The law of averages

copyright: Born to Lose

The law of averages suggests that just as the sun gets swallowed by clouds as soon as I don my shades, every good day must be followed by a pair of shitty ones. This, I realise, is to stop me from getting too comfortable. 

So, yesterday’s successful father’s day treat was followed today by a bullish and irritable Ben, looking for an excuse to get away from us. First he suggests he’ll stay over to finish a course application he’s been working on (it’s an application for teaching, which he has been filling out since at least last autumn). Then he decides he’s going.

This last decision is precipitated by him saying he needs a first to get into his chosen university and me saying, of course you have a first, don’t be ridiculous. It later transpires that he may not actually have a first. I rib him for his lacklustre college performance (he did well where it counted – in musical performance) but he fails to see the humour in what I say. He can’t see it because he’s too busy looking for an excuse to take him out the door and onto his bike.


Except it’s not whatever. I get so angry, I end up yelling at Rosie for nothing. She tells me she doesn’t love me and I say it doesn’t matter. I am not loved. I am used to this. The poor child cries, and I resent him more for getting under my skin this way. Then I remember what a crap day I’ve had, with its shifting sands and the hopes I had of relocating somewhere for a new job tumbling headlong into a dune.

Quite apart from the last-minute language restrictions designed to exclude any of my team from these jobs, there is also the small fact that our organisation will not provide any immigration support if we do opt to relocate. Ridiculous. Unfathomable. And another attempt to shaft us and make us go away.

They want cheaper, local labour. With one face they tell us there are more jobs than there are people, with the other, they up the stakes so that the few of us who are still willing to stay with the organisation find it impossible to find something suitable – or desirable – in the new structure.

All at once, I notice Rosie, with her sad eyes and worried expression, and I hug her. I tell her I love her and it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t love me back. I know she loves me anyway. In that we are agreed. We love each other. We are loved.

But I do explain to her, in a fit of candour, that Ben never really did love me. And that by the time she came along, I was so tired of being unloved that I found myself being rude to him.  It was wrong, I said, but I was upset. 

I don’t know why I shared that with her or what I expected. When she asked me why, as she inevitably does in these circumstances, I referred her to her dad. Ask him, I said. He’s the only one who knows. 


9 thoughts on “The law of averages

  1. I’ve done the same thing with my children – yelled at them erroneously for minor non-infractions when really I wanted to yell at Donkey. It hit me harder than he ever did, and then I was wracked with guilt. I realized, by yelling at them I thought I was yelling at a piece of him, except it didn’t transfer from their little bodies to his thick skull. It wasn’t until they were gone from me that I even realized this.

    • Oh, Melanie. Do you know, you saying that actually makes me feel better. It means that I’m not the awful person I keep thinking I am, because it is – at least, I imagine it is – a very natural response to stress (all that shouting). I am forever plagued by guilt over the number of times I have transferred my anger about something Ben has done, to my defenceless girl. Whenever it happens, I realise, almost straight away, that I am not even seeing her. It is his face or his actions that I am throwing angry darts at. Poor thing.

      • I will spend the rest of their life making up for all the senseless times I have yelled at them because I was hurt by him. I recognize it now, as it creeps from my chest to my mouth, but I’m three years into wanting to yell at the nearest ear. It just happened last Friday after I learned he was trying to get my blog shut down. I yelled at them to put their shoes on NOW, when any other time I would have counted to 3 and put them in time-out if their shoes weren’t on. I took a deep breath and put their shoes on for them while I apologized for being a butthead. In those moments, I feel like I’m him.

      • oh yes, I recognise that so, so well. I have apologised many a time for being a butthead, too. Well, a ‘meanie’. What a toe-rag – trying to shut your blog down.

      • Oh, yes, I don’t call myself a butthead out loud to the kids. They can learn that kind of language from Donkey.
        Toe-rag indeed. He tossed it in as a negotiation point – he said he would be willing to offer an additional week every summer if I would agree to shutting it down. I refused that offer since I can get that week by driving to where he lives in Florida a week ahead of when the summer begins, and then drive them to my home in Georgia at the end of that week. It’ll mean a week in a hotel, but I can rent a cottage on the beach and double the trip as summer vacation from work. Sometimes it’s nice that he thinks I’m an idiot.

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