They say that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. While I may have been that proverbial "scorned woman" at one time or another, and made many a man pay at that, there has never been a rage inside me that compares to what I experienced last night--the remnants of which are still burning in me like dying coals in a fire.
I'm not sure at what point adults become "adults". You always hear things like, "let's have an adult conversation about this", "that's the adult thing to do", or references to "adult behavior". In my short-lived life I have navigated many "adult" situations but none has affected me so much as being a mother. Being a mother wasn't an instantaneous occurrence for me. It didn't start suddenly when my babies were born or when I first held them. No, it was before that. It wasn't when I discovered that I was pregnant, or even when I made the decision to try to conceive. I'm not sure I can pinpoint the exact moment when I became a mother, but can affirm that it has been a gradual, progressive process that has led me to where I am today. And today, I am definitely a mother.
I was definitely a mother last night too. If there's one thing I hope my children never discover in life its that their mother isn't perfect. I realize this isn't going to happen, but a girl can dream, right? But if there's one thing that I do hope my children know, and I pray that it's not a discovery, but a natural understanding that has always been with them--it's the fact that I love them more than anything else in this world and will do anything to keep them safe. Now that being said, last night was one of my true, pure, unadulterated mother moments. I was so in love with my children that I made mistakes. I make lots of mistakes as a mother, some based on love, and some based on selfishness. Last night was definitely a mistake made out of love (or is it selfish to think so?).
At 9 pm Matt and I had just settled down to watch some TV while we waited for his from-scratch brownies (which turned out AMAZING) to finish baking. There was a knock on the door and when we answered we found our next-door neighbor who moved into the apartment less than 2 weeks ago. She asked Matt, who answered the door, if we had a little baby. When he said that yes, we did, she then asked, "why does it cry all the time?" and before giving us a chance to answer her question, explain to her that we in fact, have two babies, or apologize for being a disruption proceeded to say this:
"Do you beat it or something?".
If you've ever had a surge of adrenaline you'll be familiar with my inability to clearly recall all of the events immediately following her statement. Here's some of what I do remember:
I remember pushing my way passed Matt who had his hand on the door, and his body blocking the doorway, in order to face this woman and let her see me. I remember using some choicely explicit language (part of the imperfection that I hope my children never realize). I remember telling her off for not knowing that babies cry. It is simply a part of their existence. There were some additional fiercely-worded exchanges between the two of us and the next thing I remember is her turning to leave while at the same time threatening to "slap" me.
Oooo. I'm so scared.
I'll admit here that if Matt hadn't been physically restraining me, I would have done something that was surely coming to this woman, that would have provided me with immediate satisfaction and that I'm sure I would have regretted almost as instantly.
One final explicit farewell later and our door was shut and locked.
Of course I was angry, shocked, hurt, and outraged. It took many many hours after that, nearly an entire brownies, and several conversations with my husband and my mother to get to a point where sleep was even an option. My night was plagued by intensely angry dreams where I relived the situation over and over in my subconscious. And when I had awaken, even after I had hugged my sweet girlies in their initial early-morning cheeriness, I felt the burning of anger still hot inside me.
I'm sure one day Matt and I will look back at this situation and laugh. We will find it amusing how our neighbor who was an adult, at least in the legal sense as she had to have been old enough to sign her lease, came over and verbally assaulted us and threatened bodily harm upon me. We will find it amusing how aggressive I became almost instantly at the insinuation that I do anything but love my children. We'll look back and laugh about the whole thing.
But right now, I'm not laughing. This isn't a joke to me. And while I firmly believe that her accusation that I beat my children reflects significantly upon her and not at all upon me, her words definitely cut me. She doesn't know me, and she doesn't know my children, and anyone who has ever seen us together would never allow that thought to enter their mind. There's just no place for it in my relationship with my children. Love takes up all of our space, all of our being, all of our existence for each other. While I am unaware of what her exact circumstances were that provoked such a blatantly vicious attack on strangers, I know that had my neighbor approached this situation "like an adult would have", we would have found ourselves in an entirely different situation. When we first noticed that no one had rented the apartment next to us we knew it would only be a matter of time before we had next-door neighbors sharing a wall with our fussy children at bedtime. We even anticipated an annoyed (albeit, polite) visit from whoever the neighbors would be in order to inform us of the disruption they were experiencing. If she had appeared at our door and had said "I can hear your babies crying through the wall, is there anything you can do about it" we would have had an entirely civil, respectful, and probably apologetic conversation with our neighbors that would have resulted in nothing more than awkwardness.
I have never lived in an apartment until this point in my life, and yet I knew even before coming into this situation that there is a level of noise that you must put up with while living in such close quarters. It is my feeling that this is something an adult should know. Since living here I have gone out of my way to try and keep peace between myself and my neighbors for the sake of living in a safe, friendly environment. I don't' go pounding on the door of my neighbor's who live above me demanding that their yappy dog be silenced or on the door of the pot-smoking neighbors who stink up the entire hallway and occasionally my own apartment with their illegal activity. I don't post hateful signs in the laundry room for the residents who leave their laundry wet in the washers for hours on end. Instead, I do what normal people do: I passively-agressively complain about these things to my husband and friends, and then go on living my life while letting them live theirs. I certainly do not go around accusing my neighbors of child abuse.
I made mistakes last night that included flying completely off the handle, using vulgar and unnecessary language within earshot of my toddlers who repeat everything I say to them, wishing harm upon my neighbor, not being inherently loving, and allowing someone I don't know to get so far under my skin. I'm sorry for my mistakes, and I hope that when my girls figure out just how imperfect their mother actually is, they'll be able to forgive my shortcomings and love me just the same....and not just in this case.
I will not, however, apologize for my protective instincts. I try to be a gentle loving mommy with my girls, but in the face of a threat, I am a mama bear.
And I will rip your face off.