“Yes, Jim. The Queen of Europe. It was one really giant oligarchy…”
I submit to you more proof, if you need it, that it is the children in my life who have caused me brain damage and the inability to function like a contributing member of society. (Actually, shoot… since I came first, maybe I’ve caused them brain damage.) This conversation took place between Lizzie and my son’s friend, Jim, as I drove Liz to an evening event at school. (Note: Jim’s name has been changed to protect the “innocent,” youth. But Jim, you know who you are. You are not blameless in this situation, even though you often empty the dishwasher for me.) Continue reading
One of the reasons parenting is so exhausting, in addition to all the usual running around, is that you’re giving your all (and then some) to teach your kids how to live. I was struck by this thought today: it’s all up to Paul and me. Yes, other people come into play: grandparents, friends, teachers, other people in the line at Starbucks. But for the most part, the shaping of their character — the teaching of right from wrong — is in our hands. With newborn babies, our main job is simply keeping them alive. But later on? You have to teach them how to be.
It seems we’re bombarded daily with inspirational quotes and mothering advice columns that encourage us to take time for ourselves by having a bubble bath or a massage. A bubble bath is nice on occasion, but I get bored in about 10 minutes, and personally, I find it comfier to read in bed with my seven pillows than in a slick tub. Also, bubbles make a scummy mess. And massages are great, but I need a LOT more than one hour to recharge. In fact, ever since the kids were born, I have felt guilty about how much time I seem to want (need?) for myself. Those encouraging articles always suggest taking time “every now and then.” But I want a chunk of time to myself DAILY. In fact, I want a regularly repeating bunch of consecutive hours to do what I want without guilt, without questions to answer or obligations to fulfill. And I finally realized why I need so much of this: it appears I have very few consecutive grown-up days in me before I feel myself reverting back to a kid again. I can’t help it. It’s just a fact. Continue reading
Lizzie is bopping around the kitchen, singing the phrase “own your own crazy,” a good message for me right now since I am currently feeding my rabbit applesauce from a soup spoon and I could feel embarrassed about it if I let myself. It is one of the cutest things I have ever seen, especially since the applesauce dribbled down her little rabbit chin and her little white chest (just like a baby) and now she is busily cleaning her fur with her adorable little rabbit paws. When I tried to show Liz how cute Beatrix was, Lizzie said, “That’s just great,” (without even looking!) and wandered off. So I think Liz has a double standard: she advocates for owning her own crazy but she’s not willing to celebrate my crazy. What kind of a daughter is that? Anyway, I’m thinking that middleage is a great time to start owning our crazy. We’re old enough to stop giving a f*** (mostly) about what other people think.
Learned an expensive lesson this week, people. Resolving to turn over a new leaf and actually cook, I went to the grocery store and shopped like a fiend for a week’s worth of meals.
Here’s my lesson up front: don’t plan meals for every night of the week, because as you know, hardly anything in a middleaged mom/wife/woman’s life goes exactly as planned (probably hardly anything in anyone’s life goes exactly as planned), and the food that doesn’t get cooked will sit around your kitchen being passive agressive. Let me explain.
Have you ever felt like a total imposter? I have, so very many times in my life. I start a new job, feeling totally under-qualified, and pretend I know what I’m doing and hope nobody finds out how inadequate I am. It was even worse when I first became a mother: terrified, I’d make up rules that seemed completely arbitrary, and then second-guess myself about whether it’s the right way to parent. I’m always confused about what I should crack down on and what I should allow, and the line seems to be constantly shifting. And when I think I have a handle on motherhood, the kids get to a new stage and all the rules change again.
Stephen King once wrote this great short story called “Word Processor of the Gods” about this writer who discovered that, when he typed a sentence about the picture that hung over his desk, and then deleted the sentence, the picture disappeared. The character thought long and hard — actually, no, he thought for about two minutes — and went on to delete his wife and kid, then gave himself the wife he should have had and the kid he should have had and the life he should have had, and you get the point. Anyway, how often in life have you wished with all your heart that you had a delete button for the things you’ve said and done?