her when she acts the way I want her to. When she's quiet and obedient and clever in just the ways I want her to be. That is, working on a puzzle, or reading books, but not inconveniencing me.

I don't like this. She's not a person to be molded into my expectations.

I think there's a pleasing, if ugly, aspect to parenting (hopefully not just for me!) that is this: finally, someone that I can control! Someone I can bark at when I'm irritable, cuddle when I'm tender, cry over when I'm feeling raw.

This is really unfair to my child.

I guess the thing I keep coming back to is this: I want to be someone that my adult daughter, my darling Calliope, years from now, will want to hang out with. Secretly, I hope she'll want to be my best friend. But barring that, at least, good friends. And that means being a good person now, when I have all the power. Being fair and just now, while I have the choice, so that she will respect me as a person, not just as her mother, when she's older.


  1. My mom was (still is) controlling and critical. She expected things of us that she never taught us, like keeping a clean house or even making our beds every morning. She never took my side or supported my choices, then launched into dramatics when I kept things from her as an adult. "All I ever did was love you!" Sob sob sob. In high school I found an old journal of hers and read that she slapped me across the face for the first time when I was 3, for something I said. We weren't close growing up, and are barely friends today.

    Taking steps now to work on your relationship with your daughter will pay off big time! So kudos for taking the first steps.

  2. Oh, I hope I didn't say anything that hurt your feelings! Just wanted to connect on the issue of taking a step back and asking yourself if this is the relationship you envisioned, is this the kind of household you wanted? I have a friend who kept a picture she drew of her mother when she was little - in it, the mother has bared teeth and angry eyes shooting lightning. It was just how she saw her mother. She keeps it as a reminder that that's not how she wants her young daughter to see her. I thought about this the night I kept trying to punish B and realized this was not who I wanted to be to him, and not the kind of house I want us to live in. It's hard when toddlers can be so exasperating sometimes, but I do believe you and I even being aware of all of this gives us a jump on most parents!

  3. I think you're wise in recognizing that you need to take a step back, question yourself and also to recognize that there is the potential to be controlling. But don't be too hard on yourself. I think we all are on some level. I know I am, because lets face it right now they're easy to control, and controlling is the easy and quick way to get what you want. But taken too far it can be bullying. I struggle with being patient with Annelise. I too want her to behave in the way and do the things I want. And there's a part of me that struggles with feeling like this is what I wanted for so long I have a right to expect her to be a certain way. I'm learning that apart from bringing her into this world and be charged with teaching and guiding her, she is her own person with her own will and while I am her mother and feel like I can demand certain aspects of our relationship to be a certain way, I need to try to treat her with the respect I would give any other person in my life (you know the ones that can leave if I get too b*tchy).

    I often find myself imagining Annelise in the future being famous for whatever. I imagine what she will say in interviews when asked about her relationship with her mother. Will she say I was cold and controlling or that I was warm and encouraging? And on any given day I imagine that conversation going either way.

    I think the fact that we recognize the potential we have to damage our relationships with our children is a good indicator that we're going to make the decisions that will help build those relationships.

  4. I was going to write a long comment but then I read the last paragraph of SurlyMama. Now I don't have to. What she said. (there! finished!)

    Well, okay, I'll say this. Follow your heart when it comes to T42. For me, the long term benefits (not sure that is the word but you know what I mean) to our family, to my older son, outweighed the stress and chaos being a single mom to two under two. Again, follow your heart and be honest with yourself. (It helped me to realize that either way, our family would be a happy one and nothing would change my love for #1)

  5. Abby! I'm sure you've long written me off, since I've dropped off the planet, but this post (and your last one) really hit a nerve. I think it's the very thing that I haven't been able to put into words that's holding me back from really jumping into T42. I remember my mom being (for lack of a better word) such a bitch when I was a kid (and my siblings were even younger) and I know that so much of it had to have been overwhelming frustration at the exact kind of things you're talking about. And I totally see myself doing some of those things with Jack. And I have to admit, that scares the heck out of me when I think of adding another, even more uncontrollable element to the mix (i.e. a new baby). I'm scared of becoming mean and bitchy and just generally Not Fun. BUT having said all that, I so admire that you're recognizing some things about yourself that you want to work on. Honestly, that has to be one of the most important things you can do. And I will echo the comments of the others in that I know you're a great mom and knowing that you're attempting to be an even better one speaks volumes.

    Sorry for the long post. And on a lighter note, I'd love to come into Brooklyn with Jack one of these winter weekends and play with you guys!

  6. I hear this.

    But be careful not to confuse being controlling with setting and enforcing limits (or rules). Kids really do need limits, and enforcing them isn't necessarily being controlling, if done right (and there's more than one way to do it right). I set and enforce limits with Jordyn, but I'm also fun and silly. For instance, she was tired and really cranky tonight, and I was trying to get dinner ready. She wanted cookies, and I wasn't going to give them to her just before diner, and she was crying. So, instead of giving in, I acted silly... You should have seen me shaking my butt and singing "tushy rushy rushy" around the kitchen to distract her and make her laugh!

    I think you're doing a great job, for what it's worth. I definitely agree with whoever said we're all too hard on ourselves in some way or another. We all have our "not the mom of the year" moments, and even days. It's ok. I'm sure Calliope doesn't even remember the not-so-fun moments, because there are so many really fun ones in between!

  7. Totally ditto Lara (and thus, Surly too).

    The other day I was chatting with a friend about the fucking awful weekend I had last weekend. I said "I was just awful to Fiona, and she was pretty awful to me, too (but she has the good excuse of being 4)." And my friend replied, "one great thing about Fiona being 4 is that 4 year olds don't hold grudges."

    And my friend is right. These little beings forgive us (at least for now). Most of us need to work on being better parents, yes. I certainly do. But I know I already am doing something different than my own mom. My mom never admitted she was wrong. I do, all the time! On Sunday night I held Fiona and said "I am sorry I yelled at you, I was so tired and mad, but it wasn't ok, and I really love you." She gave me a big hug and all has been fine since then.

  8. I am so so far behind in my blog reading so am just seeing this now. Abby, this post is so poignantly true. You've spoken about the mother daughter relationship as tho you looked into my heart.