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
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.
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
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!