Wednesday, June 27, 2012

mommie dearest

I can tell it's been a difficult day when the kids start to cut a wide circle around me around dinner time. I just now came up to my bedroom, and Griffin was watching something on the Science Channel; I told him he was welcome to stay and watch, but he said no thanks and slipped out as quickly and quietly as he could.

Ahh, my fault. It's been one of those days when they know that there's just about nothing they can do right. One of those days when we all know it's best for all involved if we just kind of do our own thing and start fresh again tomorrow.

God, I love my kids. And I think it's that love that sends me off the deep end. Sometimes I am so desperate to help my kids make the right choices (and to not make asses of themselves) that I am correcting, disciplining, and redirecting at every corner. At the end of such a day, I usually end up scolding myself, and praying that my kids forgive me.

But let's be honest here. Mostly they probably just think I'm a pain in the butt. They think, Mom's on one today, we had better just steer clear. I have finally learned the art of reminding myself that I'm not perfect; but what I've yet to fully embrace is that my kids aren't perfect either, and I cannot expect them to be. I mean, if I'm talking about it, writing about it, or thinking about it, of course I know they aren't perfect; but when it comes to day-to-day parenting, it's awfully easy to expect perfection.

To complicate things, because I have such a tight marriage, the second Larry gets home from work he picks up on my vibe and is immediately in the same place as me. One case where one of our greatest gifts is a curse. So then, the kids have the both of us all over them for the slightest infraction. Sorry kids, double whammy.

So sometimes, like today, I have to pull Larry aside and say, you know what? I've been a total bitch today. Please, please be the good guy.

Such good babies.
And the kids? They all handle it differently. Griffin is officially a teenager - and while he is most definitely not your typical defiant teen, he is indeed starting to explore his his boundaries and is willing to push back a little. Enough to where Larry and I are taken aback - he's our oldest, our first teen, so we're still learning how to handle his budding independence. A careful balance between respect for his right to an opinion, while retaining our position as his parents and the voice of wisdom.

Olivia is, unfortunately, just as stubborn as Larry and I. Which means that sometimes she bears the brunt of our frustration. If she believes something, she just. can't. let. go. Gee, wonder where she got that? That firey, strong, sassy personality will serve her well one day, once she's learned proper limits. So right now, Larry and I see it as our responsibility to teach her where that fine line is between standing up for yourself and taking it too far. The process can be tough - but we're trying.

And Connor? Barely a peep. God love that boy. He's so sensitive to the vibe of the family, he'll do whatever is needed to help keep the peace. He never rocks the boat, and makes a very genuine effort to move into the fray when things get hairy. Rarely is he the object of our frustration, but he often steps up and takes the heat along with his siblings when we are on a tear. We have to be so careful to make sure he speaks up for himself. Those wheels are always turning, but he's not quick to share.

So complicated. And being a parent is so flippin' hard. And do you know what? When all is said and done, especially when times are tough, they teach me as much about myself as they do about themselves.   

Clearly, I had one of those days today; hence this post, and the large margarita (now empty) sitting next to my computer. I think we've repaired most of the damage, and we'll start fresh tomorrow. My kids know I'm human. Very, very human. I've talked with them about where I screwed up today, and how we might all think about how we can interact better tomorrow. Yep - I apologized.

In this moment I'm keenly aware of how often we wing it as parents. Despite the scads of books in the massive parenting section at the local bookstore chain, the fact is that when our kids piss us off, warranted or not, we react, often impulsively. And I don't know about you, but my reaction usually has far more to do with what kind of day I've had, how many bills I'm able to pay, how many freelance jobs I have backed up, and what day of the month it is (hello, PMS). When I am ready to tear into my kid, I don't think, hmm....what would Dr. Spock do? I react. And my reaction is most definitely not always right.

So, hopefully, we apologize to our kids. And I think that, if I'm totally honest, the truth is that I partly do it to make myself feel better, and ease the guilt. But mostly it's to make sure they know that I know I was wrong. And, when we apologize, we also teach our babies that it's okay to make mistakes...and that when we do, it's important to acknowledge them.

So here's to a fresh day tomorrow. And another margarita now that they're all in bed.

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