The expression on Violet’s face when I say the wrong thing. Today the wrong thing was suggesting she turn her sweater around. It was backwards and I thought it would be more comfortable if she turned it around. She took the suggestion as a criticism. Then I got sensitive myself and tried to probe this fraught moment between us with a series of questions: What’s happening? Are you angry? Why are you making that sound??
Upon reflection I realize that the best parenting methodology for this moment was: Shut up and move on, Rebecca. (Possibly the best strategy for most situations.) When I finally picked up my crushed parent ego, I made Violet some toast and we put it behind us.
But I found this note: See the broken heart, the mommy and “me” on opposites sides of the line. The arrow beside the X seemingly pointing toward the mommy! Thank God for art, paper, pencils, self-expression.
Last night I had to go read in the bathroom so I wouldn’t bother Simon with the light of my Kobo. I was deeply absorbed in the The School For Good Mothers and had to finish it before I could sleep. When I yelled out, “This is the saddest book I have ever read!” and his only answer was a delicate snore, I knew that it was my cue to exit the bedroom.
The School For Good Mothers is set in a dystopian world and revolves around 39 year old Frida, who has a “very bad day” and leaves her toddler alone in the house for three hours. The police are called and Frida is taken away to a rehabilitation centre with other faulty mothers. At the school they’re made to practice their mothering on robot dolls and told to recite this refrain ad nauseam: “I’m a bad mother, but I’m trying to be good.” When the mothers meet the fathers who are rehabilitating at the adjacent men’s facility, they discover that the fathers have been treated much less harshly. For example, the dads are given an hour of FaceTime each week with their children back at home while Frida’s time with her daughter Harriet is routinely taken away as punishment.
The book looks at the question of who deserves to be a parent. Who has the right to police parents? What makes a good or bad parent? And how long do we pay for our mistakes? A heartbreaking read, but brilliantly told, particularly if you’re into dystopian pain!!
Someone said I talk a lot about fear in this newsletter. And my first response was, pshaw, no I don’t. But then I went, what if I do? And then I went, oh yes, I think I might, even if it’s not directly. It’s an underlying theme that infuses my thinking and writing. You can’t always choose your themes. Some of them just keep appearing…creeping up on you, like my kids when they scare me for fun! I want to be positive and easy going. Badly. It’s an ongoing struggle to accept the fearful part of myself. I’m other things too, I know. But I’m also part fear.
You know what helps? Writing. Looking around. Which is what I’m trying to do here. Getting curious. Reflecting. Finding what’s interesting in a week. It helps keep the fear at bay. Magic of the mundane. Even the clothes I choose—they’re a decision about how I interact with the world. Today I’m interacting in Simon’s shirt and fluorescent pink bicycle shorts. Amen.
I’m a fearful mother. But I’m trying to be brave.
This week on the podcast I interview Youtube stars Jessii Vee and her sister Mandii Vee. Jessii’s first ever podcast she says. If you watched my show Running With Violet, you’ll remember Jessii—or “Frankie!” Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our Sister On! newsletter for recipes and Sister On! news.
In other news, my dad is doing sending out a spiritual quotations on Mondays.
And Simon is sketching.
Something that adults forget is that kids are sensitive because everything is new to them, so everything is pretty intense. I recently had an interaction with a seven-year-old who had bumped his elbow and it made him cry. But as an adult, bumping my elbow wouldn't make me cry, so I was momentarily confused until I remembered being a child and hitting the "funny bone" in my elbow and it feeling pretty awful. I realized that if that was his first time feeling that, it probably was pretty upsetting. Basically everything feels more intense in kids.
wow, that novel sounds interesting! and cool pink shorts :)