Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The First Rule About Fight Club

Dear Zoey,

This is not one of those vaguely smarmy love letters to you full of sparkle dust and puffy hearts. Nor is it going to be all that funny, though with time maybe I will laugh. But right now nothing is halcyon or golden, magical, nothing glitters, and if anything I think you're being an asshole.
For one, you stopped taking naps. Which is good, I guess, since you start Pre-K in a few weeks and there are no naps in Pre-K (or Fight Club, for that matter). But you suck without naps. When I pick you up from school you are cranky, clumsy. You trip over shadows and cry, whine, snivel, weep. I'm tired! you yell at 5:30pm, but if I put you to bed then the next day will start at 3am. Two hours later it is bedtime, so you scream. I'm not tired! The screech that shriveled a thousand ovaries and crossed as many legs.
Last week a mom friend of mine watched you draw at the table, the quiet of a girl coloring a horse pink. You are so lucky, she said, and I know I am, have been, would be even if you had been born with heartburn and colic and untameable callicks. But you are a gentle child, obedient, my future narc, I like to joke, a good girl who knows how to write her name, the Z never backwards. You get what you can handle, this same mom said later, and she's right, I think, though I am not sure this was a compliment in the least. I could not have handled a difficult child, the kind who slumps screaming in front of the Sour Patch Kids at Target, who runs away when I call her name. Zoey Dimon, I say, and you listen, at least you did until now.
(I do remember once when you were a baby, weeks home from the hospital. You were so tiny, like a Sharpei, and the sounds you made so sharp. I was tired I told myself, tell myself still, and you would not stop with that mewling screaming scrawl over and over, what did you want? Your face screwed up tight and red before you could even produce tears. I hardly knew you so I punched the bed as hard as I could. Just BAM! Like that, a foot from where you lay, both of us new and nothing right.)

Who am I anyway? Mom to a girl who tells on herself, that's who. Lately you cry a lot, stub your toe and wail in a voice that is so Outside I'm surprised to see we are surrounded by walls. What do you want? I ask, what's wrong? Your face mad red, fat tears running down your cheeks. And I feel it, that blunt block wedged in my throat full of hot and fuck and rage. Stop! I say, or Time Out! Shh! Hissed sharp and mean. I'm tired, not used to difficult, and here's the truth of it: I'm the one being an asshole. Not you (though you may want to re-think that whole nap thing). Me. The mom whose girl is good and growing. Because one day we will argue about something else, something more, and you will cry and I still won't know what you want. Are you tired? Are you hungry? Are you hurt? And you won't tell me either because you won't know or you won't want to, because telling me is not your job. Who knows--I will probably cry, too, one of a thousand times that we won't understand each other, using Outside voices for an Inside job. And for this I am sorry, but I promise you now, at 4 without naps, that I can handle this. You. This is who I am: learning to take a deep breath. Whatever walls we build, we are building them together. Because this is our Home, and I am your Mama.

Love,
Me

27 comments:

Rhonda said...

Love this! Thank you for being a Blogger willing to be candid and real.

Rosalie said...

Aw. Now I'm all teary. And thinking to myself, I've got exactly 70 nap weeks and counting before I too may be in the same boat--if not already!
Xo
Ro

mosey said...

This resonates so deeply. I'm the asshole too, much too often. My latest solution is when I feel the top of my head about to blow off, or try to untwist my tongue for some clever parental response, I just say "let's have a snack". And we sit down and eat crackers and cheese. And most times, all becomes right.

Tess said...

I love this. You're a brilliant writer Susannah!! :)

jennifer said...

ha, I'm the asshole, too. although I am starting to develop my far away stare and my quiet place is somewhere so deep that I can no longer be heard from the outside.
both my girls stopped napping at 2. they both just refused. I don't nap anymore was the declaration and they meant it. not even lulled in the car, never even groggy.
I like mosey's cracker idea, i'll have to try that.

emily b. said...

this is one of my favorite of your posts. it is so raw and honest and unsentimental yet so full of love. which is a hard thing to do. which makes you awesome :)

xo, em

Only A Girl said...

I so relate to this. You did a fantastic job of putting it into words.

shannon said...

Your letters to Zoey never fail to make me cry. I'm not a mother but I've been an au pair and I know what it feels like to be an asshole when the kid is just dealing with emotions (s)he can't understand.

I meant to go back and comment again yesterday that this:

http://petuniafacedgirl.blogspot.com/2010/04/4.html

is another favorite. I had forwarded it to my mom and sister for it's beauty and because I wanted to make them cry (like I did, a lot). Thank you for speaking to the emotions we ourselves can't quite understand, and certainly can't express the way you do.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, you got it just right. That whiny, sensitive, you-can't-say-anything-right mood. My 4 1/2 year old is there too. And I tell myself each day to be more patient and less of an asshole. Sometimes I do better, sometimes I don't.

ZDub said...

Just perfect. As always.

And Outside Voices for an Inside Job? LOVE.

greetings from greenwood said...

I needed this today. LOVED it. Beautiful, honest,
and heartfelt. I had to pull the car over today and yell at my foursome. Sometimes it is just sucky in momville and it is good to share.

thevioletpear said...

Oh the four year old. Don't they say this age is the first adolescence? It sure feels that way, but I don't even want to know what the second one is like! My 4.5 yr old is the same. Although he stopped taking naps awhile ago, he wakes up at 5am sometimes, and by 5pm is so tired he gets crabby and angry and won't eat dinner and I'm so tired by that point I don't care! It's that red angry screaming running to his room and slamming the door face I love, right? Love this post. So true.

Petunia Face said...

Thank you everyone. I had not heard that 4 is the first adolescence, though it makes perfect sense in the face of the kook that has become my daughter. Sweet Jesus, you all better hope I don't have a blog in ten years! If I do, there is no telling what I will write about (or how often).

xo,
S

Simply Mel said...

you are the best...asshole and all.

Jules said...

Yeah, we are having the same kind of week, it seems. I agree with Zach--love the outside voice for an inside job

Mary Bo Berry said...

Beautiful. You're such a talented writer - you blow me away. Hope today is better!

Mary

Buff said...

Ok, Im a little nervous because I have never posted a comment before, but your "letter" is...moving, poignant, truthful, honest and as another commenter said, full of love. I was looking in the mirror today (something that mothers of young children don't do as much as they should or used to) and I had "a moment." I didn't see me, I saw my mother, or more to the point, the person looking back at me looked the just like the very first memory I have of my mother. Woof! Rough stuff. Turning point?

Anonymous said...

The asses are the people that suggest 4-5 year olds don't need a nap. omg. Some kids NEED to nap thru 1st grade. I have one that didn't need them and another that did. ugh. I feel for you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is so beautiful. I read it several times. It was the perfect read for me after a long day of back to school shopping with my now 12 year old daughter. Talk about drama! I love the line,

And you won't tell me either because you won't know or you won't want to, because telling me is not your job.

You are an amazingly talented writer. You have quite a gift, sincerely. I cried when reading this. Of course, that might be beacuse I also have an infant and I myself am very tired. Either way, you are great!

Tina

Shannon said...

Your words always encourage. This thing we were made to do, this being a mother, although never easy, is always, and forever worth it.
~S

Jen said...

That was very poignant and beautiful and blah, blah, blah, but 4 without naps SUCK and I can definitely sympathize. I feel your pain, sister.

krista said...

damn you. this one got me. as i deal with a toddler who has taken to railing at injustices such as enforced bedtime and naturally green food. and sometimes she cries and i just don't get it. or i just can't help and i hate it.

Maggie May said...

i love this. i totally get it.

xo

my favorite and my best said...

**sigh**
i am so going through this right now.
i loved that you called her an asshole.
bc frankly i call mine an asshole under my breath all the time. and she is.
the most disrespectful asshole of them all.
on the daily i get: "be quiet!" "go away" "stop talking to me" and "give it to me....NOW!!!" at least 14 times a day each. it is painful and it makes me tired and want to run away. far away. or at least to a cold, dark movie theater. until i feel clean again and ready to handle it all over again.
thanks for sharing.

Michelle M in KY said...

OH SUSANNAH...

There are times that I think you see right into my soul. Thanks for sharing and for being so honest. You so eloquently capture a lot of our inner thoughts and then are so generous as to let us comment on them. It's refreshing to know that I am NOT the only one who has used asshole under her breath and then thought she was the REAL asshole in the room.

sweetbittertart said...

...there are so many of your posts that I love and have moved me (I'll go back and check), but this one ranks right up there. You are an amazing writer, person, mom, wife - I'm so honored to know you and be a part of your community. :)

Kwana said...

I love this so much. I used to try to play "the sleeping game" with my twins on the weekend until they were 5. I hardly ever worked though.