Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm the Sheep that Raised My Kids

How do you forgive yourself? I mean, after you go through the steps of self forgiveness? Pray about it, ‘let it go’, know that you did the best you could, ask for forgiveness, try to be a better person…. yada, yada, yada. The thing for me about forgiving myself is that most days, I do feel that I have forgiven myself. But then there are the other days.
You can fuck over every person in the world and find a way to forgive yourself. But if you did the wrong thing as a parent, it’s something that is so, so hard to let go of. And possibly, we are not suppose to let go of it. It may be the thing that keeps us doing the right thing because of the memory of doing the wrong thing.
To add to the complication of the wreckage that is my life, I have to really be careful not to live in the ‘I’m a bad parent’ world too much because the kids will feed on that. They will allow me to carry their mistakes by saying that they make them because of the horror that was their childhood. ‘I am the way I am because of the way you raised me’. If I had a nickel.
There was some bad stuff. Bad choices, bad memories, crazy, insane, drunken chunks of time. Bad, bad stuff. I guess what makes it hard to forget is that the kids remind me about it, usually, during a disagreement. So it’s hard to bury it when the kids are holding shovels.
Lately, it’s all just too much. On one hand I feel guilt. On the other hand I feel, honestly, like I don’t give a shit. I feel like, okay, I was a bad mother. Give me the tattoo, or the final grade, and let’s just say it is what it is so I can stop torturing myself. It’s all true. I did all those things. I’ve done what I can to make it right. The thing is that when you are the one that was wrong it’s not up to you when the people on the other end decide to put down the shovel. It’s up to them. And until they do, I feel like I can’t shake this feeling. And it’s not as if they don’t have the right to feel what they feel. They do. But am I allowed to bail out of the feelings without permission? To say, okay, hang on to that as long as you need to, but I have shit to do and naps to take? I can’t spend the rest of my life feeling like a failure. I have to move on.
If I move on and say your stuff is yours, that may be the thing that makes some of the insanity stop. You know, when you have to claim your own choices, you try and curb it. When you say, ‘I do this shit because of my parents’, it’s easy to keep doing it. But when you have to say, ‘I did this because I made this choice and have no one to blame but myself’, carrying the weight of your actions makes you want to stop making those choices. But I’m thinking that the kids aren’t going to come to that until I stop feeding in to the ‘my childhood was bad’ routine. Until the day that I say, ‘Yeah. My childhood sucked too. Everyone’s did.’
I myself did not grow up on a fairy boat. And still, I have gotten a thing or two done in my life. I am a published author and I can’t even fucking spell. So I’m going to pull myself up, and you pull yourself up, and this is how the day will look. Some days will be great. Some days will suck. I will make more mistakes and so will you. But we can wake up everyday and do the best we can.
I still don’t think I have figured out how to forgive myself. The plan is that I will start with a nap, and then go from there. When we get married they have that line where the priest says, ‘In good times and in bad times, in sickness and in health’. They say that because marriage is a forever concept. It’s a shame we don’t get that deal as parents. All we know as parents is that the nurse hands you the baby and she may as well say, “Don’t fuck this up.” Well, I fucked it up. So where do we go from here? I have no idea. But I will figure something out when I wake up.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Swear on mom

My mother in law passed away about fifteen years ago. All my life I have heard people say, 'Swear to god'. Or, 'Swear on the bible'. If you swear on God or the bible, it is suppose to mean that even the most habitual liar would crumble. Jesus has the power to make the roof fall in on your head and kill you for the lie. You could say to someone, "Are you sure he is telling the truth?" "He swore on the bible." Ah. End of story.
My husband and his family have a whole different twist to forcing the truth out of a person. Swear on mom.
In my husbands family you do not lie if you are swearing on mom. You just don't do it.
It's usually my husbands sister Cheryl. Everyone will be arguing back and forth and then Cheryl's voice rises above the crowd and she brings the hammer down, "Swear on mom!"
The room becomes abruptly quiet. You can hear a pin drop. The wind begins to blow and the sky turns black. Sometimes, you can hear scary ghost noises in the background. The lights flicker. She puts her hands on her hips and stares in to the accused's eyes. "Swear on mom." He lowers his head and contemplates his choices. Either, tell the truth and remind people that you are an idiot. Or, swear on mom. The pressure of telling the truth is so intense if you decide to swear on mom, you get confused and begin confessing every lie you've ever told.
Cheryl takes a step toward the hostage and asks again. This time in a firm, confident voice. "Swear. On. Mom."
The big fat liar does not lift his head but he does lift his eyes. After a deafening silence he says, "I colored my hair." And the crowd goes crazy. Swear on mom worked again. And is he serious? Did he really think no one would notice that he looks like Elton John?
I love my sister in law Cheryl. She is one of my top two 'go to' people to get something done. But there are people who lie, and there are people that tell the truth no matter what. They say, "Hey! It's the truth!" Cheryl tells the truth. She will look at someone and say, "Are you serious with that shirt? Did you just get off the Love Boat?" She's like an insult comic but she's not on stage, she's in her kitchen. But unlike an insult comic she will actually wait for an answer. "Hello! Did you play shuffle board with Captain Stubbing and Julie? Was Gopher there?"
I didn't have the swear on mom deal in my family. We did the traditional, 'If you tell a lie Jesus will know and you will burn in hell for eternity'. So we lied all the time. I mean, define hell? And when is that going to happen if it actually happens? I think I'll stick with my story.
I grew up in constant threat of the horrifying things Jesus was going to do to me if I sinned. If you ever question if something is a sin, if it's awesome and fun, it's a sin. Then at a young age I figured something out. I could go to confession and confess all those sins and the slate would be wiped clean. So why not live my life like hell on wheels? Then, right before I pass away I will get everything forgiven and go to heaven with the suckers that didn't put two and two together with the clean slate deal. This is actually how I currently live.
Some people start out with the truth and then the jazz the story up to such a level that it becomes a lie. They add some really gross descriptions and say someone was screaming, "Help me! Tell my children I love them!" While they twirled around in a parking lot engulfed in flames. Really? You saw that? Then they continue to add, "Then the flame from her dress lit a truck on fire and it exploded. There were three people in the truck and a cat." Wow. What actually happened was there was a garbage can in front of the store that was smoking and an employee walked out and dumped a bucket of water on it.
Then there is the omitting of the truth. I have mastered this. What I like to do when someone asks me something I don't want to answer is say, "Excuse me? I didn't hear you." This gives me time to think while they ask again.
One of the biggest lies I tell is about food. Me and my daughters go to expensive restaurants and then when my cell phone rings, and it's my husband, I say we are at McDonald's. We all know to say this. He says, "I don't know how you guys can stand to eat at McDonald's so much." I say, "Excuse me? I didn't hear you."
We all lie about one thing or another. Does my ass look fat? Do you like my new hair color? Do I look old? Did you try to poison me? All day long.
I will do anything to avoid hurting someones feelings, even if I have to lie. I will lie to say something to someone that is not true so they will be happy. If I get a grouchy checker in the grocery store, I will tell her how beautiful she is. Even if she looks like Shrek.
I have sworn on the bible, swore to God, pinky promised, swore on mom. All those times I was telling the truth. Mostly. Okay, sometimes. Whatever, rarely.
I tell the truth when it matters. To me. And only if I am guaranteed that no conflict will come from my confession. I will tell the truth when it is not going to make me look bad. I will be singing a song and if I don't know the words to part of the song, I will pretend I'm busy during that part. Or I'll yawn or cough. As if I'm saying, "I know the words, it's just that I'm yawning right now."
So yeah. Honesty is the foundation that I've built my life on. Honesty and dirt. Mainly dirt.