Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The care & keeping of an old me

If you know me well, you know I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about and dealing with aging. I don’t mean aging in my forties, I mean aging aging. Aging with a capital A. And I’ve come to a conclusion: it sucks. And I don’t want to do it. But, God willing, I will, and so I want to tell my kids something. I can’t tell them now or they’ll roll their eyes and tell me I'm annoying, but I can write it down so they read it eventually. So...

Dear kids:

When I get old, don’t dismiss me. Please don’t think I am less of a person because I am dependent or seem mentally absent. Please remember who I am, and not how I may appear.

If my hands shake, remember that these hands hold you and wipe your tears. These hands shampoo your hair and make your favorite cookies and clap for you until they’re red and stinging. These hands keep you safe in parking lots and rub sunscreen on you and wrap your birthday presents. These hands have painted your nails (yes, even you, Jack, when you were two and insisted) and thrown baseballs and played with play-doh and taught you how to paint like Monet or Jackson Pollock.

If my eyes fail, remember that these eyes have seen the words I've read to you since before you were born. Remember that these eyes watched you both learn how to ride bikes and saw you score goals in soccer games and swing on tire swings. Remember that these eyes gauge how your day went when you are still 100 feet away, just leaving the school building.

If I can’t remember things, remember that this mind can tell you where to find a missing shoe or overdue library book. This mind regales you with stories from long ago, when I and my crazy siblings were young or when Daddy and I met or when you were babies. This mind has cataloged and appreciated every moment of your existence.

If I am weak, remember that these legs can power walk to your school balancing an art project, two backpacks, a water bottle and a jacket. Remember that this strong body can ski and hike and ride bikes and swim and jump in waves with you. Remember that, though you’re ten and seven and a half and getting a little too tall for this, this body can pick you up when you’re hurt or even when you just want a hug or you're tired.

If I sleep too much...well, then, actually, I don’t want to hear about it. I deserve it. I haven’t slept through the night since I first got pregnant. So don't wake me up.

If I look old and wrinkly, tell me I’m still beautiful and that I earned every single wrinkle the hard way. And that you're amazing, which proves it.

If my voice quivers, remember that this voice can bellow up the stairs when it’s dinnertime or yell down the block when you’re playing with the neighbors. Remember that this voice cheers for you as you play sports or perform in a show. Remember that this voice laughs the loudest at your jokes. Remember that this voice recited "Wynken, Blynken & Nod" every single night of your lives until you told me to stop. This voice sang every known lullaby to you, albeit horribly off key...this voice lulled you to sleep more times than I can count.

If my ears fail and you have to scream at me to be heard, remember that these ears are so acute they don’t miss one midnight "Mommy?" coming from your rooms. Yes, they’re the same ears that hear when you haven’t turned off the TV when asked, and the ears that catch you saying bad words or muttering at me under your breath. But they listen to you sing (oh, boy, do they) and they listen to you read and they listen to how your day was and they listen to why you’re excited or mad or sad. They hear your whole childhood.

All these things about me now are part of my soul. My soul is who I have ever been: the bossy third grader (shocking, I know) and the high school girl in the Catholic-school, polyester kilt and the sorority girl and the newly employed graduate so excited to wear a suit. My soul is the 24 year old who met Daddy and the 32 and 34 year olds who brought brand new babies home. My soul loves the dog and throws great parties and is a perennial room parent. My soul is my competitive streak and my sensitivity and my feelings. My soul is my laugh. My soul is my energy. My soul is the love I have for my family. And my soul will never age, and never fail me, even when my body and mind do.

So kids. When I am old and do gross things and need your help and you start to feel sorry for me, just stop. That’s an order. Stop. And look hard to find or remember who I really am, and appreciate my soul. Because I can assure you that the essence of who I am will never disappear.

Oh, and guys? If I wet my pants or drool, that’s just payback. I’m probably doing it on purpose just to push your buttons.



Friday, May 18, 2012

Top ten most frequently heard phrases from my (top) ten year old

In a minute/In just a sec/Later.

It’s not inappropriate.

It’s so unfair.

You don’t understand.

All my friends can read/see/say/hear it.

You make me go to bed so (yawn) early.

I heard you, I just didn’t know you wanted an answer.

I want a playdate.

This show will be over in just a few minutes.

I know I picked it out (and so you took the tags off and washed it), but I’ve decided I don’t like it anymore.

And then, almost every night, I get a sleepy, "You’re the best mommy ever."

And that, my friends, is how I get through trying parenting days. Like today.

(Note to Caroline, when you find this blog and need therapy: Yes. You say all these things, almost every day. Yes, they push every button I have. Yes, I probably said them to my mother, so I will try not to assume you're going to end up a crazy lonely old lady with a lot of cats. Rather, I think you'll end up just like me -- with a payback kid you love with all your heart.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Are you a Perfect Mother? I'm not.

Lately I’ve been inundated with The Perfect Mother. I’ve seen The Perfect Mother on television shows and commercials. I’ve read about The Perfect Mother in books. I’ve heard from my kids about how all the other mothers are, in fact, The Perfect Mother. I’ve seen The Perfect Mother at soccer games, sitting quietly in her chair, not sweating or swearing to herself or hopping up and down like a lunatic. (No, of course I’m not describing myself.)

So, with Mother’s Day coming up, I thought about whether there’s any planet on which I could be described as The Perfect Mother. I know I’m a Darned Good Mother, but Perfect? Hmmm...

Well, no. Not really. Not a chance.

Actually, really pretty far from it.

Perfect Mothers are mature. I pull my husband's pajama pants down when he's walking up the stairs in front of me.

Perfect Mothers are trustworthy. My children have to hide their Easter baskets from me or they know all the Reese's peanut butter products will disappear while they're at school and I will claim to have seen nothing.

Perfect Mothers are respectful. I yell at old people who drive slowly when I'm in a hurry.

Perfect Mothers always insist on proper nutrition. Sometimes I let my kids have chocolate at 8 a.m.

Perfect Mothers are always obedient. I constantly explain to my children that very stupid rules can, and often should, be broken.

Perfect Mothers are cautious and never scream. You should see me flying down a huge hill on a saucer during a snowstorm.

Perfect Mothers are consummate grownups, through and through. Outside, I’m 42. Inside, I still feel like that high school kid sneaking Sun Country wine coolers in a field after a football game.

Perfect Mothers are diplomatic and never snarky. I tell my kids that they're acting bratty and that their friends have issues.

Perfect Mothers are impeccably neat at all times. I love to play in the mud and stomp through rain puddles.

Perfect Mothers aren't competitive. I have to be restrained so I don't join my kids on the soccer fields to help their teams win.

Perfect Mothers are totally appropriate. Umm, have you read my blog?

Perfect Mothers don't like potty talk. My favorite joke is, "Why did Tigger stick his head in the toilet?" "He was looking for Pooh." That was also Jack’s favorite joke at age 4. (Really, I am a bad mommy.)

So the Perfect Mother? Not me. Not at all.

But that’s okay. I’m pretty certain I’m a Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Maker. I’m a Perfect Cuddler. I’m a Perfect Stuffed Animal Vet. I’m a Perfect Tear Wiper Away-er. I’m a Perfect Hugger. I’m a Perfect Prankster and, as we know, a Better-Than-Perfect Wine Drinker. (I would say I’m a Perfect Love-er and a Perfect Swing-er but those would get totally misinterpreted).

So happy Mother’s Day. I'm not a Perfect Mother, and maybe you're not either. But I do know we’re all perfect in one way or another.