Friday, July 5, 2013

To Secure Peace

A few years ago, I complained on Facebook that parenting was hard. A good friend of mine who has been known to be rather harsh in her assessment of things, wrote back, "What made you think it would be anything else?" This friend, I'll call her Rorey, has two Stepford children, a Stepford husband, and has never been caught raising her voice or having a dirty house. It's enough to drive you bonkers, it really is. However, she is my trusted advisor in terms of parenting because she really, truly believes that a good mother doesn't choose her battles, she wins them all.

I thought about her today when, seven hours after I told the kids to do something, it still wasn't done, so we still hadn't left for the pool. Seven hours! I didn't ask them to perform surgery, to learn to speak fluent Russian, or to organize all the Lego pieces by size, shape, and color. Nope, I asked them to put their toys and their laundry away. One basket of laundry each and about a dozen toys.

Now, I'll be honest. I spent 14 hours in the sun yesterday before I fell into bed a hot, sweaty, stinky, exhausted mess of a human being. I was damp and sweaty pretty much from sunup to sundown, so I'm perfectly happy staying indoors wearing dry bottoms. With a full heat advisory in effect, and temps that feel like 100+ and counting, I am medically restricted from being out-of-doors for long periods of time anyway. Orthostatic intolerance and extreme heat are a potentially catastrophic cocktail and require me to be very, very careful of their balance. So do I mind missing a day at the pool, even after two weeks of rain, knowing that summer is still early, the weekend hasn't even hit yet, and I will have lots of time to bake, broil, and fry? Nope.

But that isn't the point. The point is that even if I did mind, I would have been trapped indoors by my children anyway. I gave them two tasks, they had to complete them before we left the house, therefore, we were not leaving the house before those tasks were done. Sure, I could pick up the toys in ten minutes, have put all the clothes away in another twenty (and they would be far neater in their drawers than they are now), but that would have defeated the whole point of asking them to do it. She's eight, he's almost six - both are perfectly able to perform those tasks. In fact, I've seen him practically sing as he rushed to put way four times the amount of crap at preschool, and Lord knows she has a reputation at school for knowing when everything has to be said, done, and put, so she totally had this under control.

So yes, parenting is hard. It is hard to watch the disappointment and hurt in my daughter's eyes when she realizes she was wasn't invited to birthday party and everyone else was. It is hard to say no, you can't get more library books until you pay the current fines, knowing how much she loves to read and how hard she works for those dollars. It is hard to watch my son struggle with all those little steps that make him a "big boy" like taking off the training wheels, learning to read, learning to swim. There have been days I wanted to just throw my hands and say screw it, but I can't. Instead I have to muddle through this dream/nightmare of parenting the best I can so that they don't grow up to write the modern equivalent of Mommy Dearest.  

I don't necessarily think I can win all of the battles. There are just too many, coming from too many directions, on too many different levels. Tempers may fray, tears may be shed, but the I will continue to fight the good fight. For while I may occasionally lose a battle, I will not lose this war. I will raise good kids who do what they are told, are good friends and good neighbors, and who are smart and well-spoken so that one day, they will be able to fight their own battles.

Until that time - eight hours and counting.

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