19 August 2009

I might not be perfect, but...

... there are definitely some things I feel certain I will never do to my children. I mean, there are days that I feel unhinged - upset - at the end of my rope, and I may over-react to the tenth slap fight of the day between the toddler and the preschooler - I may get sarcastic when I view the daily pile of dirty dishes and recyclable cans from my middle schooler's room sitting, yet again, on the sink for me to dispose of - I may vent a bit to my husband when I've been alone all day cleaning poopy pants, wiping spilled food, picking up piles of toys and, again, breaking up those awful, awful fights. I may even sulk when I have the luxury of sitting at the pool and tennis club we belong too, but.... find myself unable to pry my little ones from the baby pool and have to sit and bake in the hot sun - no drink - no conversation - no friends in sight willing to hang out with me. And I know I've immersed myself in self-pity before over the fact that I've found boots, jeans, a cool bag, funky shoes - something I "love" online but can't buy because my allotted spending for the month went elsewhere (yes - probably the kids) and had gone elsewhere for over a year prior to that (and, of course, I should be happy to have any disposable income AT ALL).

To be fair - today was a hard day, so.... I'm mopey... and feeling ridiculous. I have my health - I have a beautiful family - I have a great life, but... I also have to admit that, yes, when I broke up at least five slugfest fights, didn't eat anything but the scraps I got off the kids' lunch and dinner plates, didn't shower and had to wear my husband's jeans again because mine don't fit, had every single phone call or conversation with the neighbors interrupted with shrill screaming or crying and then, when I thought the day had ended, had to mop up two inches of water after a particularly animated bath, had to throw away a beloved toy found broken upstairs and had to rematch all the DVDs with their covers because the baby had separated them all and thrown them all over her brothers' room - all knowing that I was missing my only favorite show, that my husband wasn't coming home until late, that my 13 year old had a more active social life than I do and that, on top of it all, I looked terrible and had a migraine coming on with no sign of Tylenol or Motrin in the house ... that, yes, I cried - I sat and cried - and I didn't / couldn't hide it from the kids - had to wipe the tears, pull myself together and say - "Mommy is just tired. Now who wants a brownie and let's pick out a book to read for bedtime in a bit."

So that's what I do - the mistakes I make on occasion ... but here's what I KNOW I won't do:

I won't ever make a child feel like his / her best effort wasn't good enough (it is OK to color outside the lines) - I will not encourage one or more in the family to laugh at another, prompting them to notice how he / she is sooooo sensitive.

I won't ever ostentatiously apologize for having a "favorite" because I find the favorite game appalling and strange and only for those looking for faults in others (and their children - tsk tsk) - in other words, I won't have a favorite.

I won't ever make any of my children feel that his / her opinion is not valid because he / she shares different political, social or other views than I do.

I will never tell one of my children that he / she has become "too independent".

I will never make any of them feel excluded because of proximity - you live far away so you are no longer welcome at my table for dinner - or you'll just have to understand that your brothers and sisters aren't going to invite you for parties or holidays anymore - I mean they live near ME, right? Wrong - it shouldn't matter.

I will never deprive any of them of the memories, the comforts, the important pieces of their lives and pasts (from posters and photos to memories of glory days on the basketball court or dance studio) that they will cherish as adults.

I will never make one feel like the "sole heir", the more loyal daughter, the oldest male, the coddled youngest, the one with the cutest grandchildren, etc. - i.e. I don't do the selfish and directed distribution of heirlooms to the worthy, and I don't deliberately make anyone feel excluded or like the proverbial "black sheep" (so many people LOVE that game - particularly with family members).

I will not turn my back on their pain. I may not understand how they feel - what they are saying to me or why they feel / need to disclose either. I will at least validate it by listening.

I will not turn my back on their love. I will try to understand that sometimes people show it in different ways. Asking to hear how much someone is like his or her father is not competing with siblings but, rather, a way to find his / her place in the family - a way to validate an intense closeness he or she might still feel even if that parent is no longer around. Trying to look on the bright side, cheerfully chiding brothers, mediating hurt feelings and misunderstandings is sometimes not pushy and "know it all" but, rather loving and / or an awkward way to show solidarity or feelings.

I will not make secret plans behind someone's back - including one sibling but not another nor will I gossip about a child and his or her spouse or children - I may discuss someone out of concern or voice an opinion, but I will not kvetch and complain until one or more people are, effectively, ostracized. The pain of feeling unwelcome when you so desperately want to belong is just terrible.

I will never administer "the silent treatment". No matter who it is - you never know how long you have with that person. Cherish all of your moments with ALL of your friends and family. Play, laugh, argue, cry - whatever - nothing will ever replace that unique relationship or that special person when it or he / she is gone.

I will never tell any of them that they or a life decision is "stupid". And - yes - people do that. On a similar note, I will never make their spouses, significant others or anyone important to them feel unworthy, unwelcome or excluded.

I will never lie to them ... though who knows what lengths I will go to to protect them....

Not everyday can be perfect, but... in the scheme of things.... they can all be pretty great. I mean, it may be maddening that our preschoolers end up in the "big bed" with Daddy and the baby ends up on the couch with me, but... I always tell my husband... someday we'll miss that cuddling and safe closeness. Mommy and Daddy make it all better.

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