This morning I took the girls to my friend's house so they could spend the day there while I was at work, this being Veteran's Day. She runs a day care from her house, and so the girls got to help her wrangle what looked to me to be something like fifty seven babies. We were sitting under an overpass, waiting for the light to change, when Sophie turned to Willow and said, What did YOU have for dinner last night? Willow said, Raviolis, root beer, and ice cream. What did YOU have? I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Sophie look at Willow, Steak and fries, she said, with this vaguely threatening, level delivery. And I sat there, mildly panicked from being parked underneath an overpass** and thought that it was sort of a sad thing that my girls were comparing the dinners they'd each had at their (different) dad's houses the night before.
I realized that I was halfway expecting my usual inner dialogue of criticism and insults to begin, but I just wasn't motivated to put myself down. The girls went from having a sort of a showdown over which dad had the best dinner to being silly and laughing at something I can't remember now. Then the light changed, and we passed by two telephone lines running over a creek, and the girls both pointed and exclaimed over the long, long rows of birds perched on the wires. Did you see that? they kept asking each other. I wish I had my camera, Sophie said, I'd take a picture! And just as I was noticing how nice it was that I could listen to them talk about their not-perfect life and not beat myself up over it, I also heard them laughing and I realized that they're still happy kids, despite the way things are.
I think that what kept me from beating myself up wasn't only the fact that my kids are actually okay (because, believe me, if you are prone to the self-hate, you don't really need a reason) but it's got a whole lot to do with this new life I am making. I work hard. I'm doing everything I can, as well as I can. I'm happy. I'm suddenly able to cut myself some slack and appreciate what I accomplish every day. Now I just need to be sure that I don't kick myself too hard for not being more gentle with myself sooner. Heh.
**I'm not sure what that phobia of mine is called (I HATE tunnels and being under overpasses), but while I was doing a half-assed job of looking for the name, I found the following:
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia – fear of the number 666
Nomophobia – fear of being out of mobile phone contact
Paraskavedekatriaphobia – fear of Friday the 13th
Chemophobia - prejudice against artificial substances in favour of 'natural' substances