‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Extreme Parenting

Last night I went to the theater.

I saw "The Extremes, in Concert" - six 50-something women with very funny things to say through dance, spoken word, song, etc. Sort of performance-arty, which sometimes makes me nervous for the people on the stage. I was not nervous last night because I was too busy trying to keep my mascara from running.

One of the things they said was "My mother wanted well-behaved children, a blissful marriage, a lot of money and an immaculate home. She was miserable. I'll take messy."

I couldn't agree more. Because when this is all said and done I don't think I'll be saying, "golly, I wish my house had been cleaner." Of course, my house is not in the state where DSS might take my children away, otherwise I might actually be saying that.

I'll take messy because having a family is the hardest thing I've ever done. It took me a long time to get married. I just couldn't fathom how someone could share their space with another individual and be happy. And now I share a very small space with 4 people, with 2 more people in close proximity.

And I learned that you don't share a space with another person and be happy any more than you live on your own in your very tidy apartment and be happy. Sometimes you are, sometimes you aren't.

But I digress. I work from home and the one day a week that I go into the office I refer to as "my day off". Because this stuff is hard. So it is a ridiculously huge compliment when people tell me I make parenting look easy. I actually hear this a lot, which puzzles me. But I figure I should go for it, and start a parental advice column.

Here's what I'll do. People write me with questions and I'll call my sister with them. She'll tell me what to do and I'll write it and sign my name. Easy! This is what I did every day for the first year of Lucy's life, so she's used to the phone calls.

In retrospect, it's a little surprising that I called her at all. Historically she would be the one to critique (and possibly ridicule). Her favorite line was "I'm just being the devil's advocate here....." Boy was she. To be fair, we were equally critical of each other - I of her lifestyle and she of mine. We never shared clothes, friends or very many common interests.

And yet when I'd call her for advice about my child, she'd be completely supportive of what I was doing and give me some pointers for things I might try down the road. She was never anything but positive and helpful. And she had some great ideas. This is, after all, what she does - help people raise their kids. And with her advice, it has gotten a little easier to stay balanced and sane and have kids I want to be with.

So maybe when they are in their 50's my kids will say "mom wanted to have fun with her kids and her husband, a home where people liked to visit, and enough money to not freak out."

But kids never say things like that in real life. So maybe they'll say "she was on the phone with her sister All The Time." And that's okay, too.

1 comment:

Liz said...

you do make it look easy and are an inspiration to all. Of course I may be biased...