“He who makes a beast of himself avoids the pain of being a man.” Dr. Johnson
Loneliness is a human condition. I used to walk around wondering why more people didn’t connect on this primal level. “I’m lonely, you’re lonely—lets’s be less lonely together”. Instead of mining the layers of insecurity and vulnerability that would require that sort of connection, we flail about and fear to share our true selves even when it comes to longtime companions and spouses. While I still feel this way about loneliness, at a different stage in my life I have come to see a new trait that doesn’t get shared—the parent as monster. And the rage of parenting freaks me out.
I grew up in a joy filled but emotionally charged household. There was a lot of laughter but there was also equal amount of rage. My father was very good at rage and not very good at communicating post rage. That often left me alone to deal, but on the whole of it I consider myself very lucky.
And while I have done my best to work through some of the stuff of life before I took on the big job of parenting, I am still humbled in the face of the commitment on a daily basis. I am most amazed by the ability of my children to push my buttons.
When it comes to my work I have more patience than I ever thought possible. I never get frustrated with students or clients and the space I have for people is genuine. I am there to serve those I work with and for and I do my job accordingly. When it comes to my children it is another story entirely.
One of my main memories of childhood is people coming up to me to tell me how wonderful my mother was, what a wonderful person etc. And not to say she wasn’t, she truly was/is. But at the same time, these people only saw one part of her—the very composed and lovely public side. I vowed to myself then that I would be different if and when the opportunity ever arose.
Well, here I am raging at my children at home and putting on a controlled face in public. There is nothing physical about the rage—it is purely verbal and emotional—but it is fierce and powerful. I’d like to think that the main difference between me and my dad is that I dialogue with my kids post rage. I explain to them my frustration and apologize for who I am and hope that serves them in some way.
Maybe there are parents that don’t express anger the way I do, and never get frustrated by their children, but I just can’t imagine how. It is just such hard work. So the point of this is to hopefully allow parents to commune on this level, “I am a beast, you’re a beast. Let’s be less beastly together.”
Or something like that.