Hey, all. I’m feeling a little improved after the feelingsbarf of Monday’s comic and doing the Motherlover page in a cello-induced fugue. Thank you all for not just your comments, but also so many emails offering support and wisdom. I’m constantly blown away by how lucky I am that the people who read this comic are so kind, thoughtful, and generous. I am completely overwhelmed, so if I don’t respond to you personally, it’s only because words have failed. I’m still feeling a lot of shame and anxiety over everything which makes it hard to respond, but I’m still so grateful.

In extremely related news, one of the behaviors we’re struggling with in Momo right now is a perpetual, willful refusal to follow basically any instruction at all. She’ll either ignore me, or cross her arms and sulk, or run away, or do whatever it was but so slowly and so badly I have to step in. And I, with all my fault exposed (as having kids tends to do to a person; I am a livewire of faults), get to the ‘raised voices’ part of the negotiations more quickly than I should.

Because, on one hand, clearly you shouldn’t get angry at your kids. That’s pretty obvious. But on the other… man, sometimes things just need to get done. Teeth need to be brushed; shoes need to be put on. It’s Canada, so if I let her go out without a coat I’m gonna get done for abuse. There’s basic standards, like getting out of her wet night diaper or not leaving things on the floor that could kill our dumb cat. More generally, there are simply some things where tactic to ‘let them face the consequences of their actions’ doesn’t work, because the consequences fall on me. And just doing the task myself doesn’t work, it only triggers a dramatic tantrum about how she was ‘gonna do it HERSELF, mom!!’ Like a kettle boiling until it screams, she tries my patience until the very last moment – until I’m fully ready to throw her outside for the timber wolves – then she does it, and we both feel crappy about how we got there.

And the worst part is, after these little skirmishes nothing changes. No matter how many times we debrief afterwards and I explain to her that if she’d just done what she was told it would have been done and no one would be upset, and we hug it out and both say sorry for yelling, literally the next thing she does will be exactly the same thing. It’s maddening, in all senses of the word.

So we’ve created this positive feedback loop where she ignores me, I ride her for it, she gets (rightfully) upset, and then whatever it is gets done. Every time it happens, it just entrenches this idea This Is Just How Mommy and Momo Communicate, which is horrible! It’s damaging her! Nothing about this feels good!