Mom Notes

December 6, 2006

Can I let those of you who don’t have kids in on a little secret?

Many many times as a parent I simply don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Just broke up an argument with my twin boys over light sabers. Apparently Dan wanted to be General Grievous who boasts (who knew?) a whopping four light sabers, one of them blue. Well, Rob wanted the blue light saber. I hear arguing coming up from the playroom, quickly punctuated by a squeal, a scream and finally hysterical tears and “Ow, ow, ow! I’m telling!”

“Rob jumped on my back!” Dan screeches through his tears.

“Did not! You’re a liar! A big liar!” Rob yells back. Apparently there are fine distinctions between liars.

More of this continues as I try — at first fruitlessly — to silence both of them. I can tell that Dan is more angry than hurt and that Rob really believes that he didn’t jump on Dan, while Dan really believes he most certainly did.

This is one of those moments when I believe that settling Middle East peace might be easier. I mean, I didn’t know when I had kids that I was signing up for diplomatic services. (Even as I write this, they begin another argument, which I am studiously ignoring for the moment.)

So I sit them down in the family room, establish that Dan was being selfish, and that Rob’s inappropriate response was to push and pull at his brother’s light sabers until they both fell down, Rob on Dan’s back — hopefully alleviating the discrepancy in the reporting of this story. I have them each apologize to the other, but do they mean it from their hearts? Hard to determine, but Rob’s sullen demeanor makes me think maybe not so much. So later I should probably talk to him (again) about anger and self-control and forgiveness.

But the real question — am I doing this whole thing “right”? I recognize that there’s no one right way to parent. But I admit I didn’t expect the pit in my stomach feeling of “Oh no, what do I do now? How do I solve this dilemma?” Maybe I falsely assumed that once I became a mom I would know, simply know what to do and say on any given occasion. I may sound confident to the kids(hey, fake it till you make it, right?), but internally I’m often floundering. And talking to other parents, I know that’s a reality we all face. And I know that talking to other parents also provides the community we need to run ideas past one another, to see what’s working and wasn’t isn’t.

I joke about my kids’ therapy bills later as they work through all the crap we messed up. Maybe we should start a foundation for them!

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3 Responses to “Mom Notes”

  1. AndyWhitman said

    “Many many times as a parent I simply don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”

    Yep.

    Having more or less come out on the other side of this, with a couple imperfect near-adult kids raised by imperfect, frequently clueless parents, I have to say that kids are far more resilient than we often give them credit for. I’m more and more convinced that the best thing we can do as parents is simply show up. Just be present. So many kids in our culture don’t have the “luxury” of relating with parents who are involved in their lives. One or both parents are literally physically separated from their kids. Or one or both parents are emotionally distant and distracted. The fact that you and Tim are together in the same house, and intimately involved in Abby’s, Dan’s, and Rob’s lives means that they are tremendously blessed. I’m not kidding, although I’m sure there are many days when it doesn’t seem like a blessing, either to you as parents or to the kids.

    But it is. Without in any way intending to minimize the very real day-to-day traumas, I’m firmly convinced that all of our cluelessness and confusion eventually leads to some pretty together kids. And it’s mainly because we’re there, mucking it up as we go along, but mucking it up in the context of love and care.

  2. Now you’ve done it. There goes your ‘perfect parent’ reputation. Yours too, Whitman.

  3. mark said

    hey beth. Inoticed that the old blog was not being updated. I will read up soon. Jackson is very mobil and I love playing with him. He is always so happy. I hope all is well with you, Dan, and the kids.

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