Before having children I knew exactly what kind of mother I was going to be, and I very carefully honed the skills I would require. I imagined myself entrusted primarily with shy, sweet, sensitive daughters who needed gentle encouragement and patient engagement. These imaginary daughters were eager for my approval. My role would be to nurture their sensitive spirits and I was so ready to nurture them.
Yes, I can hear you laughing, dear reader. But it wasn’t totally far fetched – I myself was such a daughter (right Mom??).
Skills in hand I threw myself into parenting when A was born, just as I had planned. I remember my husband remarking on how patient I was. And I was! I drank in every moment and poured myself out and didn’t care if there was anything in it for me. I was so ready to love this little person unconditionally and offer him all the comfort I could bring to his experience of life.
As it turned out, I had not spent any time preparing myself to nurture these little boys, chuck full of initiative, energy, ideas, and destruction*. I had spent years readying myself to coax a timid soul into full blossom but had no skills whatsoever to meet little tornadoes who couldn’t hear (much less care) my instructions because they had landed on earth with both feet and were prepared to take it by storm.
Needless to say, very few of my carefully honed skills have been put to use. Even when a gentle hand is needed I’m generally too dizzy from the going-on-six-year roller coast ride to even notice. The reason I remember so clearly how patient I started out is that I am almost never patient now.
I know you’re still laughing, which is appropriate because the joke is certainly on me. I wouldn’t trade these crazy boys for anything but it feels like studying for 10 years for the MCAT and when you show up its the Bar Exam. I so badly wanted to ace this test and most days it feels like I’ll be lucky to even leave it intact.
I’m still getting my bearings here, six years down the road though we may be. And I’m realizing that though I have to yell to have my voice heard, even though even the tiniest instance of obedience requires me to stand my ground, my rambunctious children need nurture just as much as the imaginary children I thought I’d have – they just need it differently. Perhaps I’ve got it all wrong; maybe I was so advanced as a parent that the Powers That Be put me right through to the challenging sections. Yeah, I’ll keep telling myself that.
So that means that my challenge isn’t just to make my voice and opinion heard above the din of my children dismantling my house, but to continue practicing those nurturing, encouraging skills and find a way to bring them to bear on my actual children’s actual needs.
This morning I read to A. He listened and then said “I think the reason why I loved you so much when I was a baby is that you were the first person I met.” He looked pensive for a moment and then said “Hey, when I’m older, can you help me start a blog? I know!! That’s how we can stay in contact when I don’t live in your house anymore!”
That sounds great, Sweet Pea. I wouldn’t trade you and Little Bee for an army of compliant daughters.
*_Disclaimer: Any perceived generalization about behavior and gender is purely coincidental – I actually did imagine having such daughters, and I actually did have such sons…that’s all I’m saying! 🙂 _