Sunday, April 13, 2008

Future perfect

Back from Brisbane, I spent a few hours today in the garden. Spreading muck, sowing some broad beans, lettuce and broccoli, but mostly planting flowers: 60 mixed iris, sweet peas and Queen Anne's Lace, to keep company with the multitude of freesias, the 100 ranunculas, last year's daffodils and the 140 tulips still sitting in the vegetable crisper. If the plans unfurl in the way I hope, we will drift in colour for months.

Anyone who writes about gardening can't help but state that the planting of seeds is an act of faith; no matter how simple the science, there's something quite surprising in the green from the brown, the pink (or red, or yellow, or white) from the green. Today, the planting of flowers seemed even more a statement of hope than usual. When I think of that loveliness, it sits in a vase in our house - flowers in the garden are too far away for me. And in that image, the vase sits in a house that is serene, sharing space with a family that is happy and calm. A family, indeed, with a rather different emotional tenor to the one we shared today.

Today, Lucy behaved horribly, so horribly I can't quite remember a time when she did not (though I am almost sure that time was only about 48 hours ago). So horribly that is was all I - all we - could do not to scream at her, to hit out hard. Al and I don't physically punish the girls, and days like today strengthen that resolve despite - and because - we want so badly to smack her. On days like today that smack could only be vindictive. On days like today we come to the brink of something very harsh and I'm not sure what stops me - self-discipline perhaps, sometimes drifting into my happy place, a deep breath, screaming in my head, or the intervention of Al (who only fifteen minutes ago was in the same position). We're good and kind people, our own parents were great role models, we have a whole set of financial, social and emotional resources and still we come so close.

As a childless person I was blithely judgmental of any parent who hit their child in anger or laziness or frustration or resentment or any of the 100 other emotional states we are not meant to experience as parents, and to be honest I still often am. But my goodness, the only difference between me and those I judge is that my hand stops barely short.

I love my kids, it goes without saying. But sometimes I need to say it, to remind myself that it's true, and to hold on to that image of a vase of flowers in a happy home.

7 comments:

Kez said...

I think we all go there - just because we love our kids doesn't mean we always like them. Hold on to the flowers...

I read a post recently which suggests pretending they're not your kid so you can take a step back and treat them as if you were looking after them. Sometimes I pretend that there are other people around - I hate to admit it but I can sometimes treat my child a lot nicer in public than I do at home :(

Janet said...

yep, I've reached that point on occasion where I want to smack. At times it has been so bad, we've discussed whether we should, but always come back to thinking it's wrong and doesn't teach anything useful. So we do time out (sometimes more for me) and holding (when everyone just needs to move on). I certainly understand much more than I used to how parents come to smack and why.

Thank goodness for gardens.

Daisy said...

I agree with everything Kez just said. I have two little neices that get smacked willy nilly at any tantrum and they now expect it.Even their Nanna get in on it. Its horrid and when we witness this on visits-we leave. I was blessed with one very very good child but I just know that Master Nine Mths (Tyler) is going to be a little....Trying! He is so different from his sister. But today there is so much sadness and bad news stories that I thank the heavens that I was able to have children, healthy children and that when they are little shits, I take a deep breath and remind myself of this. We are so lucky to have horrible, healthy, gorgeous children aren't we. Hug her with gritted teeth love and make sure she gets a good education to get a fantastic job to pay for all your dental bills love! Well thats what I will be doing with Tyler, I'm sure!lol xoxo

innercitygarden said...

On the days when I really want to throw the kid out the window, I am very grateful for my Mum being so near by, and for the old friends, at least one of whom is usually available to take him away for half an hour or so while we reset.

For the fractionally less trying bad days, I find heading out in public is a good idea. If it doesn't work on distracting him, and altering his mood, it at least gives me some exercise and fresh air. That's harder once you're not getting the kid into a stroller though, and obviously it's useless if you're trying cook dinner or get the little bugger into pajamas. Focussing on the flowers is good. I tend to focus on the beer at the end of the day...

theysaywordscanbleed said...

children can be a handful most of the times, it makes me want to think really hard before i embark on that big responsibility. Good luck and may you have better days :)

Arlene,
Port Orchard florist

tamara said...

Oh I so hear you on the horribleness of kids sometimes. And on the temptation to just exercise our larger physical strength, just because we can.

Yay for you for being able to have that breath of space before lashing out. It is such an expansive space, I see it like a pause button, where you can actually see that vase of flowers, or the love for your child, despite whatever rattiness or ugliness is going on at the time.

Your garden sounds like it will be a lovely palette of colour throughout spring and summer. I'm only a stumbling, beginning gardener myself, so hold in awe people who know how things may look once flowering/planted etc. Such an inspiration!

280main said...

Kris, a most heartfelt thank you for this post. I remembered it today, in the midst of a very difficult day, and then thought of it often--it helped get me through calmly...