I constantly obsess over what my kids will remember and what they think of me when they enter adulthood, and not like 18 year old officially an adult-adult, like when they are a 35 year old adult and re-examining their life to solve some internal question OR even worse when they are parenting themselves and comparing what they are doing to how I handled situations. Are they going to be saying, “I hope I am the parent my mom was!” or are they making a mental checklist of “I’m never doing THAT to my kid!”
These thoughts started when the kids were younger knowing they wouldn’t remember any of our days together and it was 50% comforting and 50% scary. Those early baby days filled with snuggles and just gazing at them with wonder, and the ominous fear of my own demise and whatever new woman my husband would marry would be their mother. They wouldn’t know me or remember me. But then the not so stellar parenting moments would happen; I would drop something and say, “shit!” and then look wide eyed at my baby and say, “mommy didn’t say that!” I think shit was in my son’s first 10 words he learned. I would be worse than Vince Vaughn in the movie Old School, at least he would say ear muffs! If I didn’t get a birthday just right, or have my own meltdown from lack of sleep and end up crying on the floor with the baby it would bring me comfort knowing, well at least you won’t remember this shit show!
Now my kids are 15 and 13 and they will remember ALL OF IT. Where is the Men In Black memory eraser when you need it?
I was driving in the car with my 13 year old daughter and we were talking about the upcoming week. I had to go to Las Vegas for work, and I was telling her who would be taking her to dance and who would be picking her up because it takes a village when you have two working parents. She told me she wanted to come with me, and I said, “sorry Love Bug, not this time”! But, feeling proud to show my daughter that I am overseeing a work event while making sure things at home are running smoothly and basically just doing it all, I asked her what career she is interested in. She gave a noncommittal response and I said, “Well if you want to travel, you could look at a job that takes you to different places.” To which she replied, “I do not want a job that would take me away from my daughter, ever. I will be home with her every day.”
Talk about cutting me to the core. It actually gutted me. It was maybe the meanest thing someone has unintentionally said to me, well let’s hope unintentionally I would hate to think of my daughter as being a master manipulator at this young of an age.
Is she going to look back at this time with kinder eyes when she is an adult or look back and say, “I don’t think my mom had the right priorities.”?
AND I am not trying to make this a working mom dichotomy (lets take a moment and be proud of my intellectual word choice I may or may not have had to google first to make sure I was using it correctly), this is a parent paradigm. (I’m on a roll, someone call Harvard and get me published!) We are with our little sponges during the most formative years of their lives and we can only control so much, we have no power over what they keep inside and what they throw out mentally.
When I look back on my own childhood, some of the most visceral memories are the crazy ones! When I received my concussions (yes multiple and yes I know that explains a lot) when my brother was fighting cancer, and when my siblings and I got in trouble. I also know that those things were in the “less than 20%” category of what was actually going on! We had a house filled with love, so why was the norm and the consistent days of love and fun the memories that were so easily forgotten?
I just have to know in my heart I am doing my absolute best, and my kids better realize it! Also, tonight will be family game night with pizza and laughs and while I can’t have absolute power over what they decide to paint their memories with from the time we had together, I can do my damndest to have as many fun times as possible.
And if I can leave us with a final thought, it is to say having teenagers is having beings that make you question all of your life choices. Terrible twos are just not a thing in my opinion, they are small and cute and don’t have the capacity to play mind games with you. If we need to stick to alliteration, which I happen to love, can we just normalize TOXIC TEENS in our conversations with fellow parents? We need solidarity!
2 thoughts on “Looking Back…”
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