One of the side effects of divorce complicated by infidelity, along with a metallic taste in your mouth and the shivers, is Perfect Parenting Syndrome. (Yes, I am calling it PP’s) I don’t want to screw anything up because I am continuously judged on my performance as a parent.
Funny, I used to be judged on my performance in the sack, so I guess I should celebrate the fact that I’m down to only one area where I am on trial 24/7.
Remember when I was scolded for not properly utilizing the magic elves at Christmas? Yea, well. I screwed up again. They were hidden in my closet, which became ground zero for Truth or Dare during a sleep over, unbeknownst to me. When I went to investigate the disappearance of 3 boys and 3 girls, I found them gathered on my bed, and the contents of my closet (big enough for the clothes of an elf, ironically) strewn about the floor. In one corner sat an elf. The other was facedown on the bed.
The jig was up.
“Mama, why are the elves here?”
My response: “Why are YOU here?”
I herded them to the living room, reminding them that my room is off limits unless I am there with them. (Girl needs some privacy in house of boys.) After our guests departed The Dudes and I had a conversation about the elves. In short, I spoke of our responsibility as parents to insure that children learn about the magic of life. And because it can sometimes be hard to see magic, we follow in the footsteps of the most magical of all, Santa, and insure his spirit lives on.
The Little Dude was like, “Cool. I love Santa. I can’t wait to see what he brings me this year.”
I looked toward the Tall Dude. He started to speak. I made this weird circle motion with both my eyes going in opposite directions. He was disturbed by the sight and clammed up. Later that night he yelled to me from the living room, “Mama, if you’re the elves does that mean you’re Santa too?”
My response: “I can’t hear you!” I needed time to think. If I screw this up I’m going to be shredded for sure.
The next day I took the Tall Dude aside and we talked about the spirit of Santa and our responsibility as parents to carry on that magical spirit. He got a kick out of asking me, “So was that you? Did Dad do that? Did you get me the bicycle?” The best part so far has been watching him try to keep the magic of the North Pole alive for his little brother. I’ll need to work with him on the perils of overcompensating.
Along with that coming of age experience, we had an elevated level of sibling bickering, one-upmanship, and a stomach ache that kept the Tall Dude and me up until 4AM. Oh, and the dog is incontinent.
Hence, I spent the weekend over-parenting.
I realized what I was doing – chipping away at their self-esteem by not letting them work this s…tuff out on their own. As the adult, it’s my responsibility to chill out while they work it out. So my gift to them on Mother’s Day is this:
Mama’s Manifesto for a Magical Childhood
1. I won’t take away the hurts and not fun times. They teach us how to accept life and the muck that comes with the ludicrous amounts of awesomeness.
2. I won’t lecture you about vegetables anymore. In fact, I don’t want to spend any time talking about food unless it’s with you at the counter and we’re covered in ingredients for some exotic dish we’re creating. And if you don’t like it when it’s done that is perfectly okay. But I'm still not going to let you drink soda unless it's an official holiday. Gimme that.
3. I won’t make every moment a teaching moment. That gets lame. It takes us out of the present moment. We’re here to learn together. Let’s let the moments teach us.
4. I won’t stop you from making mistakes. It’s how we learn to be self-sufficient, and most importantly, it’s how we get comfortable taking risks. In this lifetime you want to take risks. Not Epic Fail style jump off the roof and try to land on a unicycle held by your brother type of blockhead risks. Smart risks. Risks that expand your horizons. The ones that you will look back on as game-changers in your magical life.
5. I won’t in any way make you feel that you are responsible for my happiness. That’s not your job. And I won’t take responsibility for yours. Happiness is not a burden for someone else to shoulder. We make our own happy.
6. I won’t wear any clothes that embarrass you. I promise. No jog bras on the playground.
7. I won’t insist you call or text me every day. Instead, I will be present in every moment that we are together.
8. I will celebrate you for who YOU are. I birthed you, but I didn’t make you.
9. I will answer every question you ask honestly. (See #3)
10. I will love you unconditionally. Forever.
I’m grateful you chose me as your Mom. To walk the planet in this lifetime with you is priceless. My Mother's Day gift has already been opened. Being fully present in the moment and changed beautifully by trauma has made me a better mom. Happy Mother's Day to all who embrace and nurture their maternal instincts and their witchy intuition. XO
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