I can come up with a million over-used euphemisms about the nature of parenting, but we all know what is really going on here.
Sometimes, this shit is not fun or easy.
While I feel like I SHOULD preface this with the standard “I love my child and am so thankful that he is here and healthy and ALIVE”, maybe we shouldn’t have to do that. Maybe we should live in a world where we all assume that we love our kids and are doing the best jobs we can do. Even when we are really, really frustrated and not digging the whole parenting job in general.
Here’s the thing, C and I had a wonderful day today, and these days don’t come often. It was one of those days where I could see the kid he was (and the man he’s becoming) peeking out through layers of pre-teen, testosterone-fueled angst. Like sunshine streaking through clouds of the most violent August thunderstorm. One minute he’s telling me all the reasons why being an only child will ruin his life and the next? He’s holding the door open for thirty people and, smiling, telling them to have a nice day. One night he will kiss me on the cheek and give me a hug before bed – for reasons unknown to me. The next morning he will stomp through the house with the thick, tangible demeanor of a teenager with the entire world against him.
On those bad days, when I pick him up at school and on the way home hear the litany of things he hates and all that went wrong at school and oh, by the way, he has two detentions next week – it’s all I can do to keep my hands on the wheel. I try to breathe deeply and imperceptibly, but some days I sigh in audible frustration and disapproval. Some days I say words that I can never take back – words he will remember for his whole life. I drive home those days and wish that I could be one of those parents who always liked their kids – one of the parents whose kids always wanted to be home and willingly went on family vacations. I remember what it’s like to feel that dislike, that disapproval, as a middle-aged child. I have spent SO much time trying to figure out what I can do to help – but this week I realized something.
I spend all my time trying to figure out what I can do to make him act the way I want him to.
There’s a twinge of manipulation in this that, the more I think about it , doesn’t sit well with me. His life is not going to be irreparably damaged because he doesn’t want to be on math team or because he doesn’t obsessively practice his penalty kicks. Does he have incredible talent in both of those areas? Yes. Does he need to be 150% invested to gain any benefits from these activities? No. My boy, he loves music. He’s more perceptive than I wanted him to be, but because of this, he loves poetry.Because he questions everything, he will sometimes get into trouble. Also, because has a keen ability to turn a humorous phrase. He can make an instrument out of garbage and a symphony out of any chore.
That, my friends, is more than enough.