|You don't have to be perfect to be an awesome parent.|
It dawned on me, last night, in the hotel, we are THOSE people. As the baby was screaming at top of his lungs and it was 11 o'clock at night, we are the ones that people cannot stand. We are the ones that most people stare at in the restaurant while youngest chucks food at us and middle child is singing us some new song she learned. Oldest is typically hunched in the corner wishing on everything that we are about to tell him he is really adopted, and he has no real ties to this insane family. The husband and I are typically rolling with the punches and making the best of it. Getting pissy does no good, so we generally just don't do it anymore.
The issue is, I still feel like I am a teenager. Okay, maybe not first thing in the morning, but definitely like thirty or so minutes after I crawl out of bed. In those thirty or so minutes, I come face to face with these little creatures that live in my house. Then, it hits me. When did I get old enough to be responsible for three children? Who in their right mind would have ever thought I could take care of an animal, let alone a child. The thing is, I am really good at it, most days.
I don't feel old enough to be a mom. I don't feel anywhere near capable enough to be a mom. Maybe that is why I constantly feel like I am failing. In my head, I am still that carefree teenager who never had the answers. Now, it is twenty years later and I am just as clueless as I was then. People always talk about the parenting handbook. Why the hell haven't they made it yet? Every time I think I have this mom gig figured out, the kiddos throw a wrench in it.
Every once in a while something clicks when you meet someone, and that something will alter the rest of your life...forever.
So, the husband and I met way back in high school. He was adorable and had dimples. I was incredibly shy and backward. He and I were friends, but he was actually dating one of my best friends. After they broke up, I took him to the prom because I felt sorry for him. Since I am the one penning this, I can put whatever spin on it I choose. Actually, we both decided to go together because it seemed like a lot of effort to find real dates. I was incredibly excited because I had the world's biggest crush on him. He just seemed ambivalent. We went to the prom, and I swear I am the only girl to have never gotten kissed on prom night. To this day, I still give the husband a hard time about it.
Yesterday we hit that sad point our family reaches every summer. It is marked by the husband's birthday, July 16. So, each summer everything leading up to that point is "after school is over". After July 16, is "before school starts".
So as of today, it is all downhill, sliding into the next school year at full speed. I am bummed out. Where the hell is the summer going so fast? I swear the kids just got out of school. Now, every store I walk into there are lunch boxes and notebooks greeting me at the door.
Yesterday I was sitting on our front patio talking to middle child. A group of kids walked by and she got very sad and quiet. It took her a bit, but finally she told me what the problem was. "I want a group of friends like that, but everyone just leaves me out of everything," she told me, "my cats are my only friends, but they can't talk."
I told her, "That isn't true at all, I am your best friend and I always will be."
She replied, "It isn't the same, mom. You have to be my mom, not my friend." She is right, and I didn't have a response. I wanted to cry, as my heart broke for her.
As a parent, I want to fix everything. I want to make everything better by putting a band -aid on it and giving it a quick kiss. Unfortunately, middle child is reaching the age that her problems won't be fixed so easily.
Daily, I struggle with balancing my duties as a mother and everything else in my life. It is a horrible feeling, the desire to fulfill yourself as a person but knowing that it is at the detriment of your children. Years ago, I made the decision to give up a career to stay at home with my kiddos. There is no more difficult, yet more rewarding job than being a stay at home parent. Even though I am content with my position as my kid's mommy, I felt like I needed more. I had a drive to use some of the brain cells that were dying off daily from the lack of adult conversation. I wanted to contribute to our family in more ways than I was.
I remember a time when I lived alone, and I took it for granted. I was young and so oblivious to how fortunate I was. I could walk around naked and no one complained. There was no one to barge into the bathroom when I was peeing. I could sleep until noon and it didn't matter. I wasn't responsible for anyone but me. I kind of have roommates now, and they are awful. Times have changed.
I remember when I first had oldest child, I was a helicopter mom. The child couldn't sneeze without me running him to the doctor. He had to have the best toys, the cutest outfits, and the most adorable everything. I read books on the best way to burp him, the safest way to potty train, and how not to screw him up too bad. I don't believe I finished that book, come to think of it. I would talk to him endlessly, and he learned at a very early age to roll his eyes at me. I admit, I annoyed myself, I was one of those parents.
In any relationship there are times that you find yourself in a lull, right? Times where kids, work, friends, everything else seems to come before each other. I know it happens, it has happened to us. I hate that it has, but instead of letting it go on we changed it.
Our general rule of thumb is: if no one is going to die because we don't do it, then it doesn't HAVE to get done. Because of this rule, we find much more "us" time and much more "family" time. This adds much more balance to our family. We also realize that in order for our kiddos to be happy, the husband and I need to be happy. Our relationship needs to be healthy and needs to be a priority.