I hung up the phone with TJ this morning, a bit teary and immersed in self-doubt. I had voiced my frustration to him about Max having missed school basketball tryouts last week and Ted walking up to school today late and upset because his homework was incomplete. I said something to the effect of “I feel like every time I glance away from our kids for a split-second everything falls apart.”
Exaggeration? Yes. Ted will be fine with his natural consequences. Max will be fine with his too. But, right now I don’t feel fine with mine. I feel like I dropped the ball by not paying better attention to the middle school newsletter and not double-checking with the homework situation after I’d spent half of Sunday at the yoga studio. Seeing the kids upset is bad enough, feeling partially responsible makes it worse. Worse yet are my feelings of not wanting to be so damn responsible. I’d wanted so badly to keep a little bit of the space I recently recovered in Spain, but I seem to be handing it over left and right to the men in my life, and not even doing it with grace. Where are my boundaries? I was feeling resentful too. Wah, wah, wah.
I sat down at the kitchen counter, feeling defeated and not in the mood to tidy up the breakfast dishes nor gather the morning paper all strewn about, not in the mood to write or yoga or organize one of the closets I’d promised myself I’d get to once I quit my job last May. Feeling sorry for myself and a bit guilty for feeling sorry for myself, I glanced down and saw John Rosemond’s morning column. I don’t normally read the paper, I mostly just recycle it, but the title ‘Parenting’ differs from just raising kids caught my eye. TJ had just used the word parenting in a pick-me-up text he’d sent me a moment before. So, catching the universe’s message, I read.
This is the paragraph that jumped out at me:
Mothering- the female form of parenting- is very hard work. Mind you, raising adults is not hard work, but mothering? That’s a horse of a different color. The mothering mom is in constant child-oriented motion because to slow down is to risk the possibility that one of the plates she is spinning will begin to wobble and come crashing down, and that simply will not do. (SOUNDS FAMILIAR!) Mothering is all about work. Mothers who mother even work at demonstrating love to their kids. Everything about mothering requires great mental concentration and physical energy.
No wonder I’m tired. And frustrated.
But, what is the universe via John Rosemond trying to tell me? Not to try so hard? Is that the conservative, old school way to say, “trust”, which is what my yoga teacher kept saying in class later? (Thanks again universe) She reiterated time and time again:
Let go of the story (I am an absentminded and not-involved enough mother who is distracting herself from her parental duties with her quest to figure out her own life) and
Trust the process (We are ALL right where we need to be)
Thank you, universe via yoga. I’m listening.
Rosemond went on to say, “parenting is all about psychology. Raising adults, by contrast, is nothing more than common sense, comprising equal parts unconditional love and unequivocal leadership”.
Hmmm. Unconditional love, I get, but I am not quite down with the term “common sense” (what is common-sensical about knowing how to raise kids? I understood it a bit better with babies, but this whole social-cultural aspect of childrearing is baffling), nor am I jiving with “unequivocal”(it occupies the same part of my brain as tyrannical), but maybe Webster can help me out.
Common sense, noun:
- Sound, practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence
Aha! I think he means following my gut! I’m working on that. Got it universe. Note to self to refocus on this intention.
- not equivocal: unambiguous; clear; having only one possible meaning or interpretation
- absolute; unqualified; not subject to conditions or exceptions
Hmm. I’m not sure that according to John Rosemand’s parameters I qualify as unequivocal. Nor am I sure that I want to be. Of course, I want to be firm and I want my kids to always know –without interpretation or ambiguity–who is boss (not them). But I also want them to feel heard and valued.
One of JR’s final notes is that kids are drama factories. I like this. I can see this in my home. It is a good reminder to let their drama be theirs, and to be firm in my boundaries. That is where I lost myself for a bit this morning, taking responsibility away from them and giving them my emotional space. I am trading back now.
Thanks JR, LM and my potential readers for helping me sort myself out, just in time for fall break (and the next lesson).