There is Logical Me, and there is Emotional Me. Logical Me is, well, LOGICAL. It knows things. It understands reason. It is measured and wise and only if-thens things which truly have causal relationships and is very rarely given to panic and knows exactly what to do in the unlikely event of a water landing without so much as raising its voice. I love Logical Me, but Logical Me is kind of a robot.
Emotional Me is Chicken Little on steroids. The sky isn’t just falling, it’s SHOOTING TOWARDS US and there’s NO WAY TO STOP IT and therefore requires that Emotional Me runs around, arms flailing, screaming at the top of its lungs: WE ARE ALL DOOOOOOOMED! Emotional Me is given to crying hot ugly tears of fear and frustration. Emotional Me also does a mighty fine jig in times of happiness and gives really good hugs, but mostly Emotional Me is a hot mess of angst and I consider it Logical Me’s job to keep Emotional Me in a half-nelson as much as possible.
The good news is that I know this about myself. The bad news is that Emotional Me is a slippery bastard.
When it comes to Matters Of The Children, I am mostly good at letting Logical Me deal with the rule-setting and the expectations and the consequences, and sure, occasionally, things go sideways and Emotional Me is goaded into an argument about this or that, but for the most part, Emotional Me waits until the kids are in bed to inform Otto that we are all DOOMED and the children will never lead independent lives and it’s ALL MY FAULT. (Once again: Otto is a lucky, lucky man, no? Really no.)
Logical Me was really, really hoping that Monkey’s surgery would clear up his recent issues—because, really, who among us is at their best when they’re sick and feeling crappy?—but Logical Me knew that it might not be the answer. Logical Me expected it to help, but knew better than to expect it to cure. And now we see that it’s helped but not cured, yes. Logical Me is not surprised.
Emotional Me is sure we’re all DOOOOOOOMED and my precious baby boy is BROKEN and life is horrible and blah blah blah. No surprises there, of course.
Last night I had a weird little epiphany, though.
Last night we went to our local Board of Education meeting, because one of the things they were doing was recognizing Chickadee’s Academic Team for their performance in the state academic bowl. They made it to the top eight in the state this year (woo!) and this, apparently, merits being announced, applauded, getting a certificate, and getting to shake the hands of all the Board members. Whether or not I believe this to be a good use of the Board’s time (hint: I don’t) is another story, but I get that it’s supposed to be a nice thing for the kids, so there we were, Chickadee slouching down next to a friend and trying to pretend she didn’t know us, and Monkey sat next to her reading a book and completely ignoring what was happening, and I happened to see the principal from Monkey’s school.
Now, you may recall that due to a redistricting a couple of years ago, Monkey ended up switching elementary schools. Which means that Chickadee never went to the school he attends, and further means Monkey’s principal has never met Chickadee.
But there we were at the same meeting, and we caught each others’ gaze and waved and later there may have been another intentional smile and unspoken “way to go” sort of acknowledgement as my gazelle-legged daughter unfolded herself from the chair and walked up to shyly accept her certificate and congratulations.
Logical Me and Emotional Me united in a glorious flood of HEY THAT’S MY AWESOME KID as we clapped, and a minute later—after the second look from Monkey’s principal—an unbidden thought popped into my head from somewhere else entirely.
“This means maybe it’s clear to the principal now that we’re not terrible parents.”
It’s unfair to think that, perhaps. Monkey’s school has, in many ways, worked overtime to help us and get him what he needs, but we are always swimming upstream against the unspoken current of “Your kid is simply a behavior problem.” The reality of outsiders and Asperger’s is that it’s really very hard to wrap your head around someone being so INCREDIBLY SMART and yet acting like a spoiled brat when they should “know better.” I’ve always felt like the principal there secretly believes we’re just overindulgent parents who can’t handle our kid, and whether that’s an accurate assessment or not I obviously can’t say; Logical Me knows I may be letting Emotional Me make an incorrect inference, but Logical Me also knows it’s a real possibility.
That little voice of triumph and vindication, though, that wasn’t Logical Me OR Emotional Me.
That was pure ego.
And here’s the thing: Chickadee’s achievements are hers, not mine. And Monkey’s challenges are his, not mine. Do I celebrate the successes, and agonize over the setbacks? Of course. That’s my job as their mom. I’m not saying I shouldn’t care.
But my ego needs to stay out of it. ALL of it.
Logical Me and I had a good talk last night, about how I can be immensely proud of my daughter and still let it be all about her, and likewise I can be immensely proud of my son EVEN THOUGH he’s got a lot of struggles still going on, too. And none of it is a reflection on my worthiness as a person or a parent; it’s just about loving and appreciating them for the marvelous creatures they are. And SCREW anyone who doesn’t agree, because that’s not my problem.
Sure, now Emotional Me and my ego are huddled in the corner together talking about what a bitch Logical Me is, but whatever.