Sunday, March 04, 2007

"My home life is unsatisfying"

I was thinking about Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. She had a great line that I remembered as "my home life is less than satisfying". I looked it up and it turns out it is actually "my home life is unsatisfying".

Well, that in itself is less than satisfying.

Sometimes my own home life seems less than satisfying. Raising kids is sometimes not enjoyable at all. I know, who said it was supposed to be satisfying? I think part of the problem is that work takes a lot out of me during the week and I end up looking forward to the weekends, perhaps unfairly. Too much pressure and expectation. In my mind, we'll all get along and have a fun time together. Where do I get that idea? In reality, my daughter, 12 going on 30, wants to spend nearly every waking moment with her friends. And I don't like her friends that much.

Why don't I like her friends? That might not be true. What could be true is that I don't know her friends well enough to trust them. This is a middle school phenomena. I knew the families in elementary school. Middle school has been so different. One family smokes pot. Now, I'm as liberal as the next person here in Boulder, but anyone who thinks it is cool for their 13 year old to be getting high is an idiot. So, am I not supposed to judge? I don't know, but I don't like my child going to their house. The other friends ALL have recently separated and divorced parents (not there's anything wrong with that?) but the consequence of it is low supervision. It seems to me that kids this age need the supervision and guidance more than ever. So they all go to the mall. Or hang out at Safeway. Safeway? what is up with that?

I suspect I may have a bias here because I was 12 when my own parents split up. And I was a mess. They were understandably involved with their own shit. So I was left to my own devices a lot. And to be fair, in many ways, they did an ok job with me. I'm pretty moral, ethical, and I value truth. But, as I like to say, I could have turned out better! I don't think I can blame them for that. But I can't say I have a strong "family" foundation. I am, and always have been, envious of those who do.

Also, I want to rip off the face of the earth. I do realize that five years ago, she'd just be on the phone doing the same stuff, so what's the difference?
I don't know. Maybe it's the godawful crap they all forward around to each other.

My son, who's 8, spends a lot of his time on the weekend with his friend playing Gamecube and Playstation. To the point where he doesn't want to leave the house to do anything. I make them get up and go outside and play periodically, and they do. But god forbid I want him to come with me somewhere. He might miss playtime with Sean!! He still has a lot of the innocence and little boy-ishness that is so sweet. He can generally self-monitor pretty well on the gaming stuff, unless his friends are over.

The truth is, I have no idea how to raise kids, be married and have a family. Most of the time, I'm kind of ok with faking it the best I can. But sometimes, not so much. I feel like a failure so much of the time.

I'll get over it. Every 6 weeks or so, I have to feel like crap, it seems. It's too bad. It really is bad when it hits.

Here's the thing that haunts me. When you grew up in the midst of layers of dysfunction and developed your own dysfunction to deal with it, and then you marry someone in the same boat, can you really shake it? Can you really stop it? Can the chain really be broken?

I remember reading the Wally Lamb book "I Know This Much is True" 6 years ago and getting on my knees and praying that I would stop the dysfunction. That somehow I could make it different for Dagny and Adrian. I don't know if I can. Maybe God can.

To quote Pete Townshend, I wish I knew.


Paul O'Brian said...

Ack. Sympathies.

You're not a failure. The failure thing is a sign of black-and-white thinking. Are you going to STOP the dysfunction, as in eradicate every trace of it so it will be completely absent? Of course not. But I very strongly believe you are decreasing the dysfunction quite a lot. That is good enough.

A bit of wisdom about marriage came into my life recently: it ebbs and flows. There are times when it's great, and times when it sucks. The trick is remembering during an ebb that a flow is coming. (And recognizing that if it sucks most of the time, something needs to be done.) This may be true about parenting as well.

Also, I read an extra comma into one of your sentences that made it much funnier: "I'm pretty, moral, ethical, and I value truth." ("And the truth is, I am pretty!")

Lucky Buck said...

Yikes! You're a busy little writer. I think that faking it is pretty much the way all GOOD parents do it. Especially the ones who want the improve on the model they were give by there folks.

Jeff H

trrish said...

hey Paul,

Yes, I like the re-punctuating result.

OK. I'm going to change my bumper sticker from STOP THE DYSFUNCTION to "Decrease the Dysfunction".

I think you are right - the parenting may ebb and flow as well.


Brad Wright said...

Sounds like you came down with a bad case of "parenting"... I hear it gets worse with adolescents (my oldest is 13).

Makes me wonder how some kids come out so well even when their parents aren't trying hard, like you are.