“It was you!”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“It was you. You emailed Doc to ask about our trip. He crawled all over us in band today, fussed at us because we hadn’t given our parents the information he sent home. He said a parent had emailed him asking him questions about things that he’d already told us to tell our parents. He told us we were old enough to be responsible enough to take home simple information. Doc doesn’t get mad often, but when he does, it’s bad. Now, he’s mad at us and it’s your fault.”
“I did ask a question. If I’d had the information–which I believe you should have given me–I wouldn’t have needed to email. And yes. It was me.”
“I knew it was you.”
Sound familiar? Ever been a member of the M.O.M. (Mean Old Moms) Club? Good for you!
Raising kids is not for the faint of heart. We have books on our bookshelf with titles like Parenting Is Not For Cowards, The Strong-Willed Child, and Parenting Today’s Adolescent. They all helped get us through parenting our three, but every child is different. And since no two are the same, most of the rules, like the Pirate’s Code, “are more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”*
I remember the first night we brought the oldest home from the hospital, sitting on the edge of our bed watching her sleep in her cradle. It was terrifying. I admit it. I held that mirror up to her face to see if she was breathing so many times.
We survived, though, through colic and croup and chicken-pox–yep, the vaccine wasn’t a thing yet–the 105 degree fevers, and strep throat. And then there was the time the youngest ate part of the azalea plant I was buying in the Walmart garden center when my back was turned. “Drive, but do not endanger your life, to the nearest emergency room.” The exact instructions the poison control hotline gave me (I all but had their number memorized. it’s a wonder they didn’t send us cards at Christmas. We were practically on a first name basis). I took her to the hospital and she slept peacefully on the exam table in the ER for two hours. The most expensive nap she ever took.
Not to be left out, the middle one liked to live life large too. He somersaulted through the nine months before birth and came into the world at full speed ahead. When the youngest was born, Middle One got a toddler bike helmet from my parents as a gift. He wore it constantly for two weeks, probably the only time in his whole toddler-hood that he didn’t have at least two bruises or cuts on his head and face.
He’s got a mini-me just like him now. Can you see me smiling? Laughing out loud? I remember when he was a teenager. One of his friends asked me, “Mrs. Beverly, doesn’t it bother you that he won’t ever admit that you’re right?” I said, “I know. He knows. And he knows that I know. I don’t have to say a thing.” Middle One just shook his head and rolled his eyes. He knew.
No, parenting is not for cowards and to be a good one you have to dig in and stick on the important things, but you to have to pick your battles. You can’t make everything an imperative. Your effectiveness is lost if you don’t relax a little and let them make mistakes for themselves sometimes and figure out things on their own once in a while.
It’s a big job, an important job. The job description includes small things like: 1) Do your best to raise them to be decent human beings, 2) Equip them to go out into the world and support themselves, 3) Attempt to do these things while getting them through childhood relatively unscathed. No sweat, huh?
With consistency, integrity, good boundaries, and lots of prayer, raising children is not only possible, it’s an incredible experience full of adventure. (Fun fact-Did you know that the definition of adventure is ‘an undertaking that involves risk or peril’?) Seriously, though, I don’t regret a moment of it and I have the gray hair to prove it.
“It was you!” “Yes. Yes it was me. I had the audacity to get to know your friends, your teachers, your interests, your talents, your personality, and your activities. I had the nerve to be seen at school, extra-curricular events, to chaperone trips, and drive the carpool (and even to listen to the conversations going on in the car in your unguarded moments in said carpool). I was a Mean Old Mom.”
Because I loved and still love you fiercely. And, I wanted you to grow up to be the Mean Old Dad that you are–who loves his kids enough to be part of their lives, their world, care about their friends, and yes-even email (or call) their teachers if you need more information.
Hang in there, Mom and Dad. You can do this!
*Pirate’s Code-Pirates of the Caribbean movie, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Distributed by Walt Disney Studios