I was asked last weekend by a blogger friend how my upbringing influences the way I parent my children. I thought it was a great question that would make for a great blog posting. Especially since it was so close to Mother's Day. I thought about it and thought about it, but everything that came to mind was sounding so cliche and very "Hallmark Card"-ish. I wanted my blog to be genuine and honest. As usual.
The last couple of days in our house have been a bit rough. My 18-month old son, Bean (his nickname) has had a pretty nasty cold. He's been waking up during the night with a hacking cough and just not feeling good in general. Since he shares a room with Abby, she hasn't been sleeping very soundly either and this has not made for a very happy camper in the waking hours. Really it's been an unhappy camping party as no one in the house has been sleeping very well.
Last night I reached a breaking point. I've been so busy with school and life in general that I've fallen behind in one of my classes. I'm a good student and this is just plain unacceptable for me. I was in the midst of trying to download software that was crucial to getting caught up in this class and that would allow me to spend more time at home. The kids were entertained and doing fine, but then I had to get into the closet where the dreaded vacuum cleaner is stored. Dun-dun-duuuunnnnn!!!
hates the vacuum. I'll admit we put off using it because of this, but when we finally do break-down and vacuum the floors, Abby usually hides in her bedroom, in her bed with her Blankie-Snuggle and her music turned way up. Even with all of her comfort scenarios in place, she usually screams and cries (loudly) until the vacuum is put away. Not just turned off. "Put away!" The cord has to be tightly wound, the vacuum in it's place in the closet and the closet door tightly shut. Even after she has made sure this has all taken place, she still mutters softly to herself over and over again, "All done. All done. All done. All done. All done."
So back to my story. I had to get into the dreaded closet. (Dun-dun-duuuuunnnnn!) And despite my many assurances that I was not vacuuming, Abby was screaming and screaming and screaming! I should have just said some soothing words and let it go, but for whatever reason, I was so annoyed that she wasn't listening to me, that I let it get the best of me.
It was not one of my most proud parenting moments.
So what does this have to do with Mother's day and my dear Mother? Sometimes my mom lost it, too. Minus the swearing part, I reminded myself of my mom last night. She was a single mom. She worked 40+ hours per week and struggled to make ends meet. We were typical kids.
She'd get home from work around 4:30 and walk in to a messy house that had been clean when she left it.
We didn't have our homework done and we'd spent the afternoon filling up on cereal and cookies, instead of saving our appetites for the healthy meal she planned to prepare.
Then we'd complain about the dinner she did make and hound her at every turn,
"Mom... mom... mom!"
I remember standing in the doorway of the bathroom once as she yelled at me,
"Can't I even go to the BATHROOM without an audience?!!!"
And every couple of months, she'd reach her breaking point and we'd all have to endure a fun-filled evening of yelling and inevitably, crying.
I don't look back on these memories with anything other than understanding and compassion. My mom was a great mom! She worked hard and when we repaid her hard work with typical childish thoughtlessness, she let us know how ungrateful we were in the only way she knew how. I'm sure she would have judged herself harshly for letting those moments get the best of her, but I learned a very important lesson during those times.
That she wasn't perfect.
That she had feelings.
That being a grown-up was hard and to be thankful that I was still a kid.
I learned that I needed to help my mom out around the house,
because she was doing the job of two parents.
But it would be years before I truly understood just how hard her life was during those years. And because I'm blessed to have an understanding and helpful husband, I don't think I'll ever truly grasp the challenges that she faced.
Usually at the end of one of "those" nights we'd all end up hugging and apologizing for our bad behavior. My mother included. She'd apologize for losing her cool. We'd apologize for being ungrateful kids. And we'd all end up loving each other just a little bit more.
I hope that someday when Abby is an adult, that she'll look back on times like last night and recognize that I was human. That I made mistakes, but that I loved her the best way I knew how. And when I didn't do my best, that I turned around and tried to do better. I hope she loves and respects me as much as I love and respect my mom. She wasn't perfect, but she always tried to improve herself and in the long run I think she did a pretty darn good job.