Let it rain, or a brief rant from someone who is usually relentlessly positive

When I heard India.Arie say that she was criticized by some in the music industry for being “too positive,” I nodded in recognition. Not for being told that from the music industry, but there are people in my life who, if asked, would tell you that I am also “too positive.”

Usually, I think they are wrong and I am right for always trying to find the silver lining. But not today.

It’s 4:34 a.m. I’m awake. The rain is pouring down in sheets outside. While rain isn’t unusual for where I live, which is practically a rainforest 8 months out of the year, it’s raining awfully hard right now, which is somewhat unusual. So, I’m thinking it’s not a good day for me to bike to work. I don’t have the head-to-toe rain gear, or one of those flashlight beam headlamps, I just haven’t progressed to that level of obsession with bike commuting (yet).

I made a tactical error at work yesterday. I’m not sure why. I spoke up in a meeting where I should have kept my mouth shut. It wasn’t so much what I said, which in another setting would have been fine, it was the timing. I wish I had a rewind button. I feel like I suck.

After that meeting, where I had to leave early (after foolishly speaking up) I headed to my daughter’s first-grade parent-child-teacher conference. Which went okay, but the teacher and my daughter are not exactly the most compatible duo in the world. I saw my little girl the way an objective bystander might see her, and I winced a little. Not at who she is, but the way I’ve been raising her. I think she could sense my disapproval, which was worse than the feeling of judgement I had toward myself. Not good.

Thankfully, my husband, her loving father, took it all in stride. And I sat down with her and after some bargaining, coached her on her first-grade homework. She is having a hard time focusing (which is entirely normal for her, and for a 6-year-old) but she accomplished quite a bit (with me reading books to her in between her work). I told her I liked sitting with her while she did her homework. The trick will be how to do that after I get home on a usual workday at 6 p.m. or so, while fitting in a home-cooked meal (usually not me doing the cooking, but still) and our many activities we have going on (the Jewish High Holidays make for a very busy time of year — things will likely slow down once we’re past Simchat Torah next week). And getting ready for bed, etc.

My little first grader, who I usually see through a mother’s loving eyes, was driving me absolutely insane yesterday. I hardly ever yell at her, and I must have yelled her name, or some other command along the lines of “Stop” or “Cut it Out” 10 times last night. I was in a bad mood. Which is somewhat rare for me. My family members sensed this and generally responded well, and helped me calm down. A massage from my husband helped. My daughter finally calming down enough to fall asleep helped. And now, hearing the rain is helping, too. A great workout would probably be in order, but I’m not sure what I can do that will be quiet enough to keep from waking up the rest of the family at 4:44 a.m.

Writing this, here’s what I’m coming to:

  • It’s normal to be in a bad mood from time to time
  • Yesterday was a stressful day
  • I’m sorry for some of the ways I responded to what was going on yesterday
  • I don’t suck, overall
  • My family loves me
  • My little girl is both amazing and ordinary
  • We have too much going on right now but it’s going to get better
  • Eating in response to stress leads to insomnia for me
  • I really need some exercise

It sounds like the rain has stopped, or at least, slowed back to the normal drizzle from the sky that I expect.

One other thing. We were driving in the car the other day, and we were listening to the “Free to Be You and Me” CD. Little girl asks me, while we’re listening to “It’s Alright to Cry,” if I ever cry. She has seen me cry, but not since she was about 4 years old, and I haven’t cried much in front of her. I cried so much when I had a miscarriage (when she was 4) and when her dad wasn’t doing well (when she was 4-5), but I usually found ways and times to cry when she wasn’t around. I did cry in front of her a few times then, but usually silent tears streaming down my face more than the full-blown crying that I did in private (or during therapy sessions). I say, “Yes, I do cry. I have cried lots of times. But I cry when I’m sad, and I haven’t been sad lately.” So, the next time I feel like crying, I’m going to try to remember that she needs to see me cry, so she knows that this grown-up does cry from time to time and it’s perfectly okay to do so.

I love my little girl so much.

This parenting thing is turning out to be worth it for me. (I will probably regret saying this sometime in the next 10 years weeks days hours minutes.)



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5 responses to “Let it rain, or a brief rant from someone who is usually relentlessly positive

  1. Alexie

    One thing I’ve learned is that women worry about stuff that men don’t give a second thought to. Do men lie awake worrying about what they said in meetings? Nope. Whatever it was you said or did, it was yesterday. Let it go. It will be absolutely amazing if anybody besides yourself has remembered it.

    • s.g.

      absolutely, i totally agree with alexie. the sooner women stop obsessing over what they say/don’t say, the more self confidence they will have and the less people will take advantage of them…which will create a more gender equitable world for all (and hopefully the reciprocal, where men can start actually thinking about how their comments make others feel!)

  2. What’s funny is I got the same advice from a colleague, who is a man, but when I talked about it with another person I admire, she suggested I proactively mention this to my supervisor, who is a woman.
    I do tend to obsess about stuff like this, but I’ve also been “called out” for this particular thing several times in the past, so I know it was noticed by my supervisor and something she’s likely to bring up with me at some point, or for her to carry it around in a not-so-good way. Things are really in a “crunch time” at the moment, so I’ll wait to bring it up when things aren’t so hectic.

  3. It’s hard to deal constructively with teachers when there is a basic personality non-fit. So hard to hear negative things about your kid, or at least to perceive them via body language and implication, even when the teacher doesn’t say it directly. That’s a rough one for every parent. You’re not alone in that.

    Although it can be useful to try and see it from their perspective, it’s also important that you hang on to your loving parent perceptions of your child, biased on her behalf. She NEEDS you to see her that way so you can continue to be her advocate. So give yourself permission to do that and not let anyone else spoil your vision of her.

  4. I know this is ten days old, and you are long moved on, but Hug, nevertheless. Huggity, hug, hug. You are a good and contemplative mom, person, employee.

    I have that comment issue thing too, where I sometimes I find myself making an awkward observation or what-have-you. And while men do this and don’t think about it, and others seem to not think about it when men do it, it does seem an issue for women. Yet we have to risk. Because sometimes when we risk a comment it doesn’t come out awkward and leads to something productive. Here’s the line I use to save myself after I’ve made a boner:

    Ya’ know, Nobel Laureate, Linus Pauling once said, “In order to have a great idea, you gotta have a lot of ideas.” So, I think we’re one idea closer.

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