First: I will love my children
Today was day two of my week-long effort to place our family’s emotional needs first. Again, it sounds so lame when I put it like that, so obvious, but it’s been far too easy for me to get side-tracked into all the “shoulds” of life.
Yesterday morning was mixed. First, I did well. I woke up to hear Buddy going to the bathroom. Usually all the kids share a room but last night he and Missy slept in the family room. Usually he comes in for a quick “hi mommy! I just went potty!” But no, horror of horrors, he opened the door to their bedroom where Sweetpea was still (blessedly) sleeping! “No No NO!!!!! That’s against the rules,” my inner self said. But outwardly I decided to wait and find out the full story before getting upset with him. A few minutes later, Buddy came into the room. “My pants got wet, but now they’re dry.” “Huh?” “They got wet.” “Oh… so you went into your room to go put clean ones on.” “Yes!” Mystery cleared up, breach of rules forgotten. After all, I’d rather he wake Sweetpea up than that he sit on the couch in his wet bum.
But then not an hour later, I pulled the cooled granola out of the oven to break into pieces and put away. Missy came down to get her breakfast and stared for a minute, picking a piece off the baking sheet and declaring it “just OK,” then asked if she could help. I responded in a grumpy voice that she’d first need to wash her hands. No response. I spilled some granola on the floor and said more kindly: “or if you want to sweep that? That’d be a big help.” No response. Another minute goes by while Missy continues to stare. “That looks like it’s difficult.” It flashed through my head that she just wanted to feel the granola crumbling under the spatula, she just wanted to pour it onto the container, wanted to smell and feel and see and hear it change shapes. I knew that, but failed to respond to that knowledge (was I just still annoyed that she hadn’t washed her hands? That she’d judged it as “just ok”?) and instead just said “no, not really. Why don’t you get your bowl and pour some cereal?” Connection did not happen.
The rest of yesterday and today were kind of like that: up and down. Missie has been extremely volatile for a while now (she’s got a lot to think about), which means she’s struggling with her normal responsibilities. That’s hard for me, because I like to know that I can count on people. Again, I know she’s only 8 and this is normal behavior, but that doesn’t make it less hard for me. The good news is that she and I had a lovely “date” together tonight. Instead of our now-standard ice-cream shop visit, we went to a favorite restaurant and shared a divine slice of cheesecake. Her choice. We chatted about summer plans, about things she’d like to do as a family, the upcoming visit of her birthdad (hopefully this one will happen…), and somehow got to talking about credit cards, mortgages, interest, and the concept of percentages. In the middle of that she suddenly stopped and said earnestly: “this is a fun date, thanks mommy!” In those moments it’s easy to parent.