Friday Letter to my Kids:
Dear J, J, L and L,
Parents want to leave a legacy for their children, something of themselves that lives on in future generations. I’m afraid I unintentionally passed on a not so stellar legacy to you four kids.
As you know I’m just about the calmest person in the world.
Until I’m not.
Then I’m like some Tasmanian devil/nuclear bomb of emotional messy destruction.
Witness the dented pan, or two, in the kitchen cupboard, a defunct Scrabble game and the memory of a few holes in the wall from various projectiles. Not to mention a phone call or two I made to evil bullying spawn of Satan children or their parents. The rock/lawn chair/anything within reach launching into to the swimming pool incident needs to permanently self-destruct from all our memories. And, a few others I simply won’t elaborate on due to the statute of limitations time frame thingy. (kidding, kidding…)
No one will believe me if they read this. No one. I barely believe it myself sometimes.
That’s how calm I usually feel. That’s how cool and collected I come across. The idea of your mother, mild-mannered Clarkette Kent with glasses, turning into a raging, maniacal foaming at the mouth, bad words unleashed kind of person just won’t register as realistic in anyone’s brain matter. Unless they’ve experienced said transformation. Maybe Superman is pushing the metaphor, I should have compared myself with The Hulk, I suppose.
I’m going somewhere with this. Stay with me here.
Big L gifted me this children’s book a few years back, Monster Mama, written by Liz Rosenberg and delightfully illustrated by Stephen Gammell. It’s been a favorite of mine. (Second only to “Are You My Mother?”)
Why is it a favorite? Well, aside from the near perfect rendering of my likeness in astounding living color, it seems more realistic than most children’s books about how mothers really are. I love how accepting the son is of his mother’s differences. Also, the two sides of this particular “fictional” mother get equal billing.
She’s a tender-hearted, sensitive mother who teaches her sweet son profound lessons.
“Always use your powers for good, never for evil.” ~ Monster Mama
She has mother bear killer instincts to protect and defend. When Patrick Edward found himself dealing with some hoodlums
“Monster Mama heard the echoes of his roar. She zoomed out of her cave like a fast-moving freight train and sailed over the creek in one graceful leap.”
Howling, thundering, snapping and red-flamed eyes ensued and justice meted out.
The difference between Monster Mama and myself lies in the appropriateness of her response to stress, versus the often massive inappropriateness of my response to stress. Her lashing out seemed measured and appropriate in defense of her son.
I, however, simply explode based on an uncontrolled amount of emotion and frustration not specifically aimed, usually, at anyone in particular. (Hence the wall damage instead of personal injury.) And, I wasn’t always defending or protecting, usually just venting in a rather loud, obnoxious and embarrassing way.
This isn’t the kind of legacy I wanted passed on to you. And yet, several, if not all of you, have this tendency to explosive projectile anger vomiting.
It’s not pretty. Remember?
A more productive, or at the least, a safer way to deal with stress and anger might be to let off a little pressure every day, or every hour, or when the need arises. Instead of doing what I do, which is holding it all in, keeping all emotions stuffed into some tiny box in the back of my brain somewhere, where the pressure builds and builds until nothing can hold it back. And BAM! Whoever unluckily resides in the vicinity when the last straw falls, last bean weighs in, last nerve gets stepped on, catches the wrath of Khan or Kami.
I’m still, even all these years later, prone to monstrous explosions of stupidity and yelling. You’d think I’d have outgrown the temper tantrum thing by now.
Truly. If you can get a handle on the whole out-of-control temper thing, you’ll be waaaay better off.
I know. I know. It’s like having an alternate personality lurking in the dark spaces. It doesn’t feel like there’s anything you can do about it. Like trying to keep a teapot from screeching once the water starts boiling full steam ahead.
I hope you’re more successful at taming your anger demons than your mother.
The last page of this lovely book says what I have always felt for each of you.
“No matter where you go, or what you do,” she told him, “I will be there. Because I am your mother, even if I am a monster – and I love you.” ~ Monster Mama
I feel monstrous amounts of love for you. Beyond anything you can yet comprehend. Please know that.
All my love,
Your Monster Mama
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” ~ Ambrose Bierce