Monday, November 10, 2008

Grace

I read this post last week, and as much as I hate to admit it, I could totally relate. There are days when I am the greatest mother on the planet, and days when I am lucky to get through the day without taking a swig or a swing at anyone.

But you know what helps? Knowing that I'm not alone. Knowing that there are at least 24 other people in the world who read that post and identified with it enough to leave a comment for her.

Know what else helps? Talking with the mothers of my daughter's dance classmates, trading horror stories about what each has been up to (or NOT up to), a one-upsmanship contest you don't really want to win. The ones with slightly older kids give me a preview of the joy and hell that's yet to come, and the ones with slightly younger kids reassure me that every kid in the world becomes evil at approximately the same ages. This is really the first time I've had the chance to do this - after three and a half years I finally have a kid who happily trots through the door to a class and lets me sit outside and knit for 55 minutes straight while yapping with other moms. Let's hear it for commiseration!

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Last night my Simple Abundance meditation was about "grace." There's a lot tied up in that word, but the way I understood it for me was the ability to make it through the day with the fewest unhappy moments. Not always getting everything I want when I want, and being okay with that. Not exactly compromising, just being willing to be flexible.

On my good days, that's exactly the kind of parent I am. Kid doesn't want to get dressed? Not a problem, stay in your pajamas for an extra five minutes, then race me upstairs and we'll see who can get dressed fastest. Work on the computer only when she's asleep or at school, pay attention when she asks for it as many times as she asks for it, set aside the housework or the bills or the Lazy Mama stuff until she's entertaining herself. Accept every twist and turn of the day with grace and graciousness. Bend over backwards to work around the NO! and the whines and whatever other ugly habits she has this week. Get everyone to go on a hike to look at fall leaves and experience not one minute of whining from anyone of any age.



On the bad days, well, it would really be best if I had a babysitter. Yell at the kid when she won't get dressed (or eat, or brush her teeth, or let me comb her hair, or put on her shoes). Forget cajoling - the groceries aren't going to buy themselves and I am sick of asking her over and over to get out to the car. No, I will not wipe her bottom one more time, she's almost four and can do it perfectly well herself. The cat hair has reached crisis levels, the credit card company is going to get grumpy with us if I don't pay bills soon, and by god I have packages that have to get in the mail TODAY, so by god she'd better just sit there and watch another Sesame Street while I get some stuff done. Fume and complain and moan when things don't go as planned. Develop stress headache and barricade self in sewing room after dinner, hoping funk will be solved by application of fabric sizing fumes from my stash. By her bedtime she's lost all privileges, so no books or computer or songs before bed, thanks to her lack of cooperation and my unwillingness to jolly her along throughout the day.

Luckily, I'm not at the bad end of the spectrum more than one or two days a month, and I've learned how to recognize the symptoms and head off the worst of it before ill-advised things leave my mouth. And Liza has learned that I'm very serious when I tell her that the day is going to go very badly for her if she doesn't start doing what I tell her to do.

Starting today, I'm making a conscious effort to live my life with more grace. I want to be the fun, flexible mom, not the shrill harpy who yells to have everything her way. I have written "GRACE" on my wrist, in the place I've used for a reminder board since I was in elementary school and needed to remember to bring in homework or gym shorts or whatever. Hopefully, seeing it there will help bring me back to the center when I start to get all crabby.

We'll see.





In the meantime, this is what my floating place looks like - peaceful and serene and beautiful and empty.

And there's an old friend there, too.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

It seems as though you burden yourself too much. Put her in pre school and have time to yourself. You do not have to feel guilty about it. You are a wonderful mom. She will flourish with the separation and you can do the creative things you do which are really terrific. You are a great writer and interesting and funny--great photographer, too.

mlf said...

Amen

Anonymous said...

I agree - just look at the photo, where she walks away from you: purposeful, secure. That is what we raise our kids to be and you are doing a terrific job!K's mom