A few months ago, I wrote a post about what I know about parenting. It was a brief post to be sure, you can read it in its entirety here, but there were some highlights.
- This shiggity is hard.
- If you wonder whether you’re doing a good job, you probably are.
- If you have more than one child, you’re going to need more than one parenting style.
- This shiggity is hard.
Yes, the level of difficulty that comes with parenting bear repeating. Just when I think I’ve got something figured out, a switch-up ensues. I’m trying to raise kind, conscientious, mentally strong contributing members of society. When they start fighting with each other over who has more Frosted Mini Wheats in their cereal bowl and why it’s not fair they have to wash their faces everyday when they just washed them yesterday morning, I wonder if I’ll even live long enough to see the fruits of my labor. I’m perpetually thisclose to just opening the front door and walking out.
Before you call child protective services on me, I’m not really going to walk out. If anyone’s leaving, it’s them. Kidding!
The truth is, we’ve been having a rough few days. Add to that Spring Break is lurking in the doorways, reminding me that I have no plans whatsoever. On the one hand, I have an old school parenting mentality that tells me it’s not my job to entertain my children. They have each other. They have toys and books and games and outside! Yes, outside! Fresh air and bikes and scooters and balls, bats, and gloves. Go forth, young woman and play!
When they’ve got friends who say, “My idea of camping is staying in a crappy hotel,” they are less than inclined.
On the other hand, I’ve got a more modern (?) take on parenting, where I want for my kids to have what I’ve had and better. In my head, I’ve got a tentative plan that includes a movie day, mani/pedi day, spring shoe shopping day, and a science museum day. We’ll go out to lunch! We’ll hit up Starbucks! We’ll go to Barnes & Noble AND the library! We’ll take #usies and blow up people’s Instagram feeds!
I haven’t shared this with the girls, though, because inevitably what happens is while I’m kind of jazzed by my own ideas, their faces go from bright and shiny to dull and disappointed as I tick off each option. It never fails; whenever I have shared with them what I think is going to be a super-fun-happy-cool time, the words have barely left my mouth before they’re asking me if they can do something else.
This is where I go back to the whole parenting is hard thing. I think I’m cultivating an attitude of gratitude in my girls, but when their response is “meh” or “what else is there?”, I start to question what I’ve been doing the last ten years. When I treat them to something unexpected and they’ve still got their hands out for more, I wonder which chapter in the manual I must have skipped because I’ve done everything else and now we’re here.
I can admit it, my feelings get hurt (insert sad trombone noise). And then I spend my copious free time unraveling the threads of my parenting choices trying to figure out which one created the wonky pattern in the fabric.
I would have loved to have had a week of adventures and day trips with my mom growing up. And did I mention that V will still in be in school while M&C are off for the week? Big Girl/Mommy time is hard to come by. Unless I hit them with 1) Great Wolf Lodge 2)Any Disney theme park 3) 10 days at a Sandals/Beaches/sun and surf all-inclusive resort, they want no parts of it.
God forbid I mention a visit to the grandparents in good ol’ Chesapeake.
M said one of her friends, who is going to Orlando for the break, offered to text her everyday so that, “It would be like you’re right here with me!” Yeah, no, little girl. Don’t do that. I beg of you.
Parenting means making hard choices, right? I’d love to have some sun and surf over spring break. It would be nice to bring the girls along, too. However, that’s not a choice we can make right now (the degree of how hard it is to make this particular choice is moot). What I’m offering is still way more than a bunch of other kids get to experience. I hate that I even have to compare us to anyone else. I have tried to explain (?!) to the girls why we are going to do the activities that I’ve picked out. I’m the adult and I’m explaining my choices to my children. What is happening here?! A parenting choice, I guess. I’m choosing to get into this explanation foray in a foolish attempt to make them — and me — feel better.
Really, it’s me just saying, “This is what we are doing because this is what works for our family.”
Behind those words, I’m really saying, “Look, I know you want to go away. I want to go away, too. But, we’re not going away, so I’m trying to make the next few days as enjoyable for all of us as possible because I’m your mom and I love you and I don’t want you to resent me when you’re older and decide that despite your myriad of success and strengths, you do have an Achilles Heel and whatever it is, it is directly related to the fact that your mother never took you to Beaches to swim with the dolphins when you were 10.”
Whew. I know it’s not true, but that’s what on my heart. I’m doing the best I can and I just don’t want to mess up these little souls that have been entrusted to me.
At the end of the day, I stand by what I said before: If you wonder whether you’re doing a good job, you probably are. There are days when I feel like I’m treading water with anchors on my ankles. I have no idea what I’m doing, I don’t want to make another kid friendly meal. I can’t listen to the Teen Titans Go! theme song any more. I’m about to install a regulation sized boxing ring in the backyard rather than mediate another who-said-what-to-whom or who’s-breathing on-whom-type conflagration. When I’m over saturated with motherhood, that’s when I stop and think, “Am I even doing a good job? How could I be when it feels like I’m in the eye of the storm?” But I have to believe the mere fact that I stop to wonder that, or wonder what I can do in order to survive the storm, makes me think I’m doing okay. And if I need to hide out in the bathroom for 10 or 15 minutes just scrolling through my Instagram feed until I feel better, then that’s what I need to do.
See you in 15. . .