Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Hangover

It's like that time when I partied with Jose.  Or that other time when the Absolut and I went around the dance floor one too many times.

Hung Over.

Except this was different.

This involved my heart.  And her heart.  And just like the times when I've indulged too much on the spirits, I have felt the ache in my head and the pit  in my stomach for more than a day now.

I never wanted to be a mom who yelled or screamed.  And I haven't been.  I am happy to report that I usually maintain control when dealing with my kids.   I can be firm,  I can be stern, but I've never crossed the line to being mean.

My teenager told me I was being mean.  Yelled it at me.  She was probably right.  But...

How can she not know how tired I am of this issue?  How can she not see the white flag that hangs out of my pocket, asking to be raised at any moment?  When do I get to lay my head down at night with peace, knowing that she is responding to my parenting, to my role in her life?

I let the words fly.  I didn't edit or revise.  Days, months, years in the past, when this issue has previously come up I somehow had the grace in my heart to hold back.  Not now.  It needed to be louder... this time.  It needed to be forceful.  I needed to scream it so she heard it... this time.  It was ugly, and it was awful.  I hated every second, and I couldn't stop.  I felt an urgency to make her understand my exhaustion from this cyclical behavior.  There was an intensity pushing my forward into a world of thoughts and words that had never been expressed.  I had been pushed too far, too many times and this time...  I exploded.    
I've loathed myself.  I've confessed to both she and the Lord.  I've cried and prayed.  My heart is still hurting over the things she said to me, retorts I hurled back at her.  But why am I the only one apologizing?  Who cares about the bruises on my mother-ego?

Days later, I'm hungover.  With doubt and with regret; experiencing the unpleasant, symptoms of the
S-word.  Shame.

Shame that I could fail so badly.  Shame that I could feel so un-loving towards my child.  Shame that I feel hatred and sadness and failure.  Shame that I didn't handle things better. Shame that I'm not a more equipped mom, more spiritual in my expressions, more self-controlled when tempted to lose it.

 I expect so much of myself.  I expect that I won't ever get out of control and say things I will regret.  I expect that I will continue to put on a happy face even when I'm angry and disappointed and frustrated.  Everyone has a breaking point. Everyone can only be pushed so far before they crack wide open.  My high expectations of myself are the strength of my mothering - I don't crack very often.  I always tell myself "You've been through much harder things than a kid's disobedience".  So I pull myself up by my bootstraps and handle things "gracefully".  "Perfectly".  Well, that's a facade as flimsy as a snowflake, revealing the greatest weakness of my mothering - I want to be the perfect mom.  I want to hit home-runs in every conflict, win blue-ribbons in every battle.  I know the foolishness of my lofty goals.  I understand the ridiculous efforts behind my desire.  Yet I still try. Failure isn't an option.  Or at least it wasn't until now.  Today, I realize that actually, I can fail.  I can fall.  I can blow it.  I can reach the end of my rope because God's Word promises that my end was always the place that He wanted me at.  He wants me at my weakest, so that He can show up with His strength.  Because THIS is where the grace resides.  Not in MY perfection, but in HIS.  In fact, 2 Corinthians 12:9 says that "His power is made perfect in weakness."  It doesn't say that His power is made in MY perfection.  That perfection is a phantom place of lies and pride and sin,  where I feel FAKE power and FAKE strength.  That isn't what I want.  What I want is God's REAL power and strength coming to me in my weakest, most honest place of need.

By God's grace, my hangover is gradually subsiding.  I am finding comfort in the wisdom of others, the healing of love, and the benefit of time passing. My girl and I are going to be okay.   I hope to take this awful experience and learn some new things about conflict, about myself, about my kids.   I hope to take what happened between my daughter and I and use it to revamp my skewed expectations of myself as well as handle things more calmly next time.  Because I know that I will be here again.   I also know that God's love and power will be here again and again.  It won't run out.  "That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10