"Alright fine, let's just go! It's obvious no one wants to be here anyway, so let's just go home and all get on our electronic devices in separate rooms so we don't actually have to interact with each other ever again!"
Oh yes, that was me. I'd wrangled my husband, Henry, and our tween daughters, Clare and Bridget, out of the house on Saturday and all the way down to Venice Beach in an attempt to create some family-freaking-memories not connected to computers or television sets.
But, I had no idea that I had expectations.
I didn't realize I had a lot was riding on this little family jaunt to Venice Beach right up until the moment we arrived and nobody wanted to be there.
No one wanted to eat in the same restaurant. Bridget only wanted ice cream, Clare wanted chicken and waffles, I wanted wine and Henry wanted hashish.
Clare was especially desperate to leave, because about 90 percent of the drug addicts and mental institution escapees in the United States congregate at Venice Beach, juggling their buzz saws, blasting "Ice Ice Baby" from a boombox on their lap as they do wheelies in their electric wheelchairs, making sweet "Jesus Saves" love to their hand-megaphones, all while reeking of camphor, hemp, Mary Jane and patchouli oil.
Apparently I really needed every one of us to revel in the euphoric bliss of being at the ocean on a gloriously sun-drenched SoCal day.
The second the girls began to mope this other entity seemed to take me over. We shall call her Exquisite Maternal Martyr.
This is what she said in my head, You do everything for these little ingrates, you throw them Hawaiian Luau birthday parties!
(I call into evidence, the luau water slide)
You attend every softball/soccer game and really try not to yell embarrassing encouragement. You watch American freaking Idol with them and even vote for their favorite singer afterwards. You, you, you... are just like your mom.
I'll never forget the time my mom, Gini, was driving my sister and me to Mervyn's for our annual September school clothes shopping trip. My sister, Gina and I must've done something (I can't remember what), because suddenly our mom became Exquisite Maternal Martyr.
All the way down to Mervyn's she scowled at us in the rearview mirror and reminded us of all the things she did for us (I blocked those out as well) and how annoyed she was to have to take us school shopping when we obviously didn't appreciate any of her efforts.
There. On Venice Beach. Watching the slumped shoulders of my daughters and the vague sense of terror in my husband's eyes as I threw my conniption fit, I had a lot of empathy for my mom. We didn't realize how much she did for us way back then, and she probably didn't realize it either, until she was reminded by our ingratitude when she was just about to do one more nice thing for us.
I tried to get a handle on my seemingly irrational feelings down there at the shore. I took a little walk to give myself a talking to. I realized from the outside I probably looked a lot like the tattoo lady with the missing legs (could they have been severed by the buzz saw guy?) talking to herself.
I couldn't understand where this irrational Exquisite Maternal Martyr had come from? I like to think I'm pretty fun, pretty calm, pretty self-deprecating and really loving. Could this be the perfect storm of my impending menopause clashing with my daughters' incipient puberty? Do other mothers have these irrational episodes?? (Do you?)
I had no answers. And I still don't. But after about ten, or thirty minutes of cooling down, I rejoined my family for lunch and bit-by-bit apologized for my guilt-tripping. I was apologized to, in return, and we managed to have a good family day after that.
Her highness Exquisite Maternal Martyr still lurks, but if I feed her enough chocolate she seems content to remain a sleeper cell. Do you have outbursts with your kids or exhibit poor parenting skills? And what do you do afterwards? (if you don't have outburst make some up).
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