A couple of nights ago, New Year’s Eve to be exact, my family and I went around the table and said one thing we resolved to do in the New Year. When it was my turn, I said I was going to seriously give this writing thing a go, and as such I told them that I had just started a blog. My son said, “Blogs are stupid.” (Thanks, Mr. Cheerful.) My husband said, “Good for you. If nothing else, the practice (of writing) will be good.” (Got it, Mr. Practical.) And my daughter said, “Um, will you be posting things about us?” (You betcha, Miss Knows Me Too Well.) “Yep.” I replied honestly. So, in keeping my word, here is my first, but surely not my last, post about my dear daughter.
Every now and then I will walk by our downstairs playroom (the kids are teenagers now, but I still refer to it as the playroom…sigh) and I will spy my daughter laying on the couch, remote control resting on her belly, a plate of food in her hand, and a general mess in her wake, and I think, ‘Dear God, what have I done?’ Only, the thing is, I know exactly what I have done. In trying to be the exact opposite of the mother I had, the kind who was too often too sick to do much of anything, I have become the mother that, quite frankly, does too much.
I’m not talking about the kind of mother who tries to be her child’s best friend by buying her the next best “it” gadget, or spoiling her with endless material things. (My husband and I are firm believers in delayed gratification and my kids know full well that they, and indeed we, will never be the first family on the block to have the latest, greatest, well, anything.) I’m talking more about doing too much for her: her laundry, her dishes, cleaning up her room, etc.
You see, when I was a kid, it seems as if I had to do everything both for myself and by myself. Now, I know that this can not possibly be true, but a great deal of my memories involve me doing whatever it is that a “normal” mom would do for her daughter. One example comes quickly to mind.
I was probably 10 years old and I had a pair of pants that were too long. I have no recollection of buying the pants or where they came from, but alas they were too long and I wanted to wear them the next day. Well, there was no way I could ask my mom to hem them because she was, well, doing what I remember her doing a lot of back then…sleeping. So I decided to hem them myself. Mind you, this was before my spectacular Jr. High Home Economics Class, and I really had no experience, and even less of a clue, about how to sew. But I wanted them hemmed and I wanted them hemmed now (so much for delayed gratification). How, or why, I even thought I could hem them is beyond me, except that I probably thought, “Hey, just pin them up and sew. It can’t be that hard.”
Turns out, like most everything else that “can’t be that hard” it was indeed hard. No so much hard in the actual hemming of the pants, more like in the actual way they turned out. One pant leg was a complete and total “flood waiting to happen” while the other pant leg was, you guessed it, dragging the ground. For some reason that I can no longer recall, I just had to wear those pants the next day. I do recall though that they were green and had some type of cool darker green embellishment on the back pockets; I’m sure they were totally cool at the time. (Funny, too, that I still have a clear picture of them in my head.) Anyway, I wore them the next day and I didn’t even care that they were uneven! (I wonder if that day I became “the crazy girl with the uneven pants?” Don’t know, don’t care…I had my green pants on and I was happy.)
Memories like these make me question if, in trying to be the exact opposite of my mom, I am actually doing my daughter a disservice. You see, since I knew my mom wouldn’t and/or couldn’t hem the famous green pants for me, I simply did it myself. I didn’t rely on anyone to help me or even to show me how (of course, that ended up being not such a great thing after all). Sometimes I wonder if, in my eagerness to do for my daughter, I am really taking away this type of “I can do it myself” spirit.
Then I recall the time this past summer when we made curtains together. I got her started and then she totally ran with it and ended up doing most of the project herself. Or I remember all the lunches (and indeed dinners) she has made, sometimes with help from her father and me, sometimes on her own. Or the times she has taken her own money and bought her friends’ gifts that she picked out all on her own after much thought about who would like what. There are countless examples of times that I have gotten her started on something (like the curtains), but in the end she has made the project or event all her own. And in the end, isn’t that was mothering is all about? Helping our kids and guiding them with something and then watching them soar with it and making it their own? So while I still cringe and think, ‘Dear God What Have I Done’ when I see the remote on the belly, I know that my girl’s going to be just fine. In fact, she’ll be better than fine, because, unlike her mom, she won’t be afraid to ask for help.