Hindsight Parenting: Laughing the Storm Away
I’m Afraid of the Wind
I am afraid of the wind. I am not talking about that pesky kind of breeze that always seems to pop up when one is getting out of a pool or a dip in the lake. I am talking about howling, barreling, blow-me-down kind of wind. In the past, whenever we had a gale, whether connected to a storm or not, I would cower, I would cross my arms and hug myself tightly. I’d sigh loudly and ask my husband repeatedly to look outside to make sure that no tree branches had fallen (or worse) no trees were keeling over and heading towards our roof. Many times, during storms, I’d yell to the boys to get downstairs to the basement and stay far away from the windows. Huddled in the center of the room, ears perked for the crackling sound of pine trees splintering all over the neighborhood, I’d be in full on panic mode.
During these blustery moments, I wasn’t the only one participating in the frenzy fest. Nope. My boys would join me, mimicking the same emotions that dear old mama was displaying. And why not? I was the parent in these moments. I was supposed to be reassuring, the soothing voice of safety. But instead, I was too wrapped up in my own phobic feelings to recognize that I was creating in my children the very same neuroses by not concealing my anxiety. To this day (although neither would admit it) my children are not too fond of summer storms or blustery fall days, and the fault lies purely with their mom.
Unfortunately, my fear of wind wasn’t the only emotion I put on full display for my children to witness. I guess you could say I was a “wear your heart on your sleeve” kind of girl. But there were repercussion for being an emotional wreck in front of those boys. The worst I think was the fact that they didn’t trust my reactions to strife, and so they hid, shielded me from things that I just might “freak out” about. But there were many other effects as well. Since I wasn’t one who hid her frustrations, fears, anger, depression, those boys felt very entitled to express the same kinds of things…and they did it in a much more forceful manner. To put it simply, my neuroses turned into their neuroses. Knowing that…knowing full well that many of their fears, reactions and ways of looking at life came from my out loud living, I decided to try very hard to never place that burden on Ila.
I got my very first test of that this past week. Our beloved dog, Vixen, passed away this week, and oh how it hurt. Her kindness and unconditional love was a staple in this house of upheaval. The cavern of emptiness her absence left in the pit of my soul was unbearable. I wanted to curl up into a little ball and cry rivers of tears until my sorrow was drowned. But then I thought of Ila. In her short two years, she has experienced an inordinate amount of love loss. Without going into too much detail, familial staples have just disappeared, and in her little mind they’ve disappeared without explanation. And bless her soul, she’s adjusted each time, trying to wrap her developing mind around the deep and wounding feeling of missing someone…of missing lots of someones. And so, instead of wallowing in my own emotional pain, I decided to be a parent. Concerned that the dog’s disappearance would be another blow to her life’s view of loving and losing, I put on my stiffest upper lip and pretended for her that everything was ok in our little world on Reservoir Dr.
Has she asked about Vixen’s whereabouts? Yes, just today she looked at me and said, “Doggie?” and although I wanted to wrap my arms around her and ask if she missed her, although I wanted to cry and expose the throbbing chasm of heartache, I knew…hindsight reminded me…that my emotion would soon become hers. So instead, I smiled (yes perhaps it was a forlorn smile, but a smile no less) and I said to her, “Oh Ila, the dog went to heaven where she won’t be sick anymore. Isn’t that wonderful? No more boo boos for Vixy!”
“No more boo boos?” She said hopefully.
“No no more boo boos.” And for a moment I thought that I saw a gray cloud streak across that angelic face. But whatever it was, it passed as quickly as it came. She nodded her head as if she understood and then told me that she had to go potty. I laughed…a good and healing laugh, and as I took her hand to walk down the hall towards the bathroom, Ila laughed too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) Elvis Kennedy]