Shelby, I totally suck. I am hard wired to suck. I see other people who have it down, but not me. I am the over reactor.
You were trying out Dalton's BMX bike today. It has hand breaks, which you didn't know how to use. Garrett was running in front of you, and you accidentally mowed him down. You felt awful and I put salt in the wound.
WHY DO I DO THAT? Why can't I let the life lesson be lesson enough? You wouldn't have made that mistake again. You saw that your brother was hurt. But I had to make darn sure that you understood the gravity of your "sin".
I told you that your brother could have had to go to the hospital. Your big blue eyes were like a swimming pool of tears, filled to the brim, waiting to overflow.
Damn it. It was at that point I knew I'd overreacted. Garrett was fine. But then a scab on his leg had been torn off so his injury looked worse than it was. Instead of the skinned knee, he looked like he had a major gash. The blood kicked it up a notch in the drama department for him, and he began to wail.
I sent you in to get a band aid and a wet towel, but the damage was done. You felt awful. I am so sorry. I said I was sorry to you. I said I over reacted. I told you that you are a wonderful sister. You cried your eyes out, your mother-imposed-guilt was so heavy and hurtful.
And then Grandma Paula pulled up like the magic fairy godmother, in her black Lexus, to whisk you all away to her ranch for the weekend. You took solace in her arms. I wanted to hold you, but I was holding a blubbering four year old. Dalton just stood calmly back and observed.
I've seen my parents over react. So I think I learned it from them. I remember being chastised, being shamed, feeling guilt, and over minute things. What is the deep seated feeling that you walk away with? Is it betrayal? That someone your trust just carved out a little piece of you?
That every child born could be born the youngest in a family of three, oh how in tact their self esteem would be. Not that they could do no wrong, but that their wrong would be measured proportionately so that the punishment would never be too severe or the lesson to harsh.
Dalton is the child of mine that I internally weep over because of how many times I've botched it. Shelby, I mess up with you, but not quite as often. And with Garrett, I get it. I get that life is short. I get that childhood is fleeting. I get that it's okay to mess up. That most accidents were not on purpose. That more important than the infraction, is the lesson learned.
And what did you just learn? That I conditionally love you? That I am only accepting of you if you don't blow it? That you were at fault for that accident? THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER TRY SOMETHING NEW FOR RISK OF EMINENT DEATH AND DANGER. Good lord, I am the worst.
Shelby, I am sorry. I am so poorly equipped for this job called motherhood. I started too young, I was too idealistic, I am faking it till I make it most of the time, and I am just knocking on wood most of the time that I've made it this far along without having social services called to come and take you away.
If anyone tells you that parenting is natural, then they are lucky. Because for me it is a constant internal battle (like the imaginary one of the devil and the angel on your shoulders) where I am trying to balance non-stop fun against important life lessons. With each situation that presents itself I always see it in a three dimensional light where I ask myself "to what end?" With the way that I handle this decision, what will the end result be? Will it be momentary happiness, and if so, does it come with any long term price? Obviously I am doing a rotten job of it, but there is my internal parenting philosophy in a nut shell. I do want you to be happy...oh my gosh, I want you to be filled with joy. But I also want you to be fulfilled and achieving and self-aware, and a critical thinker, and confident and empathetic.
I totally screwed up today. After spending hours at girl scouts camp with you in the hot sun, sewing buttons on to shirts, and walking around Sugarhouse pond, and watching you do yoga, and it's all for nothing, because at the end of the day, I biffed it big time.
So here is what I am going to do: I am going to forgive myself, because it is all I can do. I can look internally and see my seven year old perfectionist self, and give myself a hug. I can tell myself that next time I'll know and do better. I'll tell myself that you know you're loved. And I'll tell myself that I know that I love my kids, more than anything in the world.
You kids are my world. I live and breathe for you. I love to be with you. Okay, big girl panties up, time to move on. You'll be in good, happy, loving hands for the next few days with your grandmother, whose singular goal it is in life, to make you kids happy. I hope you'll be safe. My heart momentarily stops when you pull away in her car, as I imagined a seat belt not done up, or an engine without oil, or a future horse back ride without a helmet.
But it's probably the same way she feels about pulling away from my home in her car, imagining a mother who is disciplining too harshly, or pushing her grandkids too much, or not drinking it in...every precious minute of it.
I'm sorry Sis.