I used to tell people that when I grew up, I wanted to be a big black woman. Seriously, think of the big black women you've known in your life. They are powerful. They can just look at you and make you cry.
I think there's one deep down inside of me somewhere. She threatens to pop out usually when I'm disciplining my girls. I may be straining myself to force out a calm "That's not the way we talk in this house." But everything inside of me wants to spit out, "Don't you give your mama that kinda lip!!!!!!"
Most of the African-American people I've known in my life who had it all together talked about their sassy mama who would whoop them if they took a step out of line. Kind of defies conventional wisdom that a mother who speaks with that kind of tone to her kids on a consistent basis will raise angry, disrespectful brats. That does happen in some homes, though. I would love to have lived with my friends' families for a few months and figure out how their mothers managed to thwart the conventional wisdom.
This all came to mind this morning as I was wondering why sometimes I am able to respond to my kids' misbehavior so calmly and sometimes I sass at them like an immature brat. As I hinted at in an earlier post, it seems to usually have to do with my perspective -- I get angry when I feel like what they're doing is an affront to me personally, a threat to my authority or dignity. And it also occured to me that these African-American mothers lived in cultural times when they were more likely to have experienced genuine affronts and threats to their dignity on a regular basis. Just wondering if there's a connection.
In any case, I gotta remember that my kids' bickering and whining and so on and so forth is not an attack on me, and not a threat to me. Not that I sit around consciously thinking that my girls are just out to get me. But I am the center of my own world, you know. I suspect that I unwittingly think everything is about me more than it is. I suspect we all do. I may be neurotic, but not uniquely so.
And, unfortunately, God did NOT make me a big, powerful, black woman. C'est la vie.