It’s been really exhausting this last couple of months, I’ve been waking up around 1:30 am and if I do fall back asleep, it’s when the sun is just beginning to peak out over the day. There are the chores of having to attend to a constant stockpile of dirty dishes, the laundry, sweeping floors, wiping counters and picking up ceaselessly and in general, and the emotional and physical well-being of myself and everyone else. (Chase actually doesn’t let me take this sort of responsibility for him because he’s self-sufficient and responsible about healthy boundaries, but I try to make him eat more vegetables anyway.) Parenting is a full-time myriad of being a teacher, an officer, a behavior monitor, a strong role model, a fair ear, a watchful eye, a heart and mind and soul constantly asking and answering, how exactly do I do my best?!
Living with kids is a wonderful project. It would seem so much easier to just do everything for them. Here kid. Socks for day, all the socks, cleaned and paired and put directly on your feet each morning. But that’s a shortcut that leads to a place of dependency and difficulty when they’re faced with greater responsibilities later in life. And isn’t that half the point of all of this? Instead, I have to say, “Where do you think you should look first?”
When Tegan balked at having to clean her bathroom I told her that I could clean the entire bathroom in two minutes. The only reason I can is because when I was in 4th grade my mom showed me how to clean, and then I had many years of experience.
I treasure every single moment, because with kids you’re almost never working on the same thing for more than a few months or even weeks at a time; they learn quickly, they’re responsive, and they constantly grow. And kids aren’t around forever, it isn’t long before you seem them less and less and then sometimes almost never! At that point, they’re adults; what’s that relationship like?
Even when frustrated, I look for the silver linings, the laughter, the opportunity to appreciate the entire process of living life with these awesome people in which I’ve made a family. And no matter what happens or how I react, I don’t place blame on them. Every day is a gift, every domestic chore something I’ve practiced and prepared for. Every situation a chance to act with love, grace, and self-respect – or by satisfyingly shouting.
Today we made Chicken Tikka Masala and the smell reminded Tegan of that time we “demanded” that she dine with us at her first Indian Restaurant. It was in the middle of a four day road-trip and a lot of new things were happening each day. Partially because of this she was in a heightened state of feeling very annoyed, and she felt chilly, so she demanded that I go out to the car to get her a jacket.
“Get it yourself!” I said harshly, my temper catapulting when she acts from a place of entitlement. I followed her out of the restaurant to the car.
In addition to jackets and coats, there were also blankets piled into the back seat.
She grabbed a blanket with defiance and looked at me to see if she was going to get away with it.
“NO!” I hollered. You are not bringing a blanket into a restaurant!”
“It’s an INDIAN restaurant!” she retorted. “From INDIA. Where they wear blankets every day!”
“NOT TODAY!” I said seriously, impressed that I had kept myself from laughing.