The Little One in the form of an Owl...(but don't tell her I said that!)

April 20, 2012

The Mary Mama (Warning: illegal drug reference below)
           I am sick of sounding like a bully.  It's not even that I like being mean-okay-well-I mean-I do run a tight ship! I'm a strict captain and when you step on board you best salute to your leader, wipe your feet, take off your shoes, and WHAT did I tell you about leaving them just inside the door like that-I mean, SERIOUSLY?!? 

BUT (Ms V has yet another endearing habit of loudly and emphatically saying "BUT", when she really means to say "that": "Mukaka said BUT she left you a note and some money on the kitchen table" and so forth. Now I can't appropriately use the word "but" without shouting it, mostly only in my head) if you float with me, you will get a happy, cozy, clean ship, filled with yummy food, a place for everything, and everything in its place.  So it is, as usual, a give and take.

            BUT my constant "the world is gonna fall apart, this is a sign of the apocalypse, how could you not do this that and the other EXACTLY to my specifications" is getting a little fucking obnoxious, even to me. And most assuredly to the little eight year old I often forget is an eight year old, not a robot (and in actuality a recently traumatized, previously mis-raised, though always loved, eight year old).

            The other day I walked into my therapist's office livid after a particularly trying morning with the Little One.  So my therapist made me role play some of what had happened; she played me, while I played my daughter. She then would go over the scene again suggesting a different way I might have responded.  Despite the fact that her reasonable, reassuring, sweet, healing approach had not even occurred to me, she insists that I have not done anything irreparable as far as over-scolding goes.........we then re-discussed whether or not I should be medicated (ha!).

            The fact of the matter is, I have had zero role-models for good parenting, especially for this age group.  That's very hard for me to say, as my mother is a very strong, loving, sacrificing, maternal figure who has always been adamantly explicit about loving her children to perfection (Freudian slip much?) However, loving your children does not equal parenting them well.  Love is a natural instinct (in most), Parenting is a practiced skill, for ALL.   The danger for me is that I am slipping back into the habits of parenting that I know, despite intellectually understanding that those habits were often maladaptive.  See? I'm all UP on this psychobabble shit, so I should really know better.

            And, in fact, I do.  BUT (okay, okay, I'll stop doing that) there is a cognitive dissonance that occurs in which I cannot relegate what I know  rhetorically about parenting, with what I experienced as a child. Since I still have respect and love for my parents, I resolve the dissonance by saying, "yes, but" and rationalizing how they raised us:  "Yes, I know she's only eight, but when I was eight I had to come home, order a cab, pick my brother from pre-school, and then watch over him and cook for him, etc, until evening......all I'm asking her to do is clear the freakin desk"; "Yes, but, in Black-America, there are all these celebrities who talk about how harsh their mother's were and how good it was for them and how they still love them, like Chris Rock's story in Everybody Hates Chris; I think there is something to be said about the coddling that European/White-American people do with their children versus then necessary (?) sternness indigenous peoples have with their kids-well, the sternness must be necessary since it is so common with us" Do you see what is happening here? The "yes, buts" continue and become more convoluted and mixed up with theory, culture, memories, and questions of self-worth (as is my M.O).

            You know what has been my deciding factor?  When my therapist acted out the alternative way I could have dealt with the situation, I felt more Loved. I did, as a grown up, as me, right there in that room.  Even though it was pretend and she was directing it to an imaginary eight year old, the metaphorical, remembered, eight year old in me, felt safe. That's how I knew, theories and the past be damned, I want to love my daughter just like I would want to have been loved.  Reassuringly, unconditionally, and SKILLFULLY.

            Of course, my therapist reminded me, it was very easy for her to do that, as it wasn't her child she was speaking to and therefore she had no emotional provocation to deal with.  Now that I understand how I want to be when it comes to noticing that something has been left awry in my perfectly pristine ship, the issue is simply to figure out how to chill the fuck out so I don't sound like a great big WAH-WAH-WAH bully when I point it out (not just to Ms V, but my mama as well).  Which brings us to the medication, yeah? But-ugh-filling my body with chemicals and dealing with side-effects untold, just to chill out, is beyond unappealing. What about a more......natural way? Yeah, you heard me.

            It has occurred to me that back in Ug, I toked/smoked/puffed/chiefed..... a LOT.  I could go months without the stuff, but when the timing was right, I was a pothead to beat all potheads.  And do you know the right time for toking? (No, not 420, let's behave here, huh) when you need to chill out.  I don't doubt that the recent intensification of my anxiety symptoms coincides with the fact that I have not had that option since moving to Tz.  I vaguely fondly remember, when I was still living with my mother in Uganda (before briefly tasting  proper adulthood, before being thrust right back into her womb here) I would have a sweet little session after work and by the time my mother came home, I would be happily, sedately deposited on the couch, and she would invariably say something like, "wow, it feels so peaceful in here", and I would chuckle in my mind because I couldn't manage to chuckle out loud.  Now does that sound like a potential maniacal tyrant to you? Me neither.  I was smiley, sweet, and peaceful.  I want to give my mama that peace again; I want to give my daughter a break from all the scolding; and.....I wanna get hiiiiigh Maan! (for humanitarian purposes, obviously).

            Just think of that infamously "practically perfect" caregiver (with a perfectly apt name) Mary Poppins
Mary be poppin SOMETHING, that's FO SHUA!! 

(Hey! Check out the photo credit link for a lovely comparison between Mary Poppins the book versus Mary in the movie; apparently in the former she WAS an uppity, perfectionist, authoritarian, prone to mood swings; it was Disney who got her high lightened her up for the screen. Huh!)

I think she had the right idea with her whole spoon full of sugar ditty, 'cept mine would go a little something like this:

            Toke on some Mary
            Makes the Mama-thing go easy,
            The Mama-thing go ea-sy,
            The Mama-thing go easy

            Just a toke on some Mary
            Makes the Mama-thing go easy,
            In the most de-light-ful way!

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