Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Child I Thought I Knew


I've discovered many things since having my kids. I've discovered I am not a patient person, which I sort of knew. Many around me knew alot sooner. I've discovered that I like to be silly. Many knew that too. I've discovered I'm more like my father than I had hoped to be. He is not someone that I have admired much as a person. Granted he's no longer here to defend himself but still. I've discovered that I need to be selfish and not get mad when my kids are. That I learned this evening.

I think sometimes we place undue expectation on our kids. I know I do. I expect too much of them sometimes and then get mad when I set them up to fail. I figure that I have set clear guidelines about behaviour. I have modeled good manners. I have shown how to be patient (believe it or not I can be when the need arises). I have displayed how to be tolerant, understanding and empathetic. I have educated my kids on how to be frugal, earth conscious and globally aware. Well as much as you can with 8 and 9 year olds.

What I've discovered about all of this is that it doesn't really matter right now. Kids are inherantly selfish. They take narcissism to a new level. And that makes me angry. Completely and unreasonably so. I spend my days working hard for other people. For my job, for my husband, for my Brownies, for my kid's school, for my friends, for everyone. I believe in giving the most you are capable of when you commit to something. I believe that it is important to help others and have a glad heart about it. What I cannot stand is selfishness. It drives me bendy. I've discovered that I need to be selfish or I will go bendy permanently. I've discovered that giving of myself all the time to others is heading me down the path to bendy. While I like to be flexible, bendy is not a state of being that I am willing to embrace.

I've discovered that I am beginning to resent not being selfish. I have given my children my body, my heart, my time and most of my mind. I have spent over 7 years fighting for my A child and then compensating with my B child. I have sacrificed jobs, furniture, trips, expensive clothes, and all manner of treats because I thought wanting those things was selfish. My children needed things more than I did. My children needed good memories in case I died young like my father. My children needed the solid foundation of love and support and happiness that was shaky in my youth. My children, my children, my children.

I've discovered that my kids have no idea what I have done for them. They don't instinctively know and appreciate what I have had to give up to have them. They tra la la in their own world and have no idea the nights I have spent panicking about paying bills, affording activities, being able to buy groceries. They don't intuitively pick up that Mom has given so much of herself that she may need a moment to recoup. All they think of is them. It is both true and necessary. I don't want them to grown up tiptoeing around me like I did my parents. Worrying, watching, watiting for the smack in the back of the head for some unknown infraction.

I've discovered that my A child is a gift. That he has taught me patience, tenacity, compassion, and endless love. Something I didn't think I had when he was born. Now I cry at the thought of him because of how much he has gone through and how much I desperately love him. I see that my A child is trying to find his way. He does not intentionally dawdle. He does not intentionally spill on the table. He does not intentionally try to drive me bendy. Well most days anyway.

I've discovered that my B child has strength and vulnerability. She is so sure that she is right all the time and she will fight to the end even when she knows she is wrong. She has taught me that girls are powerful, a force to be reckoned with. She has shown me what a mother and daughter can mean to each other when the parents aren't yelling all the time. She has shown me gifts about myself I didn't even know I had. She has shown me that it is ok to be vulnerable.

I've discovered myself in my kids. I see my oddities, my tastes, my strengths, my weaknesses. I see my gifts to them in the endless stories and cuddles and I love you always that they hear so much. I see myself as a child looking at the world just a little differently than most. I watch my daughter fight to the end and see myself having to show that I am right no matter what. I watch my son as he struggles to fit in and see myself on the fringe. I see them thinking outside themselves occasionally and know that is because they are growing up. I see the child I was and how fast I had to grow up.

I've discovered that I need to not mind so much that my kids are in a selfish phase. This means they are still kids. They have not be marked by tragedy and dysfunction. They have not had their hearts scarred so they feel guilty and unable to be selfish as adults. I don't mean selfish in a mean way but in the way that we should take care of ourselves as well. Say no once in a while without that pang of guilt. Maybe I am not such a bad parent after all.

I've also discovered something that is quite healing. I was a neat kid. I was unique and interesting. I was bright and talented and intelligent. I always wondered why I had friends - what did anyone see in me ? Now I see my kids and I know. I discover I was not the child I thought I knew, but better. Worthwhile knowing even.

Thank God for my selfish kids. May I go quietly in to the bendy night.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

All i can say is .....Wow.