Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Grande Pity Party

Now I have been known to throw a pretty good party. As a matter of fact, it could possibly be one of my favorite things… doesn’t matter if the party is at my house or a venue, thrown for a couple of people or for a hundred - it makes me happy. I have even been known to thrown a pretty darn good pity party when the mood strikes……these parties are the ones I try to keep on the QT……there is just no pretty dish to make what I am serving there more palatable.

Nothing puts me into full throttle pity party mode than guilt - single-divorced parent guilt to be exact. You know the kind - the guilt that starts will little Junior getting a bad report from a teacher and ends with the finely tuned orchestra in your head playing yet another rendition of, “If you were a better parent, Junior would be an angel…” I know that song well.

As a single parent, I often feel as if I am playing the role of both parents - being both cheerleader and disciplinarian…coach and line judge….windshield and bug. At times, I try to convince the world (and myself) that I am a good parent. The cycle is predictable - worry…guilt….defensiveness…..guilt….crabbiness…irritation…..more guilt…anger… call to the X….more defensiveness….more anger…more guilt… emotional exhaustion

What I have learned in the last year is that I cannot coerce, manipulate or otherwise guilt my X into being the picture of what I consider a good and proper Charles Ingalls dad to be. He has his own picture (possibly of Fred Flintstone) that he is emulating. Any attempt to coerce, manipulate, guilt or even reason him into my “picture” is met with a resistance of grand proportion. Our vision of parenting was not the same in marriage…so I am not sure why in the world I would think that if I just talked long enough…and passionately enough, he would “buy into” my vision. Honestly, I am sure he is on the other side of the phone thinking…..just shut up…..but he is typically somewhat polite and waits for the opportune moment to flee.

Being a single parent is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It’s not just the quiet house or the strain of being both household parent figures - - I feel alone on the journey. There is no one to brainstorm with, to be the voice of reason, to collaborate punishment options….. Although the X and I never really saw eye to eye in the parenting realm, I do miss our conversations about the kids - the sharing of dreams and disappointments….the feeling that we were Bonnie and Clyde…..going in no holds barred and then running for our lives in fear.

Looking back over the last year, there have been times where I have failed as a parent - I have been crabby out of sheer exhaustion, I have been too quick to mentally blame their father for their actions, I have both over-reacted and under-reacted. This year, I have been too busy….too needy….too tired. What I need to learn is to cut myself some slack - give myself a break - and then do likewise to my kids and my X. When there is slack in the rope, there is no push/pull….and then you have a partnership.


Veso said...

Good stuff Becks. I laughed my ass off when I read the Fred Flintstone reference. Good thing there are 'Bettie's' like you out there that take care of business ;-)

Becky P said...

Thank you V.... I am glad you enjoyed it!!