I am suppose to write a blog piece for the Huffington Post about motherhood (for their special upcoming Mother’s Day issue in another week). And I have no idea what to write. I am a loss. There are no pearls of wisdom, no gems of gold from which others can glean sage advice. No nothing. I am drawing a blank. I think I have amnesia from all the late nights staying up writing funny stories about my day. I can only think in terms of conversational narrative.
Me: “Kids, get in the tub, in the shower, off the i-pod, off the X-box.”
Kids: “In a minute.
Quite actually. I need to read up on that very fine topic of motherhood and parenting for my own personal edification/inspiration/motivation. And believe you me. I just might do that. Right now. (#facebookjunkie #addictedtostatusupdates #hasnosociallife)
One of the kids mentioned tonight something about wishing for a little brother. You might be able to guess who. I can’t remember what exactly was said. But I know it was said in the context of wishing for a same sex sibling with which to share life and stuff. Someone with whom to shoot the breeze. Go down the road to the local fishing hole and do daring things like drink dirty creek water and stuff. Things you might do if you weren’t gender outnumbered and all at home.
When this idea came up, Husband and I both looked at each other and laughed. Hysterically. As we always do when someone suggests we have another child. Or adopt a puppy or buy a fish or something. And I think the comment was made by someone, I won’t say by whom, that we might as well “…put the chains around our neck and drag ourselves to the river” if this unexpected surprise were ever to transpire. As in. We’re done. Game over. The goose is cooked. And we both ate it.
And it’s not that we don’t dearly love the offspring we already have. Au contraire. The fact that I have not run off to the Pacific Islands disguised as a belly dancer already speaks to my undying love. And I do mean that with all my heart. Rather. It’s just that we two, Husband and I, know when the game is over and someone has already bought Boardwalk and Park Place. Leaving you both- the hapless other players, penniless and bankrupt (read: hope we can afford cereal for the weekend as we go through a box in one setting. Forget about date night.) Folks, let’s get real. We can’t afford any more little Gards around these parts anymore than we can afford weekly date nights to Summerside. The four darling Ones we have a putting us in the poor house, not to mention the insane asylum.
One of my children suggested tonight, “Let’s make a date night for Mom and Dad!!! We can plan a show for them! Whoop, Whoop!” This is the sad truth. Our children have come to believe that Mom and Dad going on a date means they are invited. And they can orchestrate the event. Which was cute about five years ago, but now is just plain SAD.
So, if I had any suggestions to make for myself- because I need parenting advice probably more than the next guy, here is how it would go down. They always tell you on the in-flight safety instructions to put your own gas mask on before you help the person next to you. And the same advice applies to parenting. Before you kill yourself being a parent, ask yourself this, “Have I brushed my own hair today?”
And add to this one last sentiment. It’s okay to tell it like it is. To be tough. To be play the meanie. Kids will suck you bare, right down to the marrow. They will take you for all you are worth, they will bleed you dry. They will ask and not re-pay. They will grumble and not make apologies. They will tell you that you are mean. They will tell you that you do not measure up. And they might even once in a while drop the h-a-t-e bomb. So what I am learning in all of this mayhem is this: it is okay to be real right back at ‘em. To tell it like it is. To call them out. To dish out a bit of their own medicine. To give it right back from whence it came.
For instance. I have always told my children exactly what I thought of their behavior- as it affects me or otherwise. I stand unashamed in admitting that my kids have heard from my own lips that on occasion they could be labelled mean, inconsiderate, bold, rude, irresponsible, unkind, uncaring and the like. It is okay to be tough. Kids might as well hear it from you than have a stranger say it in the grocery store or a restaurant. It is my job to hold my own children up to the standards I have set for them. ‘Cause if I don’t, someone else will.
And in closing, find something funny every day from which to see the funny side of life. If not for humor, I should die a miserable woman. Being a mother is not that fun. I am sorry. Playing house with my dolls back in the day did not prepare me for this. Those dolls did not talk back. They did not complain about the two articles of clothing they wore day-in and day-out. They ate air…literally. THEY ATE NOTHING. And they never.ever.complained. They sat in a closet for ten plus hours at a time. I never heard a peep out of them. And not once did they EVER ask for money. They were the worst example EVER of what having kids would be like.
So then. If not for the horrors of babysitting, I would have had absolutely NOTHING to base my parenting on. Because babysitting taught me nothing if it did not teach me this: children are often quite dreadful. But at the same time, they are unbelievably cute. It is one of their few redeeming graces. And above all, they are tremendously funny. And they say things ever y day that help me remember why I had kids. Because living in a house with another adult is not quite the same barrel of laughs that are a house full of quirky, creative kids. Who say the darndest things to me and about me each and every day. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They make me long for vacays in Florida. And in doing so, they help me remember why I had ‘em.
Thank goodness for that.