10/07/2012 08:54 EDT | Updated 12/06/2012 05:12 EST

Dispatches From Down East: Why I Don't Mind Being The Screamer


Who I am as a parent is enough. For here and for now. And I say this first and foremost as the rest of the story will follow this prelude.

I am under the table wiping up crumbs. While I clean, I talk to the husband, who is himself wiping counters. We chat today about my troubles with "daughter number one" who has been extraordinarily moody of late and is crying at the drop of a hat. Or the drop of a toy. Or whatever. Is it hormones already? Say it ain't not so. She is near sending me to the beauty salon every two weeks to cover the grey, and I really cannot afford this. I need to stretch these visits out.

Earlier, she and sister number two had a fight about a pencil sketch that the latter had found in an old scribbler. I will henceforth refer to these two lovely young ladies as "thing one" and "thing two," for the sake of clarity and also because I love Dr. Seuss. His writing sends me consistently to my happy place. Which I need considering the day I'm having.

Thank you Dr. Suess.

The issue is that "thing two" claims to have drawn the picture. Of course, "thing one" adamantly disagrees. Forcefully disagrees. A fight ensues. Complete with screaming, name-calling and general bits that most certainly would make up an all-out cat fight.

It is quite nasty, really. Particularly considering the fact that it takes place the hour before we all go out the door wearing looks of repose and our Sunday best, headed straight for the confines of our local church. It would take Solomon's wisdom to figure out who drew this picture. The two of them are avid artists and what one draws, the other tries to copy.

Did "thing one" draw it? Or was it drawn by "thing two"? Educated guesses only, please.

I try to explain to "thing one" that imitation is the highest form of flattery. I go to great lengths, while I frantically try to get ready for the day, knowing that in doing so, I will be late for church. I try to work out the understanding of the matter between "thing one" and "thing two." I diplomatically explain both sides. And in doing so, I exhaust myself. It is only 9:30 a.m. But in the end, I have them both understanding the other's point of view. Victory number one. There will be more battles to be won on this long, rainy Sunday, but at the very least, I can tuck this one under my belt as an accomplishment.

So as I am stuck under the table, pondering the events that unfolded earlier in the morning (which were followed by more drama as the lunch meal was rolled out, but I digress), the husband tells me he is trying to be gentle with "daughter one" and show some sensitivity. Which he does very well, by the way. He is so good at this. It makes me quite cross, actually. His even-tempered sensitivity. While I am the screamer, he is the voice of reason. While I have panic attacks, he is passively cutting his toenails and chucking the clippers under the bed. He is way, way overboard on the laid back theme. But he is who he is; and who he is, his calm, easy-going self, is part of what our daughter needs.

Part, I say.

I almost felt inadequate when he told me his approach. But then I remembered: who I am is enough too. I don't have to change who I am, I just have to channel the qualities that make me who I am in the right direction. I can be the tiger mother, just as long as I am doing so for the right reasons. And I beg you to believe that of course, I am.

So this is my response to sweet husband's comment. That is, the comment about his beautiful way of being that tender loving care that both my daughter and I need. I said, "You are the gentle one, and that is part of what our daughter needs. But I am the one who tries to get into her head and understand her. Between the both of us, we are the whole package. We are together just what she needs."

It would have been easy to judge the qualities that are lacking in my life, sizing myself up next to someone who has so many of the positive qualities I admire but have unfortunately not quite learned to master yet in my own life. But doing so would accomplish very little. I am who I am. And who I am, that person I am, has lots of great stuff to bring to this parenting table.

Who I am is enough. For here and for now. For today. Of course, I am a work in process. Aren't we all? But with the combination of the husband's tenderness and my tough love and understanding, together we are more than enough for our precious child.

And knowing this, as I write tonight, is certainly enough for me.