Friday, December 24, 2010

wise beyond his years...

Tonight I had a major ‘mommy gut check’.  Definitely not something I’m proud to admit, but recently I’ve been questioning my capabilities as an ‘all around great’ mommy, especially when it comes to my oldest, Gav.  He’s just 4 1/2 years old, but of course since he’s the oldest in the family, and significantly taller than most (ok, pretty much all) of the kids his age, I tend to do exactly what I get annoyed at others for doing–expecting more of him.  I know that I’m a ‘good mommy’ in the way I keep him fed, clothed, entertained, and overall ‘happy’, but it’s the more ‘intense’ part of mommyhood that I feel my talents might be needing a bit of refinement.

I’ve heard it countless times, and am guilty of repeating it as *advice* to those friends of mine who are expecting their second child.  The transition from zero to one is definitely a shock, but going from one to two…that’s the true challenge.  Ok, not the most profound, nor helpful ‘advice’ for a mommy to hear…but in my opinion, it has definitely proven to be true on many occassions (i.e. daily).  So many plates in the air, and never quite enough hands to keep them all spinning…scheduling naps/feedings/changing/showers/cooking/cleaning/SLEEP!  Then, as they grow, the challenge of scheduling is now compounded by maintaining sanity among fights/bites/hair pulling/toy stealing/random owies.  Think lots of tears (both kids and mommies), lots of kisses and hugs, and possibly a few extra glasses of pinot noir.  I’m proud to say I survived that stage with most of my sanity (thanks mostly to that pinot noir!), but now I’m entering the next stage…having opinions–and stating them–frequently.

My daughter B is 2 1/2 going on about 20 and is a complete and total firecracker personality.  If I weren’t currently pregnant, I’d be drinking as we go through this potty training escapade (refer to my previous post–the living room floor has been *christened*, and my foot was what made the discovery).  B has this whimsical approach to life that has my husband and I convinced that she’ll end up barefoot, wearing a skirt made of wheat, dancing on Pearl Street in Boulder (nothing wrong with that…just a different kind of lifestyle ;)   Ever since she’s been able to talk, B has mananged to make things quite adorable, in her own little way.  Her rabbit-toothed smile and Cosmo Kramer hair style has you wrapped around her finger from moment one.  More often than not, it’s daddy who is wrapped around her finger, and mommy falls in a close second.  Enter the developing problem.

I’ve realized that our adoration for those little rabbit teeth and approach to her 2 year old life with reckless abandon is starting to impact the way in which B is viewed by older brother.  Sure, ‘she’s a girl’ is a great concept when explaining why we let her get away with things that had previously been a faux pas, however in a 4 year olds’ eyes, it’s not an equitable explanation.  And now, we have some explaining to do.
Tonight, I had my little ducklings follow me up the stairs so that I could tuck them in, sing them a song, say prayers, and count the number of ‘sleeps’ until Santa comes.  Check, check, check, check for Miss B, although she wasn’t happy about it.  Then it’s Gav’s turn.  I get him to the point of being tucked in and am deciding on a song when he relalizes one of his ninety ‘lovies’ is downstairs–’free colors mank’ (that’s three colors blanket to the layperson).  I sigh, and head back down to find it wrapped haphazardly around yet another stuffed animal on the couch.  Why I didn’t just grab the stuffed gorilla, I’ll never know, because when I arrived back up in his room I was met with sad eyes and a plead for said animal.  *Audible sigh* and a not-so-nice thing to say, and I’m back downstairs rescuing the lone lovey from the couch.
Upon entering Gav’s room, I noticed the most heartwrenching scene.  My preschooler, tucked with covers up to his chin, thumb in his mouth, Eeyore peeking out from his grip, and tears.  Tears, brimming at his eyes.  As I write, my own eyes reflect the image I saw because the memory will be with me forever.  Immediately, I go over to his bedrail and lean down, face-to-face.  I ask him what’s wrong, prod him to talk to me.  I want to know, but am scared to hear his response, for I have a strong feeling I know what it is.  My fears come true when he tells me, “Mommy, you are mean to me.  I’m just a kid.”…  I can’t even see, my eyes blurred with the reality of my fears coming true.  I lay down next to Gav to have a talk.  Words exchanged, tears shed (primarily mine), and a ‘pinkie square’ deal at the end…I turn off his light, shut the door, and slide down the wall, burying my head in my lap to mask the sound of my sobs.

My husband, my rock…the person who can rationalize anything for me, isn’t home (secretly, I’m thankful, because I cannot get myself together!).  He calls shortly after I text him to tell him how I’m feeling like the worst mom ever.  He’ll be home in a few minutes, but wants to hear what happened.  I relay the details to him, holding back sobs as much as possible (fail).  I explain how we’re harder on him than we should be, how he views the injustices of his role in this family, all because he’s the oldest, and doesn’t have the same personality type as his sister.  I fully expected my husband to call me crazy, and tell me he’ll see me soon.  It only sort of happened that way.  He said he’d be home in 15 minutes, so we disconnected.
After finishing his huge sub dinner (mmm…#13 Mike’s Way from Jersey Mikes), my husband explained to me that while yes, we might be a little harder on Gav than we need to be, there is a purpose behind our parenting style.  It’s just that.  We parent.  We expect him to be responsible enough to remember to bring his own personal belongings up to bed with him.  We expect that he can get dressed himself and clear his plate and help out with letting the dogs in and out of the house.  It’s helping him to become a responsible person, rather than a helpless, dependent slug like so many kids are becoming.

But it’s those little things.  Those things that I am overreacting about, that need to change.  Things like a little spill, or tears over his sister choosing the same snack, or frustration over his favorite team losing.  These things that seem like he shouldn’t have let happen, things that seem silly to me, or things that seem like something that he just needs to ‘get over’.  All of these ‘things’ aren’t just ‘things’ to him.  While I’m viewing them as a molehill because I know that there are far bigger fish to fry in life, he’s seeing them as a mountain.  My newest resolution is to start to see these molehills for the mountains that they truly are, because, as Gav so heartbreakingly reminded me…he’s just a kid.

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