There is something about watching old television shows that is truly idiotic, and not in a slap stick Lucy and Ethel get into trouble way. It's those Leave It to Beaver, Donna Reed, Father knows Best shows that need to be taken off the air for good, sorry Nick@Nite Channel... but this is one Mom that can't take it anymore! I'm sick and tired of being reminded everyday that I am NOT Donna Reed, or worse, Mrs. Fuckin' Clever!
It's hard enough just to get through the day without the rediculous expectation of being super uber Mom who keeps her cool under all conditions and for many tv-oholics like myself, we've been brainwashed to believe that this is even possible in today's society and now must rewire our brains to accept reality as the new acceptable norm.
This morning is a prime example of reality hitting me squarely across the noggin'.
It's seven thirty in the morning, I have told Minnie and Teeny to get dressed and eat their breakfast. I listen to them run around the house looking for the "right" clothes and clean socks. (For some reason, our socks don't like to walk their way up from the laundry basket in the basement. ) Now it's quarter to eight, "Did you eat your breakfast?"
"You better eat before you don't have time..." I try to remain calm. Now don't misunderstand me and think that I believe sending the girls to school without breakfast is a good idea, I just think that at seven and almost ten, they are able to prioritize what needs to be accomplished in the morning, the same three things that need to be accomplished every morning. Get dressed. Eat Breakfast. Walk to school. Not rocket science!
In my quest to teach them responsibility and independence, we have worked months of this particular threesome. Some days each of them prides themselves on getting themselves ready for the day. Today is not one of those days.
Eight o'clock. Time to get on coats and shoes and get out the door. Teeny is sitting by the side door wrapped in her fuzzy Valentines fleece blanket. Minnie runs up and down the stairs, looking for Teeny's shoes.
"What are you doing? Where is Teeny?"
"She's sitting by the door."
"Go ahead on to school, I'll deal with her." I instruct my eldest.
Okay, time to step in. I go to the side door and find my youngest daughter. "What are you doing?" I find myself barking, "get your shoes on!" I shove her feet into her shoes, whipping the blanket off of her shoulders. "Where's your coat?"
"I don't know."
"Well, go find it, look up in your room!"
I spend hours a week picking up toys and clothes, cleaning bedrooms, discovering snacks under beds and washing dishes and folding clothes. Is it too much to ask for them to be responsible for their jackets? If they hung them up on the hook by the door, then they'd have no problem. Is it my problem if they want to drag it all over the house?
"Hurry up, or you're going to be late!"
Teeny sulks upstairs and returns with her coat and homework bag in her hand.
I make her walk alone, her sister having left nearly 10 minutes before. It's now 8:18 and the first bell rings at 8:25. It is only two and half blocks to school, but I will not drive her in the car. I am reminded of the time that my own mother made me walk nearly a mile to school one morning when I got up late and I indeed was tardy to school. I am also reminded that it only happened once and I learned my lesson.
I feel a bit guilty as I watch her walk down the driveway in tears, but I remain strong. I cannot go back on my word. I hate it when I see parents in the store threatening to leave and then amazingly when I am in back of them at the check-out, their children have gum and candy bars in their hands to pacify them. If you threaten, you must follow through. End of Story. Period. Just last night we got within two feet of the grocery store when I had to send them back to the car; no ice cream for them, no ice cream for Mom. It sucked, but it made a clear point. When I threaten, I will follow through.
I wait by the phone, anxious to see if I get a call from school that she didn't make it in time to join her line outside by the playground when the bell rang. 8:40, no call. 8:50, no call. She must have made it in time.
Now believe me when I tell you, I am not a hard ass, a tyrant. There are many things that my friends and my children can attest to that occur in my home that you will not find in others. For example, slumber parties in the basement till all hours of the night, no question of what they are doing, how big a mess they are making, why there is half a pizza on the floor and a bag full of powder sugar donuts scattered on the couch. This is not a battle I fight, nor care about. I will deal with this in the morning, once children have gone home and I am at one with my big garbage can and vacuum. I want my children to be children, to have fun without my interference as long as they are safe.
I want my kids to know that I know that their home is a home where fun is permitted and boundaries are set widely. A drawer full of snacks to take at their discretion, you bet! I think of the hundreds of cookies and snacks I hid under my shirt on my way to my room and laugh at the memory. Hours at the pool, craft projects where the mess at the table is not questioned, nor expected, entire bedrooms fitted with entertainment centers, movies and video games...these kids have it easy, they are living a grand life!
But on the flip side, I know it is my responsibility to prepare them to be on their own and this is one lesson that is important: time management and responsibility for self in those constraints. It's a lesson that I find many adults still grapple with and I hope my children will learn before adulthood. I personally am a stickler when it comes to being on time. I see it as respect for where I am to be or who I am to meet. Of course, there are things out of my control that can keep me from getting to my destination from time to time, that comes with being a mother with three kids in tow. But for the most part, I pride myself in managing my time and being efficient in all that I do.
So I struggle to find a balance in my life as a newly single Mom and on most days I find myself amazed at my capabilities and patience. A new normal is being set into motion and I am finding myself on a hit and miss venture. Most days go off with only minor situations, ones that I can over look or catch myself in a calm lesson learned environment.
I still cook well balanced home cooked meals. Not as often as I did before, but still more then many people I know. I end each meal with a special desert, a snack before bed to keep tummys full until morning. I wash and fold their clothes, make their beds, pick up after them constantly, but not in pearls and heels. I dance to Miley Cyrus and pretend to care about the quiz in the latest teen-bop magazine. I play Wii and watch High School Musical for the 100th time. I understand the importance of sharp tipped crayons and have been in attendance of over 1000 tea parties in my life, including preparing tiny plates of minature sandwiches and cookies, slices of cheese and real hot chocolate to pour and inevitable spill in the tiny porcelain cups. My kids are my life.
Yet on the off days, I have to remind myself...I am not Donna Reed, nor do I want to be.