I’ve noticed a lot of new types of posts on Facebook lately. Lots of ladies in the 40’s and 50’s getting new pets and frankly, they are obsessed. I’ve watched ducks have their own photo shoot, a dog being ordered a plate of carpaccio in a restaurant and another dog was treated to well over $1,000 of accessories. I look at these pictures and think these people are nuts, when the truth is that they are all suffering from empty-nest syndrome. Two of the three examples I gave have adult children who have recently flown the coup, and the third has a teenager.
As mothers, we pour love out to our children daily and when they are gone, we still have lots of love to give. That’s not something that can be turned off. Once a mother, always a mother. So these women I am watching are simply transferring all the love they have to offer to their pets, and really, who am I to judge?
It’s actually something that scares the crap out of me – the thought of my children not being with me, not living with me. I know, mine are only small right now and there are many days that I just tear my hair out, but one thing that I always realize and acknowledge is that there will very much be a day, and probably not too far away, where I will miss this craziness. I watch my 3 year old and 5 year old tear naked through the house and I marvel at how precious they are. They can be hellions but they are my hellions, masters of madness created by my own body.
There are still days where I forget to brush my hair, or I only get to shower right before bed. In a way, I am grateful for that craziness. I have a full, rich life and I don’t want it to change. But time will march forward without a care for my wants. Every night before I go to bed, I go into their bedroom and kiss their little sleeping faces. My heart aches for their preciousness and I curse every day that they get older. I remember my daughter being two days old, and I already wanted time to stop. My father told me, “just wait, it only gets better,” and I told him I couldn’t imagine anything better than what I felt at that moment. But it was true, I love watching and learning about my children. I get to discover what they like, what’s important to them. Interact with them, watch them learn, watch them change.
But I still want time to stop.
In striving to be average, I try to keep it real. This parenting thing is hard. So damn hard. But so few people really talk about this. Everything is supposed to be sunshine and rainbows, I’m supposed to be madly in love with my children at all times of the day, have infinite patience, UN negotiation skills, never ending energy, and do it all with a smile on my face.
I am grateful that my children are in my life because my soul became complete when they were born. They have taught me what unconditional love really means, in receiving it and giving it. I am blessed so much. But let’s be realistic. I don’t always like my children.
I appreciate other parents who are willing to be honest about this struggle. Thank you for the nod of understanding when my child misbehaves. Or suggesting “it must be nap time” when my youngest had a meltdown in the grocery store, instead of just assuming he was a rotten kid. Thank you for recognizing that kids have ‘off’ days too and sometimes, we won’t even know what is going on with them until a few days later (sickness hits or a growth spurt, or they are worried about some upcoming event). Overall, my kids are very well behaved, but like us adults, they do have days where they just aren’t feeling right. It doesn’t matter what I do, most times it is beyond my control.
Thank you for the kind words when it becomes clear I’m in over my head. That even though I am an adult, with a psychology & sociology degree, I am still sometimes stumped, frustrated and anguished by the little people I created. Thank you for telling me your stories of how you have struggled, because I feel like less of a failure when you do. Thank you for being real with me.
I am not Mary Poppins, Lucille Ball and Martha Stewart all wrapped into one, and I absolutely don’t want to be. I want to be good role model for my children, I want them to be happy, healthy children, who most importantly, are given the opportunity to be children. I want my children to realize how amazing they are and that’s it’s OK to have a bad day. I can teach them how to pick themselves up, look forward, try again. In my struggle to parent, I can show them that we can always try to improve, try harder when we want to. Because I do share with them when I struggle with parenting (at least my 5 year old understands me), and I let them know when Mommy needs to try harder. I apologize when I am in the wrong – when I haven’t listened properly or I’ve yelled. I let them know I am not perfect and that they deserve to be treated with respect and love. And then I try harder.
I teach them that their actions have consequences, and are also opportunities for learning. That parents are not blank walls that can be subjected to unlimited blasts of toddler and preschool whims and tantrums. That their choices directly affect their day and the outcome of any situation. Just like it does for Mommy and Daddy.
Maybe, just maybe, by being an average parent, I can teach my children the coping skills needed for the imperfect world they live in.
I have a 5 year old daughter. Politely, she is called a “spirited child” but in reality, she’s a hurricane, and a tornado. An intense child who feels
things everything passionately. Everything. She will love you hard, she will hate you hard, her anger parallels the wrath of God. She will outsmart you in the worst possible way, because she will do it subversively. Not until she is close to her goal will I realize what she has done. She will miss you, hug you, love you, like you’ve never experienced before. To me, she is awe inspiring. A force of nature. I look at her and she takes my breath away. But it’s not easy.
This week has been particularly hard because her little brother turned three years old on Monday. That means he received presents and she didn’t. My first glimpse of this joy happened last year when she was four, and he two. I’m hoping it gets better with age. On the day itself, she did pretty well. But the week has proved very challenging. She has taken to hiding his new games. And on reprimand, the attitude comes out. Oh my, the attitude. She’s a little body with a huge personality. Often times, she just can’t control what comes out, because she feels it so fiercely. Many times, she can astound us with how controlled she can be.
She just discovered that a friend of hers colored a page of her coloring book. The unused coloring book that hasn’t been given a second glance since she received it. Ever. But suddenly, she was indignant that a page was used. Despite imparting to her that the page was used with my permission, she would not quit. There are just some things she focuses on and as with everything else of her nature, the laser beams are set.
In a fleeting thought, the ‘perfect parent’ would have sat her down and explained everything ad nauseam until she understood. Instead, I walked upstairs to do laundry after Daddy told her she couldn’t have the coloring book anymore (she never uses them, this isn’t a big loss here). She quickly followed me, hysterical, because I’m the easy parent. So I tried to do the right thing. I sat with her on my bed and I talked to her about how the used coloring page was a present from her friend, a surprise for her. But the only thing she could focus on getting that coloring book back from Daddy. Daddy took it away and she wanted Mommy to give it back.
Unfortunately, despite my calm discussions, she exploded and began something that she hasn’t done in years. She threw a tantrum. So now she sits in her room, quietly. Oddly enough, since she is an extrovert, sitting in her room (not a hardship here, there are toys and books in there) for a while seems to center her and she usually emerges a much calmer person.
I’ll take some deep breaths.
Is it bedtime yet?