Friday, June 10, 2022

Love and Sorrow

I've recently started reading Martha Crawford's blog and following her on Twitter. She's a therapist in remission from cancer. I want to keep this particularly beautiful and timely thread to revisit from time to time:

"I try not to participate in war and game binary metaphors of victory and defeat, success and failure, but it's challenging when this was fed to me as staple food by the culture around me. And the place that this haunts me most profoundly is in my role as mother. I can still get caught up in trying to pursue 'successful' parenting -- even though I know it is only parenting. 

And when the world makes it impossible to guard or protect my children, I feel 'failed.' I feel so personally failed that I have been unable to protect my children from covid and reinfection -- like I failed them, failed their birthmother, failed my maternal mandate somehow.

It's all gibberish but still excruciating.

It's an attempt to control the uncontrollable by personally 'taking on the burden of the badness' as Fairbairn would say. But the world and these young adults' conflicting needs are not in my control. The irrational burden hangs there, unmoved by logic. 

Only grief releases it. 

Also: super essential to learn to avoid talking to other parents caught up in this game because it's catchy. Also, the drive to parent 'better' than your own parents is another form of this game -- even if your parents sucked. It's not a game. There is no winning. 

Just love and its eternal companion sorrow travelling through, back and forth. No kind of game at all."

I'm feeling all this in trying to give my kids the best opportunities I can and the most enriching lives possible within a limited budget (single mom now retired) and during a pandemic. There are always other kids that have more and better, and it destroys me when that's overtly pointed out. I don't tell them that, of course, because they're grieving their own losses and regrets - from missed lessons as kids to the unlikelihood of ever owning a home, and I don't want to get in the way of that with my crap. And now there are year-end celebrations being missed because of Covid, which is frustrating because they could be made safer with masks, but that spoils all the fun. 

I'm just no fun. 

So far, I've kept 2/3rds of them virus-free, but not without complaints and evidence of how "normal" people live, regularly going to restaurants, concerts, bars, and parties, hanging out with friends without a second thought, in and out of each other's homes, all without masks. I know. They're free to go anywhere they want if they isolate and test afterwards, but that's not worth it to them, which is their decision to make and own. 

As many parents do, I also grieve when they grieve. Their pain is always shared. Even when I cause it.

(And then I feel pathetic since we're all fed and housed and healthy enough to do most things. Who are we to regret the path that led us here or grieve the trappings of what's just out of reach? But there it is, the sorrow, hanging around in a line up of things to deal with today.)

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