Sunday, May 6, 2012

You Know What Sucks?

It's one of those phrases often spoken in our house. Actually, it's often projected, spat or yelled in disgust, frustration, and annoyance. "You know what sucks?" And because we are a brood of smart alecs, someone always answers, "Yeah, a vampire." "A vacuum?" "Your face?!" (Aren't we lovely?) I've recently, however, discovered a  better answer, a real answer. It's answer I will probably never admit to my kids because it's a little too real.

What sucks is when you realize that your philosophy for daily living is completely flawed.

For decades now, my philosophy has been to never be the reason another person feels bad. I've lectured this message to my kids many times. It's been a couple of years now that I've understood the flaw in that belief. It's too much responsibility. It has only been recently that I've truly understood the consequences of parenting through this philosophy. Athough I DON'T want to be the reason someone else feels bad, I can't take on the responsibility of never ever doing anything that will result in disappointment for someone else. I also can't take away any and all possibility of hardship or stress for my kids so that they never have to experience it. That's what we want to do, isn't it? We want to make it all okay, so they never experience heartbreak, failure, loss, When we do that, however, we set up ourselves and our children for a whole lot of what sucks--namely, real life consequences.

I distinctly remember my senior year when I had once again taken on way more than I could handle. I was in charge of a whole lot of Homecoming stuff that HAD to be completed by Friday before kickoff. I remember literally shaking and crying my way through the school day because I knew it would never all get done. I rushed home after school to find that my mom had been very busy that day. She had taken care of everything. I cried with relief and was able to enjoy my Homecoming! That is such a strong memory for me. My mom put out my fire without my even having to ask. She just knew. She created relief, joy, contentment for me. For two decades I'm been trying to recreate that feeling from the other side of the parent/child relationship. That moment of relief was so strong that I completely forgot about all the other life lessons my Mom taught me.

I forgot about the "grounded one day for every minute you're late" lesson. I forgot about the" anything that needs to be said can be said in a 15 minute phone conversation" lesson. And the related "it can also be said on the family phone in front of the parents" lesson. I forgot about the "if you didn't have time to do homework, I guess you have too much social life" lesson. I forgot about the "any boy who wants to spend time with you must want to spend time with the family too" lesson. I forgot about th e"later you get home Saturday, the earlier Church starts on Sunday" lesson. I certainly forgot about the" only clothes that make it the laundry room get washed" lesson as well as the "I cooked the meal, you do the dishes" lesson. I even forgot about the" you want the pet, feed the pet" lesson.

So you know what really sucks? When you realize that all the things you said you'd never do when you had kids of your own, you really should have done all along. I guess the consolation is that since it took 40 years for me to realize that my mom actually did know what she was doing, maybe it will take that long for my kids to realize that I don't! I think I've got them fooled, for the most part.

Or  maybe I'm wrong about that, too. If so, that would really suck!

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