To say that mental problems run in my family, is like saying the Obama administration is moderately disliked by Republicans. That is, we have a bevy of problems, ranging from the debilitating, to generally just being an annoyance for everyone around us. There are probably a couple dozen people in this world outside of my immediate family who are familiar with my story in-total from having been adopted at an early age, to living through two divorces; an abusive mother; and any number of a dozen other things that alone, might explain some of the problems I have.
If I had ten thousand dollars for every time I’d heard someone say to me, “It’s a miracle you turned out as well-adjusted as you did,” I’d have at least…I dunno…a hundred thousand dollars! Though perhaps after blogging all this, I’ll hear it more often. If I’m being honest though, my problems pale in comparison to others. My problems don’t require medication. They don’t cause me to completely withdraw from the people I love for long periods of time. And they don’t make me want to act out on the society at-large, so generally speaking, I’m doing alright.
But there are times. Oh yes, there are times.
For instance, parenting. Parenting has been a challenge as I’ve discussed on numerous occasions and it continues to cause personal problems for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, parenting is not for everyone. There is a line that each person much recognize within his or her tolerance and they must adhere to that line, for when you do not, THAT’s when you make the morning news.
My personal “line” was crossed the moment I found out we were having a third child (and yes, I’m probably going to hell just for saying that out loud). But I’m not going to spoil the literary moment here by telling you how much I love my children and how I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for the world, because frankly, that’s a bunch of crap.
After 11 years of marriage, my wife has learned the tell-tale signs of my having reached a point, which manifests itself in one of two ways:
– either via a sudden, violent outburst at one of the children in the form of a “STOP IT!” or a “SHUT UP!”
– or more often, the tightening of my jaw, the narrowing of my eyes, and an obstinate will to keep perfectly quiet. Don’t try and draw me out of it. Don’t ask me what’s wrong. Just leave me…the hell…alone for a while.
I think one of the failures of the human race is our desire to compare ourselves to others. I do it; I’m sure you do it to. We each hold ourselves to this impossibly high standard that’s based solely on the public persona shown to us by others who are privately just as screwed up as we are. I’m sure, to that divorced lady who lives up the street and who only sees me when I’m outside playing with the kids, that I embody everything a good father should (perhaps with the exception of Ryan Reynolds-like abs). Because all we see of people is what they want us to see.
But I do wonder how I compare. Oh, I know that I could search Google right now for, “Fed up Dads” or “My kids make me want to just walk away” and I could find thousands of people who have expressed similar feelings. But, we’re still in the minority when you consider how many parents are out there.
I look at people like “Father of Five” and that dude just makes me feel A) ashamed and B) proud all at the same time. Ashamed because he has way more kids than I do, plus works crappy hours (on second thought, maybe that’s WHY he’s such a patient dad…) and Proud because it’s nice to know we’re not all as screwed up as me.
So, my hat off to you FoF and all you other Fathers and Mothers out there who make having families bearable for the rest of us.