Monday, February 4, 2008

Parenting from the Heart

Before I ever had kids, I envisioned that being a Mom would be a sort of idyllic paradise where the kids would be beautiful and healthy, I would walk the path of parenting calmly, I could instill in my offspring my (previous) virtues of patience and diplomacy, and we would all enjoy the vast array of fun that life has to offer.

The realities of parenting are an iron-cold slap in the face.

When you are expecting your first child, people congratulate you and tell you how much joy you’ll experience as a parent. They’ll tell you wonderful stories about their own children and how rich and full their lives have become. They’ll say neat little things like “Your life will never be the same and in a good way,” or “Children are such blessings,” thus leaving you satisfied in your decision to be a parent.

I am guessing that the reason people don’t say things like “Children will make you rip your hair from your head,” or “You will never go anywhere again without forgetting the 2 items you actually needed while hauling 17 other items you don’t really need,” or “You’ll spend the next 13 or so years picking up toys and clothes and food and cups in an endless cycle of repetition that will leave you squirrely in the head,” is that to terrify you into not having children will leave them without anyone to commiserate with in the future.

If I had known that being a Mama consists largely of being interrupted 1,179 times per hour, repeatedly cleaning up messes that seem to breed by the minute, and feeling exasperated nearly all hours of the day, I might have considered just getting another puppy. However, the clock cannot be reversed, and as such I must forge on with the realities of being a Mama, and try my damnedest to do my best.

By the time my first born was 3, I discovered that there is nothing terrible about the 2s, and that no one warned me about the 3s. There are not enough adjectives that begin with T to describe them: troublesome, tormenting, torrential, trial-like, terrifying…other letters of the alphabet must be explored.

I discovered I had no idea how to handle this bundle of trouble, and thus I began a search for books to help me untangle myself from the web of chaos I felt I’d been caught up in. Not wanting to be a repeat of my own parents, I’ve sought resources on parenting that seem to be in line with my heart.

And thus begins the challenge~~ how to parent from the heart, while not going crazy in the process.

As an example, I was busy getting dishes done the other morning (about 7:23 am) when my eldest daughter came up to me as said, “Let’s go somewhere. NOW!” My hands were fully immersed in the liquid grease-soap-shmegma that was encrusted to the bottom of the casserole dish from the previous night’s dinner. I calmly rinsed my hands, looked her in the eye and said, “Honey, it’s not even 7:30. After I’m done with the dishes, and tidying up a bit, maybe we can figure out what we’d like to do today,” To which she replied loudly, “I want to do something NOW, let’s go. I want to go NOW.”

I shrugged my shoulders, and said calmly (while grimacing inside), “I’ll be done in a few.”

She ambled on and then things got really quiet. At first I was relieved that she’d found some activity to enthrall her for a few more minutes while I finished the menial task at hand. And then I began to get nervous. It seemed unusually quiet. My nerves started to go on red alert, and I rinsed off in order to set out and see what was going on.

To my horror, there she was in the bathroom, scissors in hand, and grinning from ear to ear. “Look how nice Sister’s hair looks!” she shouted in glee. And there was my 2 year old with freshly butchered bangs and sides. A real live mullet. It has only taken 2 years and 3 months for my 2 yr. old’s hair to obtain the minor length that it was, and it was all removed in less time than it took for me to walk from the kitchen to the bathroom.

What is a Mama to do? What would you do? What would Scooby Do?

I’m going to explore this range of emotions I’ve felt all weekend, and hope for a less-challenging week. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the snow.

1 comment:

Jimbo said...

Having once been a child, I admire anyone who will have one.

I'm not sure my parents ever really recovered from the day I decided to test out my backward art skills using a red magic marker and a mirror to come up with some really cool tribal tatoos (decades before they were even cool mind you) all over my face like a Zulu warrior.

Have you any idea how long it takes magic marker to "wear" off of facial skin?

Ho, ho!

That happened, I think, sometime when I was around six or seven.

Oh the many blessings you have in store...