Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Monster in Me.

Funny thing about a garden
Beauty lives within its gates
Bugs and thorns and weeds they grow there
But they all help to create

Vivid color variations
Sweet aromas and sensations
Realize under it all
Something not so beautiful but we all

Need a little bit, I need a little bit
Need a little bit of dirt to grow
We need a little bit, I need a little bit
Need a little rain to wash our souls
We need a little bit, I need a little dirt to grow

~ from Mary Mary


I pray over my children these words as they sleep:

"Lord, please protect them from monsters. Especially the monster in me."

The monster in me.

I am not a perfect mother by any stretch. Many of my meals would not be considered nutritious by anybody's food pyramid standards. I rush my kids more than I should and answer my phone to talk while I'm driving. I lose my patience with homework four out of five days and on some days I even want to cry a little bit. Partly because I have no idea how to do whatever it is my child has been asked to do but also because I just wish that, on this particular day, they could just do it without asking me.

Yes. I said it. Horrible right?

After work, I feel tired. Too tired for stuff like kids who want to be playful when they have a crap ton of homework and too tired to fight about taking showers. And it's not because I don't want to be playful with them. It's just that kids sometimes don't prioritize ninja battles over new math. It makes my head hurt when I think about it since I'm not fully convinced they should.

There are days that I kiss them from the living room and tell them to go hit the sack without any sort of tuck-in pomp or circumstance. I give in sometimes on things like letting my kid wear his Marshawn Lynch jersey three of the the five week days or I've decided that my other kid's propensity for never, ever wearing his Vans with socks (even in the dead of winter) is just too first world an issue for me to fight. We sprint like Flo Jo to the bus stop more often than we should. I fall asleep on my kids when they're reading to me and fall asleep while I'm reading to them.  A lot.

I sure do.

And some weeks are worse than others. Some weeks, yes, hot dogs are for dinner and breakfast is on the supper menu on another day. And as I'm serving it, I'm thinking, "June Cleaver would so not do this" or "I bet every other mom at my kids' schools are serving up some organic, gluten free gourmet feast right about now." I try to measure it out and say that prayer again, hoping it isn't too blasphemous to be crossing my fingers for added luck. When I'm speaking those prayers during my craziest weeks, I add on words like, "Please, please, please, let their minds hold tightly to the good things I do and their memories have amnesia to the bad things I do."

Am I too tough on them? Or not tough enough? Do I give them enough attention? Or not enough? Is it the right attention even? And. . .am I the bully I so vehemently warn them about with my exasperated digs during homework time? Am I? Hell if I know.

My point is just that life is such a swinging pendulum, you know? One day it peaks to the right as you being the world's most awesome mother and other days it sharply goes left and you (feel like you) suck. And I guess what I think about and pray about a lot is that line between what is just me being inside of my head and something real. Like really in the grand scheme of things will it be permanently damaging to hear me raise my voice over language arts or will it instead just be a blink on the radar? I honestly have no idea.

Many of us go by our upbringing. Mine is an N of 4--Will, Deanna, JoLai and myself. I remember a lot of things and mostly have very, very sweet memories of how my mom was with us day to day. I recall the period where she went back to college and the very basic meals that we had back then. My mom was no foodie when we were growing up and isn't now. But not having a meal that took her all day doesn't stand out. I recall scrambling eggs and eating cereal a lot, too. Yes, I remember it but more with warm nostalgia than anything else.

Those are the things I do remember. Either my mother rarely rushed us or I just don't recall it. With four children, I imagine that she had to crack the whip sometimes. I also have no recollection of homework being a challenge. Like ever. And maybe because it wasn't. But some piece of me deeply hopes that we did get rushed and that we did frustrate the heck out of our mom over our homework on a weekly basis. And that I'm simply amnestic to it all.


I am rambling, I know. And honest-to-goodness I'm just sorting out thoughts. I don't have the answers at all. But in this world of social media making people's lives and parenting looks so perfect, I am okay with saying, "Not this one over here." But am I trying at it? You're damn right I am.

Let me also say this: Nothing is wrong. I am not feeling sad today nor has some pivotal child issue rattled my cage. Not one bit. The kids are alright and the BHE is, too. I just like to unpack pieces of my life and then repack them again. I like reflecting and wondering and sorting through thoughts. And this is just one of the places where I do it.

So don't worry. Okay? Don't.

I just think that it's really deep to be a parent, man. And in my faith we believe that God entrusts us with our children. That idea is heavy, too, you know? Like think about the most precious things you own and who you'd trust to handle whatever that may be. So I also utter words of thankfulness for that piece of it and also petition to be equipped with whatever I need to get it right and not damage what's been loaned to me for a while.

Yeah. So my point is, as much as I fear some wretched piece of this big world robbing my children of their innocence or worse, their confidence. . . . deep down I believe that it's important to protect our kids from the worst, most broken parts of ourselves, too. That is, until they're old enough to understand those pieces of us.

In other words, sometimes we can be the big bad wolves or the monsters under the beds. And what's worse is, if we aren't careful, we're the ones that never go away.

That's all I've got, y'all. Thanks for listening.


Life at times can make you weak
And I have cried myself to sleep
'Cause reality makes you cry
But the truth will dry your eyes

Things they just can't stay the same
When you work hard and you pray
Yeah, it may be kind of rough now
But the point I'm trying to make is that we

We all need a little bit, I need a little bit
Need a little bit of dirt to grow
We need a little bit, I need a little bit
Need a little rain to wash our souls
We need a little bit, I need a little dirt to grow

Oh, sometimes you may sing for yourself
You struggle hard just to prevail
It's the lesson you need to learn
It's the way you've got to earn

Champions never accept defeat
They fall and get back on their feet
'Cause they know like I know
That if you want to grow we

We all need a little bit, I need a little bit
Need a little bit of dirt to grow
We need a little bit, I need a little bit
Need a little rain to wash our souls
We need a little bit, I need a little dirt to grow. . . 

Happy Humpday.

Now playing on my mental iPod . . . this song encouraged me this morning after thinking about all of this. Maybe it will encourage someone else, too. Mary Mary singing "Dirt."


  1. When you think about having kids, no one tells you about HOMEWORK. No one tells you it will run you lives for 10 months of the year and even on holidays if they get holiday work. Lord, I hated holiday homework. Homework made me want to stab my eyeballs out, and honestly, it is the part of parenting I think I managed least well, and that I retain the most guilt about, at least with regard to my son, who was not really wired to sit for hours of homework after a full day. of school and activities. But for his involvement in sports, he might have been diagnosed ADD, but sports helped him to run off a lot of that excess energy. Still, it was nightly torture, getting through homework, and if I had it to do all over again, I think I'd do the same things, but I'd relax a lot more while doing them. I was so anxious that his inability to focus on and get through hw on his own until say, tenth grade, meant he wouldn't be able to manage as an adult. Because that's what we worry about, that they'll be able to take care of themselves. And you know what? They absolutely will. And they will have a fierce work ethic because that's what they observe in you and their dad. I promise you. As for your mom yelling at you over hw, well, i bet she never did. You were like me and my daughter, I think--just came home and got it done and even took some pride in it. Not being sexist here, but boys are often different that way. I think it's harder for some of them to sit still and focus in the way hw demands, at least until they have a few more birthdays. So just do what you do. Help them. But put any worry around it on the shelf. They are learning more than you can imagine from your help. But I know, homework is definitely a thing. You are so not alone.

  2. Can I get an amen? I don't have much profundity to add, just wanted to add a note of appreciation for writing this. Social media is what we do (mostly) when we're feeling happy, content, celebratory. It's usually *not* what we do when we've gotten frustrated over homework and recalcitrant children to the extent where we get sarcastic or yell. I like how you didn't cut yourself a lot of slack, but I think it's noteworthy that you're a *doctor* for gosh sakes. You've got to draw on intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional reserves all day and then try to be the best Mom you can be after work. I know you said you're fine and this isn't a cry for help post. :) But here's a fist bump of solidarity from one Mom to another. :::fist bump:::

  3. Oh honey I have felt that way many, many times. But with children who are not all over 30, I can tell you that the very things I worried about were the things they didn't even remember about their childhood! Be easy on yourself. They will remember that you loved them fiercely.

  4. We are all so perfectly flawed and I am thankful that you testify to the monster that each of us holds inside. I am also on the hating homework train. I will write my kids excuses, when we want to do something fun or if we have back-to-back activities. No one is losing sleep over homework in this house and the kids are all right. Your kids, pretty much all kids, are resilient to the peeking monster that they see in us because there is so much good that they see most of the time. Love ya Doc.

  5. Soror, bless you for sharing this! It's comforting for me to know that I'm not alone! I often worry about some of the same things. Prayerfully, your kids and mine will remember the good times! Parenting is definitely the hardest job I've ever had. Hopefully, we're doing it the right way.

    If it helps to know, you're not alone!

  6. As an extreme parent, even the tens of thousands of seizures that I've witnessed in my daughter could sometimes rival the anguish of homework with my sons when they were younger. Honestly, Kimberley, it nearly killed me.

  7. You basically said everything that I feel and think about parenting and my children....the homework, the rushing, the meals (or lack of the traditional meal). You are not alone. The key is being aware, and making sure we take the time to do those things that are important to us when we can. Hopefully they'll remember the good in it all.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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