Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Wish I Could Take it Back

I blew my stack this morning. I came unhinged. Everything was cool right up until just about the time we were gathering things up to walk out the door - or rather I was gathering things and getting ready to walk out the door. Aries was still dinking around in the bathroom.

She wanted a braid in her hair. She kept wanting to get back to a drawing on which she was working, one that I thought she had finished the night before. She still hadn't brushed her teeth. All the while getting exasperated with me because I didn't want to use her choice of the earrings I was going to wear today. Apparently I “never value [her] opinion and never listen to [her].”

As it turns out, her class is studying the moon - New Moon to New Moon - a one month project. Each night they are to observe the moon, etc., write about it, what it made you think about, how it made you feel, any questions you may have about it and draw a quick picture to accompany your notes. The picture she stayed up late drawing last night she had completely erased because it "wasn't good enough." Unbeknownst to me, this is why she was pushing to get back to her artwork this morning.

As we walked out the door 10 minutes late (I DETEST being late) and got into the car, I could hear her taking her artwork out of her backpack. When I glanced back, that's when I realized she had erased the perfect drawing she had drawn the night before.

I lost it.

It was a combination of the chaos that became our morning and realizing that she had put herself under the gun because she's not to work on this particular project at school.

I felt my temper creep up my spine as I tried to calm myself. I tried to remind myself it wasn't all her fault. My loose boundaries and treating her like she was older than eight years old was what got me in trouble. I needed to be stern and keep her on track. I failed - which made me only more pissed off.

The word vomit started. The "dammit, this isn't happening again" speech. The "no TV in the morning until you're ready for school" speech. The "I can't believe you erased all of your artwork from the night before, what were you thinking" speech. The "7:20, Aries, I want to leave this house by 7:20" speech.

I let her have it. When all the while, I was really letting myself have it and clearly using the wrong forum to do so.

She sat in the back seat working on her drawing, taking in my words like a seasoned adult. She's seen my temper before. I hate my temper. It's short and I usually do well controlling it, but it's a trait inherent to the bloodline in my family and at times it finds its way out through the weakest point - through that one thread that has loosened itself enough to start to unravel.

I looked at her and realized my words were piercing her heart. She wasn’t displaying the pain but the hurt she was feeling struck me and wrapped around me like a hurricane wind. What the hell was I thinking. This was no way to communicate my point to my little girl.

I stopped. I couldn’t speak. I turned on the stereo in the car and listened to some Patty Griffin. I searched for a way to make it right but the damage had been done. My behavior was a disgrace. She’s eight. Hell, I work with adults at work who don’t know how to take me and here I was dumping on Aries.

I finally found the words to apologize. I explained to her that she knows how I am in the morning and this isn’t new information. That we need to work together to be successful in getting out the door in the morning.

She said nothing.

I pulled up in front of the school and she grabbed her bag. I told her to have a good day knowing damn good and well I had fucked it up for her. What started out as a good day was now smothered by me being mad at her. I am her balance. I am the one consistent thing in her life. I am the one with whom she feels truly safe and I had just been mean to her.

I was a Mean Girl. A bitch.

She shut the car door without saying a word and glanced over her left shoulder giving me the eight year old version of the “fuck you” evil eye.

I rolled down the passenger window. “Aries…Try to have a good day. I’m sorry.”

She took three steps away from the car, stopped, turned and just looked at me – her spirit broken. My heart hit the floor. I could see the emotion finding its way out. “Mommy, can I please have a hug.”

By the time I opened my car door, she was standing there with tears welled up in her green eyes. She told me she was sorry. I said the same. I tried to tell her it wasn’t all her fault and that I should have handled things differently – but that’s not how an eight year old mind works. All she knew was that I was mad and it was her fault.

I told her we’d do something special tonight, just she and I, and that everything was okay.

She headed up the stairs to her school, tears still overwhelming her.

If I could, I would take it all back. Every single quick-tempered word I spoke to her this morning. But I can’t. All I can do is exist inside this feeling of letting her down – of hurting the one person that I love more than life itself.

I want this day to be over so I can go home and hold my little girl and love her. I need to see that smile in her eyes that she always has, that one special look that I know is just for me.

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