“Come here sweetie pie, come here you little idiot,” she singsongs from the playroom.
I’m not sure where she got the idea that “idiot” is some kind of term of endearment. I know when I’m calling people idiot as they swerve into my lane without signaling when I drive down the highway, no doubt late to somewhere, I’m not using it in a nice way.
At least she didn’t call the dog an asshole.
Still, I hang my head over the cucumber I’m slicing, ignore whoever foot-steps into the kitchen as though nothing of great concern has happened, as though I didn’t hear the three-year-old at all. I even start humming.
“Mom!” says the rule-following fourth grader. “Lilah just called Sadie an idiot.”
“Have some cucumber,” I say.
“So she shouldn’t call the dog an idiot, but let’s not make a big deal out of it, okay?”
In my house, everything is a Big Deal, from who controls the remote to what’s for dinner to who gets to choose the movie. Who’s sleeping over at whose house is a big deal. Who eats the last cookie, that’s a big deal. And if you want to borrow something from someone, well, that’s the biggest deal of all. Hormones and temper tantrums up the ante on almost everything.
“Where’s my white t-shirt?!” yells the tween.
“I want my elephant lovey! NO, the other elephant lovey!” yells the three-year-old.
“Why does she get to wear lip gloss and I don’t?!” yells the almost 10-year-old.
I roll my eyes and sigh. I fight the urge to wander upstairs and hide in my bed. I’d rather clean the toilet than have to deal with my three kids these days. Gratitude eludes us all. Patience is a pipe dream. They say parenthood is full of teachable moments and yes, yes it is, but honestly, it’s just too exhausting to be the Oracle, the Dalai Lama and Einstein all the time.
What I really want to do is go all retro on them and throw out tiresome parenting platitudes like, “Life isn’t always fair” and “Because I said so.” But I don’t. I know those are only useless stopgaps that will soon give way and leave a big ole hole in my overall parenting strategy – if only I had a proper parenting strategy. My kids seem to have outgrown the bounds of what I’ve been practicing in the parenting department. I need to restructure, recalibrate and catch up. The thought of it all is totally overwhelming.
It’s not lost on me that my kids need me in more and new ways just as I’m finding my footing outside motherhood. This year, I finally dove deep into my writing and for me it was magic. Writing is something I want to do even more of next year in an even bigger and brighter way. At the same time, I want – and need – to figure out how to be the right kind of parent to my seesawing 12-year-old, my bubbling over 10-year-old and a sweet but demanding three-year-old.
Finding the sweet spot in both my parenting and my writing without being an idiot or an asshole is what I want to work towards in the new year. If I can figure out how to do both without sacrificing either, it definitely will be a very Big Deal.
This post is part of the Reverb 14 December daily writing challenge, a series of reflective writing prompts designed to help let go of 2014 and move into 2015 with intention. Today’s prompt is: How can you stop being an a**hole, get out of your own way and make room for more of your magic to happen in 2015?