Yesterday morning I woke up to the writing on the wall. Literally. I walked into the bathroom, and in the bleary-eyed fog of early morning, I noticed the number 17 on the wall by the toilet. Hmm. Odd. Frustrating, but oh well. Then as I washed my hands, I saw the numbers 6,7,8 on the counter top by the sink. I began to heat up a bit and wonder if there were more to be found. Sure enough. Dryer, doorway, light switch, wall. One of my mathematicians began at 1 and worked his way to 17. All. Over. The. Bathroom. Within two minutes I was over-heating. A small number 17 infraction had now turned into a math worksheet and a tumbling of thoughts and feelings on the matter. Gratefully, neither of the two possible vandalisers were up yet and I had time to work through my thoughts and action plan. I was fairly calm when I delivered the lecture and the consequence, but in my head that infraction touched on some pressure points regarding my parenting.
I am a fairly black-and-white person who tends to see things in categories of right and wrong. There are instances in my life where that has served me well, but relationships is not generally one of them. And since becoming a mother, that point of view has led me to the brink on more than one occasion.
The reality is, with kids, the ‘rule-book’ gets stomped on, trampled on and dragged through the mud until the pages are indecipherable. And for someone like me, who is not only black-and-white but also stubborn, I find I keep trying to pick it up, clean it off and keep going. And to some extent I think that is reasonable. Except for when the pressure of ‘living by the book’ becomes unbearable.
Part of being a stay-at-home mom means that my ‘job’ is always in front of me. I don’t get in the car or on the train at the end of the day and leave it behind. So sometimes I get caught up in the swirl of over-thinking, over-planning, over-teaching, over-managing and over-everything until it’s over-whelming. I can feel myself taking on everyone’s perceived expectations and my own expectations until I am no longer able to shut them out. And without the ability to walk away from my job for the evening or the weekend, I’ve got to find a way to sort through it all in the midst of it all.
This is where you find me today. I am s.l.o.w.l.y. coming to terms with the fact that my boys are not like me. That should be obvious for many reasons. I’m 36 and female. They are currently 10 months, 4, 7, 9 and very male. I like order and my spaces to be tidy and pretty. They like as much noise, chaos and mess as is possible to create. I like to be presentable when I go out. They think holes in socks, undies, pants, shoes and anything is a fashion statement worth making. I care about what goes into my body, most of the time. They could eat pizza, hot dogs and pancakes every blessed day of their lives. I like time to myself. They see that as a personal invitiaion to come closer. My point is, we are so different in our view of things. And obviously, as the parent, it is my responsibility to teach and train and instruct them. But the reality is they may never be like me. And rather than seeing that and realising it is a good thing, I have been overcompensating for what I perceive as their shortfall, which only leads to a tired and weary mamma.
So, the questions swirling today are: how do I hold fast to truths and principles and character values that I want to instill in my boys without losing my mind or causing them to lose theirs? How do I break free from seeing only black-and-white and move into the glorious colours that they bring? How do I let go of Drill Sargent mom and become a more enjoyable mom without the fear that the house will fall down around us?
What has been unconvered in the writing on the wall is that the problem lies more with me than with them. I need to let go more. My frantically trying to do everything right is not going to bring about the life I desire for me or for them. So today I am hoping to let more colour in. I have decided to attempt ‘rainbow parenting’. So please extend gracious thoughts when you see me or our home looking a bit frayed around the edges. Or when my boys rock up with holey socks and messy hair. See it as colour. Hopefully it will represent a little more life and joy.