Category: Confessions of a Momma
You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.
– Louise Smith
After years of mental and emotional preparation, the day was finally here – my son’s graduation.
(Photo from http://free-extras.com/search/2/basketball.htm)
And a mom should never have to do that.
My worst nightmare goes like this:
Our vehicle plunges off of a bridge and into icy cold, deep waters. I have just mere seconds to save my children – six of them. There is no way I can save them all. Who do I choose? Who do I save first and then, who do I come back for after I save the first few?
Ugggh!!! Awful! I get chills just thinking about it! But it is an awful nightmare I have, and I hope I never actually experience it.
I had a mini-version nightmare this weekend. And it was a very good, happy situation. But I was still forced to choose between my boys.
My oldest, a senior, was playing in a real, live, stadium. His basketball team had made it a few games in to the play-offs. He was out of the high school gyms, out of the college gyms, and now in to a stadium. A very neat experience. If they won, they moved on. If they lost, they were out of the play-offs.
It’s a huge deal. His team had never made it this far before. He was a senior. They had a very real chance of making it to state. If they lost, it would be his last game. Forever. Nothing in the world could keep me from missing this.
Except, maybe, his little brother. Who also had a tournament. In a tiny little town, in a tiny little school. His brother is 11. He’s in 5th grade. This is his last game of the season, and it’s a tournament. He will get a medal if he wins, ribbons if he gets 2nd or 3d. He will play another game next year. And he does not grasp how important this play-off game is to his big brother.
In the 11-yea-old’s world, this tournament game is IT right now. He is so pumped, so excited. He put last year’s 2nd place medal around his neck, to inspire himself and his teammates to give it their all!
I can only go to one game. They play at the same time, in two different towns. Ugh!! Why do they do this to parents? I shouldn’t have to choose!
After a lot of careful thinking, I rationally chose to go to the 11-year-old’s. I had to leave my heart out of the decision, because, if I’m totally honest with myself, I wanted desperately to be at my senior’s play-off game. Desperately. He wanted me there. Needed me there. It was a huge deal to him, and to our community. Everybody was going.
And that’s what helped me with my decision. Everyone was going. He would have his dad, his 14 year old brother, his 3 year old brother, his aunt and his cousin there. All of his friends and the whole student body would be there.
My 11-year-old would have no one at his tournament – no one – to watch and support him, if I didn’t go. In my eyes, his tournament was not as important as the varsity play-off game. In his eyes, it was the only thing in his world – at the moment. He needed me. And so I went.
It killed me. My family kept me updated on the varsity game. I prayed and prayed that they would win – that I didn’t just miss my son’s last game ever.
My 11-year-old got third place! He was so happy and excited! He played well – he is going to be a good little basketball player when he gets older.
My sweet, understanding senior lost his game. They are done for the season. And I missed it. I was crushed. (Not more than he was, I’m sure. But still, it hurt.)
What could I do? What would you have done? Please, let me know. Leave me a comment and describe any similar situations you have had, and how you handled it.
(And any terrifying dreams you may have!)
And I have been. Since the day he was born.
I admit, there were some rocky points in our relationship. No doubt. I never met a more stubborn, persistent, absolutely contradictory person in my entire life. Seriously. He’d argue, just for the sake of arguing. And to prove it, in one argument, I told him he’d probably tell me the sky was white if I said it was blue. He immediately left the argument at hand to pursue a new argument about just how white the sky actually is! His brother and I just sat and laughed. What else could we do?
Oh could he ever be frustrating. And exhausting. He used to talk from the minute he got up until the minute he went to bed. Every day. He was so stinkin’ full of life and fight! Those years when he was little, life was a roller coaster. I would go from being so totally wrapped up in his little charming eyes, to so absolutely furious that I was outside, screaming on the front porch in pure anger, to so frustrated that I was sobbing out of desperation, and back to being so totally wrapped up in his charming little eyes again….all in one evening!
I’d vent, to anyone close to me, about how frustrating he could be. They’d laugh and agree. They’d seen it. Well, some of it. He was a good kid, after all. He knew when to put his public face on. But, after venting, I’d wind up talking about how incredibly adorable he is. And how charming he could be. And how, once he realized how cute he was, and learned how to turn the charm on, he’d be unstoppable.
It took him a long time to realize how cute he was. Which is funny, really, because he grew up listening to me talk about how cute he was day in and day out. I’m not prejudiced or anything, just because he is my own son. Those who knew him would vouch for me – he was absolutely adorable. 🙂 And I guess most wouldn’t call him adorable now. Handsome, maybe. But to me, he will always be absolutely adorable.
Why, after all these years, am I still in love with him? Because he is still so stinkin’ full of life and fight! Thankfully he has learned how to channel his….er…..gifts….. A little more than in his younger years. His stubbornness….oh yeah, that’s still there. It shows up in the form of persistence. He told me at the beginning of the football season that his goal was to play Varsity. He is in the ninth grade. You just don’t walk on to the field and expect to play varsity in ninth grade. At the end of the season, not only was he playing varsity, but he was starting varsity. Stubbornness? Persistence? Call it what you want. It works for him.
Contradictory? Argumentative? I’d like to call it persuasive. He knows what he wants and he is going to get it. He’ll start out by asking for what he wants. If he’s shot down, he’ll dip in to his other skills. He will start with reason. When that doesn’t work, he’ll argue. Watch out there – he has years of practice. He’ll beat you. And if he’s discovering that he’s on the bottom, about to lose the argument, he’ll pull out the charm…. and you just lost. Of course, the effect is better on females than males, but I’ve seen a grandpa or two fall victim as well!
And exhausting? Absolutely! I get exhausted just watching him now! He go go goes all day long. It’s just one adventure to the next. And at the end of the day, you will hear all about it. He still talks a lot. 🙂 He has so much to say! But it is so fun to listen to now. His thoughts and theories and stories are hilarious! He has an amazing sense of humor. And he is still so full of life. Oh, if I had just an ounce of his energy! His eyes twinkle – literally – when he is excited (and cloud over when he is angry!).
I love to pick him out on the basketball court. That tall, dark handsome one? Yup, he’s mine. The one dodging players and doing summer saults? Yep, I claim him. That one that is so crazy passionate and energetic about everything he does? Yep, that’s my boy. That one that absolutely cracks me up? Oh yeah. I’ll claim him!!
(Photo from creativefan.com)
New Year…New You! Isn’t that the saying? Well, how about “New Year, New Momma!” 🙂
I have had some time to do some thinking over the past couple of weeks. I like to think while I’m washing dishes, cooking supper, baking up all the holiday treats, making the Christmas meal, or traveling for the Holidays. So I had a lot of time to think!
And so it hit me, while I was traveling. I am no longer an active momma.
Sure, I’m active in life. I try to exercise. Occasionally. 😉 I play with my kids. A lot. I keep up the house work. I am an active person. But I am not an active parent.
I realized this as I was busy trying to come up with something to write about on the drive to Duluth. I was trying to utilize my drive time. My husband, however, was entertaining the kids. But not just entertaining them. He was interacting with them. He was, dare I say, engaging them.
“Look at those pipes!” He exclaims.
“Why are they just sitting on the tracks?” The three-year old asks.
“Because they are waiting for Harvey to come unload them,” answers my husband.
“Where is Sir TopHam Hat?” asks the three-year-old.
“Back in Goodridge, having a cup of tea. But he’ll be here shortly with his henchmen, to tell Harvey how to do it.”
And so the story went. It really was quite entertaining. And it made me realize, I don’t actively parent my children anymore. I just do what is necessary. I bathe them. I feed them. I play with them. Change diapers. Pick up toys. Talk with them. And answer about a zillion questions. Repeatedly. To anyone outside of my head, it absolutely looks like I am interacting with my children, and then some. But my head knows better.
How did I discover this? Because my three-year old asked, “Why did we pass that red car?” And I automatically answered “Because he was too slow.” Meanwhile, my mind was wondering, ‘what red car? I didn’t notice a red car.’ Come to think of it, I don’t notice a lot of things. (One of the twins had a bite mark on his wrist last night. How did that get there?)
Do you ever drive home on auto pilot? Your body just drives the car and gets you there, while your mind is a million miles away? That is how I parent. Well, how I parent now. Not how I used to parent. How I have parented the last three. In the last three years. Sigh.
So, you say? What difference does it make? I still have good kids. I still get compliments while out in public on how well-behaved they are. Why should it matter if I am only half-listening when they talk? Or if I am rushing the story on a Minecraft Map because a diaper needs to be changed? They still grow up to be wonderful young men. Right?
Most likely. But this isn’t about them becoming everything I’ve dreamed about (and more). This is about our relationship. The parent-child relationship. This is about them knowing that I care when they have something to say. That if something is important to them, it is important to me. The 11-year-old’s Minecraft game is just as important (as it certainly is, in his world) as a poopy diaper to the one-year-old. The acceptance letter to college for the 17 year-old is just as important as the preschool admissions paperwork for the three-year-old.
Keeping my mind on them, actively listening to what they are saying, or actively tuning in while we are playing, giving them my 100% undivided attention, is important. It is the difference between an old, tired momma, just trying to keep her kids alive until they are 18, and an old, tired mom who values the journey with them, who loves and enjoys every step of the way. 🙂
So, for 2016, I am going to challenge myself to be an active parent once again. I am going to practice being fully engaged with my children. I am going to give them eye contact when they talk to me. I am going to put down my tasks and listen while they talk. I am going to direct my mind on them, not on what my next chore is, or how I’m going to fit in exercising today, or what I’m going to write about. I am going to live in the here and now, with them, experiencing life as they experience it. I am going to be attentive. And fully engaging.
I am going to go answer that crying baby. 😉
Oh…..if I had a dollar for every time I have heard the words “she sure has her hands full!”, well, I’d have a lot of dollars! Not enough to be rich, but enough to maybe buy me a burger at McDonald’s! 😉
Every Monday for the first year, my mom tried to be there to help me with my grocery shopping. My mom would take the two year old in her cart and go. She’d run her errands and he’d love that time with grandma, away from ‘the babies’. I’d take the twins, one in the front (in his car seat) and one in the basket (in his car seat). And then I’d pile my groceries around them. I used to think shopping with one baby was difficult. It’s funny – “difficult” is just your perspective. Looking back, shopping with one baby was a breeze!
It didn’t always work out, though, for my mom to be there. And on other days, I was simply just too stubborn, and didn’t want to have to rely on her. I wanted to manage on my own. And manage I did. Just barely. 😉
The first time out, I was prepared for it to take all day. And it did. Loading and unloading alone took almost a half hour in the beginning. I don’t remember which Grandma timed it, but one of them did.
Halfway through Walmart, that first time out, we had to take a bathroom and bottle break on the bench in the back of the store. Other times, I simply pushed one cart with my hip, balanced a bottle on a blanket (that was so hard for me to learn! I always believed a baby should never have a bottle “propped up”. After having two, I learned it is a necessity!) and pulled the other cart behind me. Yes, we shopped with two carts. The two year old was not quite able to walk along in the store. He did think we made a lovely train though!
Sometimes, I’d have a baby in my arms, because they don’t always just sit nicely in their car seat carriers, unfortunately. And then I’d push one cart a step or two, reach back and pull the other a step or two, and continue on. I’m sure there is an easier way to do it, but I didn’t know it. And was too exhausted to be creative.
And I’m sure we were a fine sight to see!
Thus, all the comments. Some people would just come right up to me and tell me that it looked like I ‘had my hands full’. Others would whisper it as I passed by. For the first few months or so, I thought it was funny. I thought, “Yes, that’s right! Look at me! I can manage just fine!” as I inched along through the stores. I imagined their awe as I passed by.
But eventually the feeling of ‘super mom’ wore off. And I got tired of hearing their comments. I’m not sure why, really. The onlookers all meant well. They weren’t saying anything to be mean. And I wasn’t taking it as anything mean. I was just tired of being the “side show”, as my husband describes us. (Everywhere we go now, we are a spectacle. Try sneaking in to church a little late with eight people – it just doesn’t happen.) I just wanted to go to the store and go home without drawing so much attention to myself. Is that too much to ask?
Yes. Because I really do have my hands full. There’s no doubt about that! And if I had a dollar for all the times I heard that….
One of these days, when I have time to visit with those folks in the store, I’m going to tell them, “You don’t know the half of it! It may look like I have my hands full now, but I actually left the other half of my family at home!”