….just a reminder, in case you’re moving about your day in a frantic pace. SLOW DOWN. Whatever it is you’re racing to or from, you’ll get there. Whatever it is you need to do, it will get done. SLOW DOWN. Inhale, exhale. Be graceful. Be calm. SLOW DOWN. Breathe. Life is short enough…why speed through it????
I gotta admit, I think some of the things that drive me insanely crazy about my children might actually be the things that make them most similar to yours truly. I suppose I thought some of my good and not-so-good traits would show-up a little bit later in their lives – you know, like when they’re horribly obnoxious teenagers stock-piled with attitude, a la moi circa 1990. Now I can see that some of what they each inherited from me has been there all along. From day one, they were born this way, just as I was too. And though I’m certain they are definitely their own, individual people, I can’t help but recognize, often daily, both fabulous characteristcs that I’m so proud they share with me, but also some flaws that I wish weren’t in the collective DNA either. Nature or nurture? Who really knows…I’ve always thought a little bit of both.
So, what is a mama to do when she recognizes her own negative traits in her daughters? Weep in agony and horror that they’ve inherited my “bad stuff?” Or do I accept that this is a parenting inevitability? Is it too late? Can I reverse some of these traits? Make them disappear? Capitalize and optimize the strengths? And down-play what I see as weaknesses that my gene pool has bestowed upon them? So many questions circling through my head. Oh, and yeah, in case you were wondering, this over-analyzing, endless deconstructing, constant mental garbage, brain-on-overload thing, yep, it’s genetic too…and I can clearly see which one of my girls is already similar to me in that regard.
Always Camera-Ready, Just Like Her Mama (shy, she is NOT! : )
I suppose the answer is this: there’s not a damn thing I can do. Seriously. We are wired the way we’re wired and except for modeling positive, respectful and intelligent emotional behavior, the rest of it is pretty much a crap shoot. I could be perfect as humanly possible each and everyday in front of my daughters. I could be endlessly patient, compromising, softspoken, well-rested, gentle and low-key. I could play that part, it would be a stretch for sure, but I could do it if I wanted to. But I honestly think that despite what would be my very best efforts to alleviate those parts of myself that come quite naturally to me, one or both of my daughters would still turn out to be insomniatic, outspoken, opinionated, loud, defiant and stubborn like their mother. Like I said, the good with the bad.
Hey, I’m not knocking myself. Believe me. I’ve got plenty of goodness in this heart of mine and lots of characteristics I’m quite proud to possess. And confidence, oh lots of confidence, which my gals ain’t lacking for sure. I don’t want to them to shy away from life. As much as it might be tough to swallow as their mother watching from the sideline, I do want them to be fearless and take risks and not back down from challenges they may face. This is incredibly important to me.
So this is what I’ve decided: that despite the fact that my daughters (probably thanks in part to their mother here) can be incredibly loud, verbal, willful, tempermental and dramatic, they can also thank me too when they are funny, smart, loyal, creative, strong, independent and trustworthy. Maybe not so bad after all, eh?
Cried thru every single swim lesson, BUT NEVER QUIT.
(and now swims like a happy fish…just like her mama!)
Me and My Sweet D.
I am feeling such a swirling mix of emotions right now. Man, oh man…what is it about these little girls of mine that send me into such a tailspin of emotion? I like to think that I’m a strong person, fierce even. I’m the kind of woman who can handle whatever you throw at her without batting an eye. Or so I was until these little beings came into my life. Now, most of the time, I feel like a big pile of mush who can’t deal with how they often make me feel.
And today, I really didn’t deal well at all. This morning, I was “that” mom. You know, the crazy mom who sat blubbering like an idiot in her car parked on the curb outside camp drop-off. Why? Oh it probably seems silly to some…but I’m learning everyday that when my kids are involved, “silly” turns very quickly into “serious.”
Most days I parent with confidence and calm, but every now and again I have a morning like today where my confidence disappears and all that’s left is this person totally afraid that the tiniest decision I made might end up having negative consequences on my daughters in the future. Today, I lost all perspective and let my daughter’s reaction dictate my actions. Hence, turning into the lunatic mom that I so often try not to be.
Happy and Silly Together
I’m only human, and it actually wasn’t a big deal, but at the time I felt so horrible and seeing my baby cry was like daggers to my heart. I had D in the carpool line for camp and all was fine. She goes to one camp and her sister goes to the other and they both have the same start time so I have to do the quick drop-off routine for both. D saw that her little friend’s mom was walking her in instead of going through the line and letting the counselor retrieve her from my car and something just set off inside her.
One minute the car is happy and calm and the next my baby is bawling and sad and begging for me to pull over and walk her inside too. Enter the daggers slamming into my heart at warp speed. I know I can’t walk her in because the car door is already opening and a cute little teenager is coming to help her out of the car. There’s a ton of people waiting behind us and I have to get A over to her camp on time too. I panic, I feel terrible, I make a quick decision in the moment (that immediately I regret).
“You’ll be just fine, D,” I soothingly try to reassure her. I help her out of the car, give her a quick hug, hand someone her backpack and lunch, turn around and jump back in the car speeding away, feeling horrible. I don’t even want to look back as the lump is growing in my throat and my eyes begin to water. What the hell is the matter with me?
A is in the back seat asking me if I’m fine and I tell her I am and that I just feel bad that D was so upset. It’s a big juggling act, you see, because I don’t want my other daughter to ever feel guilty that because we have to rush to get her to camp that it’s somehow her fault that her sister was so upset. Do you get how this is going in my head? The over-thinking? The endless analyzing? All of a sudden, it feels like what I did to D, not walking her in, perpetuating her crying and sadness by my decision to move on instead of pull over and honor her request (which she never once has asked of me since camp began) is somehow going to adversely effect her future well being. As if when she’s an adult she’ll have these awful flashbacks of Mommy pulling the car away from her while she sobs sadly without me.
And this is how my daughters break my heart. They get to me. They have a way of making these small, insignificant decisions feel gargantuan. This isn’t something anyone ever tells you before you have children. No one warns you that one day not too far off you’ll be racing from one carpool line to the next only to find yourself driving all the way back to the first camp to race inside and check to make sure your daughter whom you left crying fifteen minutes earlier is okay without you.
And of course, she was. I ran downstairs at camp to her little room only to find her sitting in a circle with her pals singing her little group cheer as if all her previous crying and sadness were just a figment of my imagination. I stood there in the doorway watching her as I caught my breath and realized the intense range of emotions that I was feeling and I couldn’t help but be amazed at the power this little child has over me….how no one else could make me feel this way.
Why did it seem like the end of the world if I didn’t run back there to make sure she was okay? Why did I have to see it for myself that my baby wasn’t still crying? What is that inexplicable panic that set in when I drove away from her twenty minutes earlier that made me feel so lousy inside?
I think there’s only one word that can truly sum it up: mom. I’m her mama. I’m her touchstone…I’m the one person in the world who can make it better and I drove away and let her down. Did I ruin her life? No. Will she resent me forever? Of course not. Will she even remember this morning’s incident by this afternoon when I pick her up? Probably not. But I will. And that’s why I drove back over there and gave her another hug.
I had to take the sting out of it – for both of us. But what I realized when I arrived back at camp was that I bore the brunt of that sting more than my daughter. She was fine. She had moved on and was no longer sad. It was me who was still sad. It was me who needed her. I couldn’t go on about my day without knowing she was happy…because so much of my happiness is centered around hers. Knowing that both of my daughters are happy translates into my own happiness. It’s crazy, but so so true.
These little creatures I brought into the world hold so much power over me. It leaves me breathless. And as D was walking out with her group to the morning flagpole sing-a-along, she turned and ran back and gave me one more big hug. And it was most precious to me. It said in one tiny embrace, “thank you, mommy, for coming back to check on me, I’m just fine, I love you and you will be just fine too.”
I love this kid so much that on days like today, it actually hurts.