Monday, May 9, 2011

On Mothers

Ah, Mother's Day.

It was... another day. And I like it that way.
But it gave me some time to think.

I've had a lot of conversations in the past few weeks with a variety of people about the problems of motherhood.
Having a mother.
Being a mother.
Wanting to be a mother.
Not wanting to be a mother.
It has made me think.

But, as usual I have been unable to organize my thoughts.

Leave it to Buddy to bring it all together for me.

He knows how to celebrate a holiday.

Yesterday Buddy spent the day saying (and shouting) the following:

Mother's Day is WAME (well, LAME, but he can't say L's very well yet).
Mom's are stupid.
I hate Mother's Day.
You are the meanest Mother every and I won't celebrate you.
I have a rotten Mom.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

I won't lie, it hurt my feelings.
It hurt my feelings to the point that while I was making some tortilla chips out of corn tortillas (SO EASY and YUM) and he was ranting and raving that I was a total jerk because I wouldn't let him have dinner until he cleared his plates from lunch (in my "defense", there was nowhere to put dinner plates until he moved the lunch plates, but who cares about that logic, right?), I decided that I didn't have to do nice things for someone who was mean to me.

I ended up telling him that it was very sad that he didn't clear his plates like his sister did and it was very sad that he was so mean to me all day because I was too sad to give him chips. On top of that, I was too sad to cook a fun dinner for Mother's Day. But, he could have a bowl of whatever cereal he wanted.

Of course he yelled at me and threw a fit and decided on "no stupid cereal" at all. Happy to oblige, Sambo escorted him to his bedroom for the evening.

I sat on the couch feeling sorry for myself that I had such an ungrateful child... then I heard it.

Lots of loud and dramatic crying.

Even though I was upset, I needed to check on that boy.
So I went upstairs and there was Buddy, sitting on his bed just crying his eyes out.

We talked. A lot.
He understood that his choices had put him in the position he was in. He didn't get the food he wanted (or any food) by his own choices and he knew he only had himself to blame. But he wanted a "get out of jail card".

This part was hard for me. I wanted to let him off the hook really bad. But, the thing is, I didn't put him in this crummy position, he did. If I let it go, what did he learn? If you cry hard enough you don't have to suffer consequences when you make choices that are sad. That may not hold up in the world outside Towerland and while it would make him feel better for the night, it would not make him feel better 20 years from now.
I had to gently hold him to his own choices.

But I didn't have to leave him to cry alone. I asked him if he wanted me to sit with him. He said no at first, then he said yes. So we sat and cuddled. He cried and I told him why he was a great kid and why we loved him until he was able to stop crying. I asked him if he knew he was loved and important to our family and he nodded. Then we just sat for a bit until he told me he was ready to be on his own and asked me to go.
That was kind of hard too, but I did.

I learned a lesson from that.

None of us appreciate our Mothers, no our PARENTS enough.

They love us.

They take care of us.

They tolerate our abuse more than they should.

If they are wise (and have the stomach for it) they let us suffer consequences so we can learn from our choices (and yes, even good choices sometimes have bad consequences. Such is life).

But, while we are suffering, they are still there if we allow them.

They love us no matter what we do and they always see the best in us, even when we are too busy hurting to see it ourselves.

They will even go away if we ask them too, even if it hurts them more than it hurts us.

They love us enough to let go.

But they love us enough to come back if we ask. (We should ask more often for that by the way.)

 Even more than that I realize:

Parents are not perfect.

They are going to make really dumb parenting choices and then pray to whatever God(s) they believe in that they didn't just do permanent damage to us. Most of the time they will have their prayer granted. But
sometimes they have to deal with the consequences of their choices too.

We should be more understanding and forgiving of their mistakes because they forgave us when we made all sorts of crummy choices. Plus many of us had siblings so then it was 1 against however many kids... we can give our parents some serious wiggle room on their crash and burn parenting moments.

When I think of the crazy things I've done with my kids in the hopes of raising them to become responsible, beneficial members of this world I know my kids will either think of me as a wizard or a dunce. I'm praying I come out of it with my wand and pointy hat intact.

Parents won't always agree with what we (their children) are doing and even if we KNOW we are making the right choice, they still have a right to disagree and even tell us why they disagree. They have been a parent... they have been ALIVE longer than us and maybe, just maybe they have been down the road we are walking, or one very similar. We don't have to follow their advice verbatim, but we would be wise to listen to it and let that color our decisions just a bit. We would be wiser to recognize that they aren't trying to criticize us, but to help us when they speak up too. (That last bit is hard to remember, I admit that.)

Our parents are not perfect. They are going to have weaknesses because they are human (something we forget when we call them names and tell them we hate them. I swear we must think they are androids without an emotion chip the way we berate our parents sometimes). We owe it to our parents to not merely accept their weaknesses, but to love them because they are brave enough to let us see those weaknesses. It makes us better people when we see our kind loving, imperfect parents.

Imperfections, after all, are what make life interesting.

Now, this is the part where I could talk about my mother. How great she is, how much she has taught me. But, I'm not going to do that. First off, she doesn't read my blog so she won't know. Secondly, she is a private person and it would bug her and I don't really feel like bugging her more than I did growing up (still making up for my teen years you see). and Finally, I'm pretty sure she knows how I feel. And if she doesn't, I'll work on that some more.

I know Mother's Day was yesterday. Hug your mom today anyway. And tomorrow too. (And if she isn't the hugging type--- not all of us are into hugging--- just do something nice please.)


  1. You are super-inspiring me with all these Love and Logic examples! Last night my daughter emptied all of my conditioner out in the bathtub to make bubbles. I asked her how she was going to pay for it. When she didn't know, I said she could either use all her spending money or sell one of her toys. She gave up her spending money. Now, all week when she asks me for things I will get to remind her why she doesn't have enough money to buy them. Thanks for your example!

  2. I really hate the way your word verification is set up . . . because I always leave comments, but then close the window because I think they have been posted, only I didn't wait for a second pop-up window to appear so I could put in verification.

    There you have it.

    I love this post. I love your diligence in being consistent. And I love it that your blog is about very real parenting moments that happen to all of us. Your insights are so . . . insightful. :)