The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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A Mother’s “Hope”

on May 12, 2012

“When I grow up I am NOT having kids!” my oldest daughter declared to me one day. (She was about eight at the time.)  I stopped what I was doing and looked at her. “Really? Why not?”  “Because you are always tired!”  She was right. I was tired a lot of the time: it is tiring being the mom.  At that time our four kids ranged in age from twelve to one. I love each one of them for the unique person that they are. They are all different from one another in many ways. Despite that, they have one very important thing in common: they are a fulfillment of the “Mother’s Curse.”

“I hope that some day you have a child who acts just like you!”  If you’re a mother you may have not have spoken this out loud, but I know that you’ve thought it.  How do I know? Every mother does.  I can’t say for sure that my mom actually spoke it, but I know that she’s reaping from it.  I know because some days the things that drive me most crazy are the same things that drove HER crazy.

Our oldest son is a great kid. He’s got the same dry sense of humor that I have. He’s relentless when he makes up his mind to do something. He got that from me too.  (In fact, all my kids got that in varying degrees from me.) While that trait has served him well sometimes it can make him hard to deal with other times.  You see, he always has to have the last word. (I can almost hear my dad laughing right now.)  Arguing with him is like arguing with the wall: he isn’t going to back down. He always has a comeback. Over the years that “quality” has subsided in my life.  You aren’t going to change my mind, but I’m not going to argue about it with you.  I figure now that if I’m right people will figure it out eventually. It comes with age. It come with wisdom. It comes from being too tired to fight. Our son helped me learn that. I’ve learned to choose my battles carefully. I hope he lives long enough to learn that too.

Our oldest daughter is a delight and one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet. She’s passionate about the things that are important to her. She’s self motivated and driven. She is a perfectionist. (Guilty!) She will push herself until she is ready to drop trying to do everything “right.”  Nothing is ever good enough. SHE is never good enough. (Guilty again!)  This makes for a lot of tears and “pep talks” from her parents.  I hurt for her when she feels inadequate, just like my mother hurts for me. I still struggle with this some days, but it gets better the older I get. Over the years I have learned to cut myself some slack. I have discovered that doing the best you can and being satisfied with that is way better than being constantly frustrated with how much better you could have done.  Self evaluation is fine as long as it doesn’t make you self-critical. There is no such thing a “perfect”. I’ve finally come to a point in my life where I’m comfortable with who I am. I hope she arrives there much younger than I did.

I’m going to skip to our youngest child: our ten year old son.  He is a joy to be around.  He’s got the same sense of humor as his older brother and his mother.  He finds delight in everything he does. He too is relentless but never more so than when he wants THE PLAN.    He needs to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.  He likes his routine. He does things in a certain order and heaven help the person who gets in his way. He wants to know the schedule for a week from next Tuesday so he can be prepared. He doesn’t like to be surprised. He acts just like me.  The older I have gotten the more flexible I’ve become..  I still like a general plan, but I can go with the flow a little better than I used to.  Part of that comes from being married to “Mr. Spontaneous” for twenty-one years.  The other part comes from having four kids who constantly mess up my schedule.  I’m hoping that our youngest loosens up at a much younger age than I did. In case he doesn’t, I am already praying for his college roommate.

I saved the kid most like me for last: our youngest daughter, our third child. I’m also the third child, though I am the youngest.  This is the child who has challenged me. The one who pushes me. The one who makes me appreciate that my parents didn’t ship me away at a young age.  She’s a BIG personality in a little package. She’s our DRAMA QUEEN.  She’s the one who fights passionately and then stomps up the stairs when she can’t win. (Now my siblings are laughing.)  She’s the door slammer.  She’s the one who sobs loudly so that everyone knows she’s upset. Everything is a big deal to her.  I have often said the reason I don’t cry very often now is because I used all my tears by the age of eighteen. The upside of being a drama queen is that you are passionate and loyal.  I’m still passionate about people and things, I’ve just learned to use less energy to express it.  I’ve mellowed. I’ve learned to let things go.  The older this daughter gets the more I notice that she is mellowing too. She is learning to let a few things slide.  I hope she continues on that path. In the event she doesn’t, we are praying for patience for her future spouse.  He won’t know what hit him otherwise. (My husband sure didn’t!)

My response to my daughter that day many years ago was, “You might change your mind when you get older.  I love being a mom, it’s the best job in the world. You and your brothers and sister are most definitely worth being a little tired.”   Her little eyebrow shot up and she replied, “Hmmm. We’ll see!” and she left the room.  As I watched her leave I thought, “You’d BETTER have kids and I hope they act JUST LIKE YOU DO!”   That thought has kept me going through the frustrating days when my kids act like me. I’ve never said it out loud, but I think it often. It’s my hope for the future. It has certainly worked out well for MY mom!

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