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  • Writer's pictureThe Other Mother

Forgiveness and Madness

I lost my shit today with my 4-year-old. The kind of blow-up where you rope in the partner and take a walk before you hit the kid moment. She is so willful and stubborn, but I know it's because I spoil her. I want her to have nice things but she loses interest in things too quickly and it makes me resentful. I know I need to stop, but she pushes me over and over. I never pushed my parents this much. That's a fucking lie, I'm sure I drove them crazy, but when I did there was a spanking. I don't hit my kids. I've come close though and I have had to walk the hell away before I did. This has been a bad week for our family, We lost my father-in-law and it feels like slipping into a fever dream. Life keeps moving and every moment of joy I have feels like a betrayal. He was too young to die and my kids are too young to appreciate the finality of it. Their needs and habits didn't stop when he died. It's almost like there is no room to grieve when your kids still need you every day and night. My husband is slipping back into depression and it's hard to see him suffer. Cherry on the cake is this fucking viral infection in my lip that makes it painful to talk or eat. We are having a SUPER fun week over here!

I don't want our kids to see us angry or be afraid of us. My father-in-law was pretty critical of my husband as a kid, but he loved me. He knew me for 20 years and the past 6 days have been too hard. I took two weeks off work to just be with the kids and our family, and I wonder if I will even return. It feels like the world has shifted and if I try to go "back to normal," it will make his death something routine, mundane. Just another event to mark on a calendar. Another asterisk on the family contact sheet. Just for context, my parents divorced in the mid-90s and that dad has a new family out of state. My mom remarried a very nice man who I loved. He died of cancer about 7 years ago. My father-in-law met me 20 years ago and he has loved me like a daughter since then. I know because he told me every day. Even when his son and I were not together for a while, he would still check on me and tell me he was there if I needed help. Now he is gone, but his voice is still playing in my head. I love teaching, but that job requires so much of my attention and energy, that my family gets the remnants of me. They see the tired and stressed-out mom so my students can stay engaged. Now I feel I need to put my energy towards my husband and my kids. This has to be some kind of cosmic signal for change, how could it not be? I want to do so many things in this life, the idea of returning to "normal" makes me angry.

That brings us full circle back to losing my shit with my toddler today. I told her I loved her even though I got mad, and I was sorry for yelling. I asked her to forgive me. She said, "I forgive you. love is forgiveness and madness." I shit you not. I wrote that down in my journal. Forgiveness and madness, what a unique way to think about love. I think I can apply that to my life as a parent. I know every day will be full of chaos, tantrums, and anger, but also with joy and hysteria, but at the end of the day I have to forgive myself for my mistakes. I will forgive my kids for pushing me. I will forgive my husband for shutting down from grief. I'm doing the best I can. I just miss my fucking dad.


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