Parental failure

posted by Jeff | Saturday, April 28, 2012, 11:22 PM | comments: 0

Diana helped out this morning with the sale of child stuff up at the high school, so it was another one of those half-days where I got to have some exclusive Simon time. Typically, I enjoy these times and look forward to them, because it gives me a chance to be the dad I want to be. Except when I'm not.

Simone had no fewer than three meltdowns this morning. It's easy to write it off as something a 2-year-old does, but I felt like I should be doing more, and working the problem. Most of Simon's frustrations come from either a short tolerance for not being able to do what he wants, and more often, the inability to communicate what he feels. So imagine how I felt like an asshole when, after melting down because I was trying to get him to sit down for lunch, he led me up to his changing table to change a poopy diaper I didn't notice. And by that time, I had become short with him as well, which makes me feel worse, because what the hell is wrong with a grown man that gets angry at a kid who has a vocabulary of a few dozen words?

If it were just a one-off occurrence, I'd just move on, but I feel like this is happening a lot lately when I'm with him. He gets upset about something, I don't know what, and then it's obvious. I sound like a crazy person when I articulate the feeling, but it really messes with my self-esteem as a parent. Nothing makes me feel like more of a failure than when I can't provide for Simon. And if that's not bad enough, my spiral of self-loathing causes me to be short with Diana and anyone else I encounter. If that weren't bad enough, he had epic vomit after dinner in the parking lot tonight. I mean, the result looked like it was from someone who had gotten drunk and revisited several dozen wings and chips. That made me wonder if he was feeling suboptimal all day, and that makes me feel even worse because I never considered it.

Tomorrow, the perspective that comes with a night of sleep (sometimes) will make me see that I'm probably over-reacting tonight. My lack of vacationing and leisure certainly has me holding on too tight. It's just that when it comes to Simon, I sometimes feel like the stakes are impossibly high. I've had so many disappointing relationships in my life, and if I'm only going to have one child, I can't let that happen with him. That's a lot of pressure, even if it is self-applied.

The thing that gives me comfort is that I think Simon sometimes knows how I feel. Last night, he insisted on rocking with me a little before bed, which is ordinarily not a fun time for any of us. Tonight, after his bath, he sat on my lap and held my fingers during his nebulizer treatment, and wasn't shy about cozying up to me during his Sesame Street time.


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