Sometimes the hard of parenting is nevertheless gratifying, because you know that the effort you are investing in your children will eventually pay off. You are shaping their character. Giving them self-confidence, or empathy, or the ability to understand and respect boundaries. It is not the stuff that goes into hallmark commercials, but it is worth all of the lost sleep and grocery store temper tantrums. You are helping your children to grow.
The last few nights have NOT been that kind of hard. They have been more the “what the %@&$ am I doing wrong? My children are selfish little monsters. Why must they treat me like a prize to be won by any means necessary?” kind of hard.
The rational side of me knows that this is not the full picture. My perceptions are warped by sleep deprivation and back pain and an overdose of that delirium-inducing cocktail made from equal parts whining and sibling squabbles. Things are not nearly as bad as I feel.
The rational side of me also knows, however, that every other parent out there with more than one child has had nights like this. And so, I offer my poetic purge of all the frustration as a form of public service.
Sister…Brother… we have all been there. You are not alone.
What kind of love…
I do not want to be loved like a commodity,
whose apparent scarcity invokes incessant bidding,
where market share is based on skill at whining,
and wins are computed by monopolizing bedtime attention.
I do not want to be loved like a shrinking pie,
trying to divide myself in equal shares,
while they squabble over crumbling capacity,
and I disappear into the vacuum of bottomless appetite.
I do not want to be loved like a soap opera,
where manipulation and deceit are central characters,
twin ploys to force compliance to demands,
and happy-ever-after only lasts until the next frustrated longing breaks all promises.
I do not want my children to see themselves as greedy consumers of my love.
And yet, I have to wonder…
Have I taught them to love this way?
to see love as a game that must be won through someone else’s loss?
to see love as a limited supply for which they must compete?
to see love as a selfish gratification for their desires?
And if I have…
How can I change that lesson?
And teach them now, instead, to see Love
as the Source
and self-giving purpose
of their lives?
That last question is genuine. Ideas welcomed.