If you want to see a radical shift in someone’s consciousness or value in themselves as a person, parent, writer, artist, doctor… human, threaten to change, alter, dilute, remove or diminish that identification. It’s at this point when you will learn how much they value what they’re doing.
I don’t know the origins of the lines in that sappy 70s song, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” but right now the sentiment runs true.
No catastrophe is looming, but a fairly significant shift in our family unit is about to occur in five hours. Not only will I travel for 16 days straight away from my team — something I’ve never done ever, EVER — to train to become a yoga teacher, but my team will experience changes too.
Most people do this training over a course of several months. Some take a couple years, but I’m a great summer school student: I love the quick hits of info and the intensity. I’ve always thrived in some sort of chaos, deadlines… and so this is like that to me.
Other than myself, our two older boys will go on a train ride to see some relatives all by themselves.
My husband and our youngest son, Thing 3, will have the castle and the dog to themselves for five days straight while the brothers are away.
So yes, this is a tremendous opportunity for growth for all five of us; I hadn’t thought about it that way until last night when I was packing for the retreat.
The older ones will ride on a train for 7 hours unescorted. They will be picked up by their aunt and spend some time with their closest (in peer and friendship) cousins. Their aunt will likely grow from this experience as well, in her relationship with my sons as their surrogate mom for a few days. I suspect Thing 2, who is quite demonstrative with me and his father will be needing a little cuddle from his auntie whether he likes it or not. Same goes for Thing 1, although he’s 15 and will be much more stalwart about it.
I tear up a little at the prospect of leaving them all. No Cap’n Crunch… here at least. No brie, unless they have it.
I found out that there is no coffee at the retreat, so I did this:
I also bought about 10 packets of BumbleBee Tuna in water and some Parmalat milk. So… no real growth for me, I guess.
The thing is, that for years I’ve not so much doubted my mothering, but I’ve doubted my value in my mothering. There’s something very very wrong with our society where (soapbox time) stay-at-home mothering is derided.
I don’t poop on the moms who work; I get it. Mothering toddlers can be MIND NUMBING. School-age is fun, but it’s a lot of repeating. Then preteens is nuts: they are insane people. They act like cats. And now teenagers: Fuhgedaboudit.
But I will staunchly defend those of us who
give up sacrifice pause, yes: PAUSE, on their careers or professional growth to raise children into sentient, honorable and contributing members of society.
Not everyone does that. Not everyone raises their kids to be good citizens. It’s unlikely their intent to raise cretins, but to be really honest with both of you: conscious, mindful, calmly assertive parenting is INSANELY HARD and I falter all the time. Some parents just give up.
Yesterday, Thing 2 (mini me) and I had it out. I’ve got this retreat on my mind, packing mentally, where will I hide the Slim Jims? all that… He wanted to go somewhere, I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I agreed. I wanted all of us to go. My sense is, “I’m out of here in 24 hours, let’s do something together…”
Then his brothers didn’t want to go, but T2 really wanted to go somewhere with me, he cried and moaned and snuffled about it, so I suggested the place that he really wanted to go to a couple days prior while I was away. He said, “No, it’s OK, let’s just go to the place we planned to with everyone.”
For those who stayed behind, I set my edict: “NO SCREENS. So that means: outside, guitar, soccer in the yard, read, mow the lawn… clean your room, do something, but no screens.”
This caused a row. In the meantime, I’m getting ready to go, my word is law… all that stuff.
“That’s my order — no screens. Come with us or no screens. You’re not sitting on your butts while we’re out.” There was consent, albeit grudgingly so.
So it’s hot out. I’m distracted, I don’t really want to do this. I have to buy gas, I have to buy Breathe Right strips because I’m sharing a room and sometimes I snore… but I’m going to do what I said I would do and T2’s manipulations can be off the charts, so I decided that this little outing with my tender son was better than being a little behind.
We get into the car and no more than five seconds later he says, after literally causing an atomic meltdown from his brothers about the No Screens law, “No, it’s OK. Let’s go to the place I wanted to go the other day…”
I pulled the car back in the driveway. Turned off the engine, opened the doors and said, “Get out. Go back in the house and stay there. I’ve got things to do and I won’t be manipulated by you any more. It doesn’t matter where we go, so long as we’re together, you say. Then you cry and toss a fit, then you get your way and the you CHANGE YOUR MIND?! Are you insane? Do you hear yourself? I don’t need this… you’re almost 13 years old…”
Apparently when he went back inside, and did lose his mind. Backpacks flew,
people Murphy (people) ran and hid, soccer balls went careening into bookcases.
I could hear it, but I went to buy gas. I needed a time out. He has a tendency to do these things from time to time; he’s a really smart kid, he’s just got to get a handle on his emotions at home. He doesn’t pull this stuff at school or at other peoples’ homes, so I know it’s something he saves for us…
I went to buy gas. He called me two times on my mobile. I came home as I intended, sort of: I forgot to buy the Breathe Right strips. I sat him down, interviewed all the boys in my room as I packed and warned them to not interrupt each other. I watch a lot of Law & Order around here, so I know how to handle an argumentative witness. They all spoke, Thing 2 couldn’t argue with the testimonies and I told him his sentence:
“Sentences. You have to write out this entire experience: from the moment we were ready to leave to my proposal of the place you wanted to go to a few days ago, just us alone, to your suggestion we stick with the plan to my rule for your brothers, to our walk to the car, to your changing your mind to your tantrum at the house. That’s it. I will not review it, your peers will.”
That sucked. It was work. I went to clean out my car while he was writing. What’s funny is there was some clever editorializing in his notes and excellent detail, so the kid’s got chops. But there were some missing facts, such as his freak out and backpack tossing and other stuff. So he had to revise it.
You know what he said when he was through?
“This was good mom. I really blew it. I can see now how crazy the whole thing was.”
That was a hole-in-one moment for me. I knew at that moment, I’d done the right thing by him.
So I see it now. I see my value in what I do here. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, and that’s the way these things work, I guess.
I’m about to lose my post: I will not be supreme ruler, guide, mother here for 16 days. And with that shift looming, it makes me cling even harder to my value and see in sharp relief, what value I do add to this tribe here. The contrast is stark, the lens is clear and the lighting is perfect: I add value.
We all do. All of us parents who sit on our hands, or bite our tongues, keep our tempers together, or remove privileges and stick to them. We all work so bloody hard.
Just the other day I had to count to five for my eldest, Thing 1, who is now 5’9″ and about 140lbs. He grew an inch in two months this spring. He was belligerent toward his father and myself. I told him to go to his room. He didn’t want to. He wanted to fight with us, get in our faces, give us grief.
I started: “FIVE …. FOUR …. ” up he goes a few steps. My hand is pointing all the way up and to the left, “Go on… GO. … THREE …” a couple more steps. He stops. I glare at him. “TWO.” He put his foot on his bedroom carpet and said, “I’m in my room.”
I glared harder. Squinted like Clint Eastwood. “iPod. Hand it over.”
He did. “I don’t care. Take it. That’s your only thing on me!”
“This is just the beginning. How do you like that Stratocaster? GO. IN. YOUR. ROOM. Do you want to move your body or do you want me to move it for you?” (And I would too…)
“You can’t. I’m too big now.”
“Watch me. Do IT. NOW …. ONE.”
And his door slammed. He picked up his guitar and started some Hendrix. We wanted him in there for only 10 minutes, but he stayed an hour. Jammed away. Zeppelin, the Beatles, some Who…
He emerged smug and sly, “I needed that, I guess.” He said.
“We all did.” I said.
So I leave soon. They will have no mommy here. It makes me want to stay. To say to the world, “They need me! I’ve been awesome to them!” But I need to grow too. I know that if I don’t do this, then I will regret it.
It’s time. They can all swim well now, they know how to use the microwave. I have friends who will check in on them all, their father will be working from home. We can do this. We can swing this. We got this.
I’m ready. RIGHT?!
I am. So moms, dads: do something like this for yourself when the time is right. When the kids are old enough to understand the consequences of their actions and when you are ready to give yourself back to the bigger world and let the bigger world give itself to you.
Namaste. Sat Nam. Amen.