Monday, February 8, 2010

taking sides

This morning, or should I say in the middle of last night, Jack came into my room. 4am—that's more morning to me but I could go either way. He'd had a really bad dream and was afraid to get back in bed. Every once in awhile that happens—I can see, hear how shaken up he is. So, I asked if he wanted to sleep with us for the rest of the night, knowing I won't really sleep with him there. I haven't been sleeping well lately. To be honest, I never sleep well but, when I'm fighting a cold, I wake up several times a night, throat parched and scratchy, desperate for water and a nose that isn't clogged. Come to think of it, I think this was the second time in 2 or 3 days Jack showed up. Last Thursday or Friday was a mess, I was so down on sleep. And I can't even remember when. Speaking of not remembering—yesterday I tried to use my credit card and found there was a fraud block on it. After spending 45 minutes on the phone with a lovely but befuddled representative, having her cancel my card, start a fraud investigation based on charges I'd thought weren't mine, I realized they were all at my supermarket. I couldn't put together money I'd spent, where I'd been. I was staring blankly at my calendar, not able to piece my days together.

Back to the story at hand. Jack climbed in and Jon uttered quite an audible, "no." Actually it was more like, "NO! I haven't been sleeping all night and I can't sleep with him here!"

My heart pounded. Had Jack heard him? He often felt self-conscious about being scared, needing me to help him through. Was he feeling rejected, not wanted, bad? I tucked him in tight, wrapped him in fuzzy blankets, stroked his head and he was asleep in seconds. Jon too. Me? Of course not. After laying there, thinking for awhile, I slept until 5:30, then 6:30 before I got up at 7. That started the stream of accusations and venom spewing from my older one, as I woke her up, but that's not today's story.

In that moment, of Jack's pain and Jon's frustration, I chose my child. And, as I lay there, sandwiched tightly between the two of them, I realized if I had to, I think I'd always choose my child. Is that ok? Is that what other people would do? Does that say something important or negative about my marriage? I've been married for 21 years. Jon is my rock, my support, my best friend. I am still, after all this time, happy to see him every day and ever grateful for this life we've built together from 2 broken home kids, each reeling from parental divorce when we met. But, when those moments come, I don't choose him.

He's a grownup. He can take care of himself. He's got a fierce temper that, when it's showing, I feel the need to protect people from. Too much, I sometimes think. The wrath of a parent isn't necessarily bad. In fact, I think it can often be constructive. I don't do wrath. I do outrage, frustration, being fed up. It takes an awful lot to truly infuriate me. Jon gets there in the blink of an eye. He thinks letting them know, in black and white terms, is positive. I'm more the fuzzy pillow approach which often works well but not all the time. If there's one battle we have, it's that.

He draws lines, lays down absolutes. And then doesn't follow through on them. We've created countless rules which I'm blamed for not seeing through. We're in the middle of another one—parental controls on computers. Yes, it's a good idea but it's up to me to impliment. I have to figure out how to save everything they've done, transfer it over to another user . . . huge job I don't know how to do. And since I haven't jumped on the bandwagon, I'm taking all the heat for both failing and for them playing too much. Maybe I balk so hard at his anger towards them because I know how much it hurts me.

Maybe I take their side because I imagine them to be extensions of me.

But, they're often stronger than me. They fight back. He gets pissed. I intervene. We fight. I could learn lessons from them about standing up for myself. I'm terrible at that. I fold right away and then sob, sure I'm worth of all criticism dumped on me.

I know life isn't about someone always smoothing things over, making it easier, holding you tight when you're scared and hurting. But, for my chicks, I'll do that as long as I can.

Maybe I'm still wishing someone would do that for me.

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