Mom’s are so, so important aren’t they? They’re the structural steel that go into the building of our children’s characters.
The influence a mom has on her children is too deep, too indelible to properly sort out…even after years of therapy. (Ah, not that I’d know…ahem)
I lucked out with my mom - kind, gentle, thoughtful. Hard working, sensitive, well-read. Poised, controlled, determined.
Mom loves to read. Growing up I would often walk into the room and mom had her nose deep in a book. Hi mom. I’d say. Silence.
Silence. The sound of eyeballs scrolling back and forth on the page. The sound of her fingers snipping a page by the corner and pulling it back. Eyeballs scrolling again.
“Angela, really, what IS it?”
“I can’t remember…”
I thought, when I grow up I’m going to just pay attention to every little thing my daughter says to me. (Pause for laughter here).
Well now I have books I love to read too, and an iPhone with apps and messages and music and Facebook. It’s bad. And I don’t even need any of these things to accidentally tune Ellie out.
She chatters away in the background, all day, and I’ve gotten used to picking out the important bits.
ELLIE: “Mom, Is it cloudy outside? There are lots of LEAVES! Mommy, is the storm passed? I hope so. Mommy I found Toby’s ball! Toby’s ball is here! It’s wet. I’m hungry. Is Benji sleeping? I want a treat. I have to go potty. Where is my Kindle? Is it time for Daniel Tiger? No, it’s still play time. The sky is blue Mommy.”
ME: “You have to go potty baby? And how about some strawberries for a snack?”
I felt pretty proud of myself, except the other day when Bill crowded in on my day-dreams about going to the bathroom by myself to tell me Ellie was trying to get my attention. Instantly embarrassed. Guess my ‘tune-out’ radar wasn’t filtering very well.
“What is it baby?”
“Um. I want to watch Daniel Tiger.”
“Ok baby but we’re in the car so maybe when we get home.”
I’m both vindicated (Clearly my tune-out radar was working fine) and annoyed.
Bill works. A lot. He gets these snap shots of the kids so everything is big and colorful and awesome and he isn’t mentally and physically exhausted by their constant demands. I’m annoyed because I could have kept day-dreaming and he interrupted it for a total non-issue.
I look over at him, just seething with irritation. He hums along to the Beatles on the radio and is totally oblivious. I am certain it is this total lack of sensitivity to the emotional situations he finds himself in that enables us to stay married. If we had to TALK about every time I am annoyed at him, well, lets just say it’s best it blows over.
He is doing well with Ellie. Probably around age 2 or so, when she really started being able to communicate well his usefulness went way up and my annoyance at him went way down.
I have no reason to think the same thing won’t happen with little Benji. The same emotional blindness that allows us to stay happily (ish) married prevents him from understanding the nonverbal cues that is a baby’s only way to connect with us.
I know you. You think I’m exaggerating to be funny. Let me tell you a quick story, something that happened LAST WEEK.
It’s 30 minutes past Ellie’s bed time. I finally fed, bathed, changed and put Ben to bed. I walk in the room where she's screaming and throwing things and ask why she’s not in bed. “She’s not tired.” He says. Clearly.
The bedroom light was on, music was blaring from his phone, she’s still in her play clothes, and they’re playing a rousing game of ‘catch the balloon as it bops around the room.’ He really doesn’t understand that she’s actually exhausted.
“Sweetie. She needs time to wind down. About an hour before bedtime you need to turn off her big light, close the blinds, give her a bath, get her in her jammies, warm up her milk, play quiet, calm games.”
I’m not sure if he was expecting her to turn to him and in a proper British accent tell him ‘Father, I believe it is time for last vittles and bed. Please tuck me in now.”
I digress. We’re all doing our best. Some of us are just doing it a little better than others…thank goodness for moms everywhere.
Oh I’m funny. Why am I not taking this show on the road? Anyway, what was my point again? Mom’s are awesome. Go call one if you can, or better yet go home and do some dishes. And if dad was mom AND dad, for whatever reason, well, you better go vacuum too. And wash the car.
“Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help mom with the dishes.” P.J O’Rourke.