Monday, September 15, 2008

Misery Loves Company

Guys, I am miserable today.

First of all, remember that strange woman who told us that she wants us to keep the dogs inside until 11am? Well, guess who called animal control on us on Friday when I didn't do it? Yep. Mike the Animal Guy was here on Saturday, and talked to DH. He said that he was sorry to have to come back, and that he didn't know why the woman was complaining about us in particular, since even as he stood there there were dogs barking all over the neighborhood, but since she called he had to come out. He told DH that if she continues to complain, we'll have to go to mediation. DH told me he actually hopes she will call again, so we can see her face to face and deal with it in a more legal way, since she's being totally ridiculous, but frankly I want to crawl into a hole. I HATE living in this neighborhood. We have had nothing but problems since we moved here. Actually, we've had nothing but problems since we moved to this entire TOWN. Sigh. We're stuck here, too, because I refuse to move the kids again, and they're really happy at their school, which is a very nice place. Still, I hate feeling like there's someone out there in their house hating us and waiting with her finger on the phone. DH says it's because we're on the corner, so it's easy for people to see our house to know where this particular barking is coming from, versus someone who's backyard isn't nearer to the road, and also that this house was empty for a year, so it was literally silent here (although the people here before us had a lab, and it was out all the time roaming the neighborhood, from what I hear from two other neighbors that are actually nice to us) until now. Still, I feel like a cloud is hanging over us, and it makes me really, really sad. Growing up, living with my grandmother, was very much the same; she sat in her chair in front of the window with her binoculars watching the neighbors, waiting for a reason to complain to either the police or to holler out the window at them, or call them directly, to bitch about one thing or another. I hoped to never, ever have to deal with someone like that again. Guess what? Now I apparently live right on the same block as one. And I'm stuck here. Forever.

Also, and this is a larger problem, I'm having a real problem with Josie. It's not her; it's me. Well, maybe it's a little her, but mostly it's my own feelings towards her that I'm having trouble with. I'm just not enjoying having her around AT ALL. I feel crabby towards her, and annoyed by her, most of the time. She's all over me, and asks ridiculous questions (ie, when I was reading to her the other night, 'then Rex said...' she interrupted me to ask, 'What's Rexsaid?' like it was one word - argh, seriously, kid, that doesn't even make sense), and just generally is being a thorn in my side. However, she's a kid, and as such SHOULD be asking questions that make you want to tear your hair out, she should have the freedom to do that. Really, what scares me, is that maybe this is how my mother felt towards me, and so maybe I'm turning into her, or maybe I'm just like her. Since I think she's a terrible person, and was a horrible, abusive parent, this scares the daylights out of me and makes me want to jump off a bridge. If I hate her, and then feel like I may have internalized part of her, then by transitive property I also have to hate myself. Also, if I understand how she felt, even a little bit, a little voice in my head says, well, maybe she was justified in treating you the way she did, maybe you DID deserve it. Every time I hear myself being not as kind to Josie as I would like myself to be, I feel like I'm sinking further and further into the abyss.

Obviously, I would never lay a hand on her, there's no question about that. I know, too, that since I know (and worry) that she will absorb my parenting skills and views on her as they come out through my parenting, that of course I couldn't help but do the same with my own mother, and that those demons will always be with me just by the sheer fact that I lived with her. This is the reasonable side of me. However, since my feelings of worry, and annoyance at Josie, are *un*reasonable, the reasonable side of my brain isn't exactly doing a lot to assuage my fears. My biggest problem, really, is that I'm being all-around unreasonable; I can't expect her to be as adult as I was at her age, because I had to grow up way too young out of a sense of self-preservation. I wasn't allowed to ask a lot of questions, and had to keep to myself all the time. I wasn't allowed to watch children's TV, so I was pretty worldly-minded as a young child because all I saw was news, 60 Minutes, and soaps. I had to figure things out on my own, all the time. This is not her experience, and while I know this, it's hard for me to deal with her childishness at an age where I thought she would be more thinking for herself. I also need to say that I don't seem to have this problem with Patrick, although he's younger than she is, and behaves differently both because he's younger and because he's just got a different temperament. I have a sneaky feeling it's also because she's a girl, and somewhere I've got it programmed into my head that as a girl, I was worthless.

People, I thought I had gotten past this. Evidently, I have not, and maybe will always be fighting these concerns. That's really, really depressing, both that I may always have these unwanted feelings and that I may always have to be fighting myself. How tiring. I haven't had this kind of freak-out in a long time, and this one has hit me out of the blue. Existentially, I wonder if maybe this neighbor woman, plus my concern about my feelings towards Josie, aren't a cosmic force trying to make me deal with my childhood.

Finally, all the windows of our new house are painted shut. We borrowed a 12ft ladder from a friend over the weekend, but it won't reach the second story, and I don't think the 18ft one we got from HIS friend will, either. This means I'm going to have to call someone to get up there and do the easy job of slicing through the paint at the window edges and pay them a small fortune. Argh. This morning, though, I was able to climb up and get the windows on our back porch open (the back porch is enclosed, and is actually the second story in the back yard, since we have a walk-out basement below). It's nice, except I broke the glass in one of the windows when I took the hammer to smack the wood on the top of the sash to get the whole thing moving (these windows are original to the house, so there's no metal flashing - the entire window is painted, on all sides, so the whole thing was stuck and needed a little, um, encouragement). ARGH. I suppose one out of six isn't bad.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll get out of this funk soon, but while I'm being miserable, come on over and keep me company.


AndreAnna said...

Must be something in the air. Today is totally sucking.

It seems like you have a pretty good grasp of your emotions and your reactions to them. The toxic relationship with your mother is something you carry with you forever, but learning how to handle it is what makes the difference. Whether or not you can teach yourself on your own is another thing. That's why people get paid the big bucks so you can sit on their couch.

Melissa said...

When I was a little younger we also lived on a street with 'those' types of people. My next door neighbor would call on our dogs all the time saying stupid things like we left our dogs out all hours of the night barking to get in even though it was not true because one dog would sleep in my room and the other would sleep in my sisters room. They hated animals, one day we confronted them and we never had another call about our dogs again. All we needed to do was say we know it's you calling and lying. It was enough for them because well people are braver on the phone then in person! So you may just have to do that when you go to mediation. Good luck!

Melinda said...

I just wanted to send you some encouragement via the Internet. Life can be so...challenging sometimes, eh? It's awesome that you're conscious of your feelings about the situation right now with Josie and I think you are probably miles ahead of your mom just because you are actually thinking about how your behavior impacts your kids. I get the feeling that you are a darn good mom. Remember all the good stuff you do and say.

(And, I hope the dog haters move.)

Swistle said...

The dog thing SUCKS.

And I think kids really can be very, very annoying. Like, I don't think we're weird if we feel annoyed by them or don't want to be around them. The fact that we know they're just being kids puts us in a different UNIVERSE from people like your mom. Like, can you picture her thinking about you, "I should really have more patience with her---she's just being a normal child, and I'M the one having a problem"? I can't picture it.

Kristin.... said...

I'm sorry to hear about the dog people, again. Argh. She needs to get a life, pronto.
And I totally understand where you are with Josie. I am there with Meg. I didn't have a bad relationship with my mom, although it was difficult. I think that we put more pressure on the oldest child, or at least that's how it felt for me growing up. I still put too much pressure on myself, which in turn I do to Meg.
You are not your mom though. Remember that.
Sending hugs.

Marie Green said...

I frequently feel this way towards my older two daughters too- I remember being treated poorly as a child, and swearing I would never do it myself... but then I HEAR myself and ARG! It IS like I want them to just grow UP already. I'm actually good with the "big" issues- it's the little things (that are big to THEM) that I have no patience for.

Perhaps it's partially just the mother/daughter relationship that is universal?

In any case, I'd like to think that I won't screw things up so much that they HATE me as teenagers, as I did my own mother... *crossing fingers*

Marie Green said...

Also: Dog woman can eat it.

Also: I bet you could rent a taller ladder, for a fraction of the cost of hiring someone...

creative kerfuffle said...

crap--i didn't want to glom (is that even a word?) up your comment section so i emailed you.
on the dog front---the hubs knows people who know people so just say the word if you need anything ; ) (like cement shoes or something)

d e v a n said...

oooh, that crappy neighbor! Do you know which one it is? Leave a noise machine on her doorstep.

I agree with Swistle. Kids can be annoying and we are human. Just the fact that you recognize what you are feeling and trying to change that is big. You are not your mother.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

1. "Neighbor" lady? She sounds like a nightmare. I'm so sorry you have to deal with her.

2. I'm so grateful to you for writing about feeling frustrated with Josie and how this triggers other feelings about your family. I have some issues with my family and how I was raised (in my case it was my dad) and had years of therapy to work through it. I love thinking that I'm DONE, all those issues are gone, but that's a total crock because there's always a new trigger around the bend. And my daughter is the biggest trigger. What therapy did was allow me to recognize when I am triggered and find ways to manage my reaction and minimize the impact. I have learned to say to her (and the poor girl is only 2) that "Mommy's really frustrated right now and since I love you, I'm going to take a little time out for myself" and walk away (whenever safe and possible of course). I know that there are tiny shards of my dad and his behavior that are forever lodged in me and I will battle that shrapnel, in varying degrees and regularity, for the rest of my life.

It sounds like you are doing such a great job and should give yourself a break. You are mindful, you are aware of how each thing is related and how feelings about the present also contain pieces and layers of the past.

blah blah blah. going to shut up now. Hope your day is in an upswing.

Which Box said...

Today does just suck. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Have you figured out who freak anti-dog person is?

Not Your Aunt Bea said...

Everyone's wrote what I want to say, but they've written it much better.

It will get better. If you lived in my neighborhood, I would invite you over for drinks and yummy dessert then we could mindlessly watch tv and gab.

And I'd go over and have a talking to with the dog-hater. And maybe turn her into the HOA on some stupid thing for paybacks.