Sometimes things don’t seem to have an end in sight – be it a renovation project, or a task for which you volunteered your time when you didn’t have any time to volunteer. For a person, like me, who has a “gnat-like” attention span with at least 10 balls in the air at any one time, a burning platform under her feet, and is constantly chased by the bogey monster of procrastination, patience is forever out of reach. So when I don’t see an end in sight and an powerless to usher in a conclusion, I am one very unhappy camper.
Take for example the job of raising two independent, self-actualizing young men. A self-actualized person means someone who has reached their full potential – something I hope for my two boys… that feels so far out of my reach!
The 11-year old and seven-and-a-half year old have now been out of school for a good month. By the time you read this, I will have survived five weeks, four days, and thirteen hours of a break from the usual routine of school, homework, wash, rinse, repeat! I will have endured the twenty-or-so questions every day before 10:00am for what feels like a million times: “What’s for breakfast?” “Can I play on the iPad / iPhone / Xbox / Nintendo / computer?” “Can we go for a bike ride?” “Can we go for a scooter ride?” “Can x come to our house?” “Can I go to y’s house?” “When can we go to a hotel?” “Why did you get another white car?” “Why didn’t you just buy a Ferrari?” “Would you rather eat a hamburger that tastes like coke, or drink a coke that tastes like hamburger?”…I actually have an answer for that last one.
It. Does. Not. End…EVER.
What kind of parent would I be if I squash their creativity? If I say, “NO MORE QUESTIONS!!” What if, say, I just so happened to have a slight lapse…and say that lapse was appropriately timed after the twenty-first question of, “would you rather never puke or never have to cut your toenails?”…would I still be hastily judged?
How about if during the barrage of questions between 9 and 10am – which only happen to be when I’m first starting to feel like a human because these children won’t go to sleep until 10:30 or 11:00pm every night because it’s too bright outside which means I get about 5 minutes of “me-time” before I pass out and they still get up at 7am and hover around me like little satellites? Allow me a continuance as I make my case: at 7am I am still wiping sleep from my eyes because I woke up at 3am, 4am, and 5am before I finally got to a deep sleep and am wiping the drool from my cheek and patting down my ever frizzing hair all while blindly searching for coffee…any coffee…so that I can begin answering the questions coming at light speed and one word answers won’t do, nor will taking too long as they reframe the question in at least three different ways…how about then???!!
What about when the whining starts from nowhere? Because the 11 year old took the turn of the 7.5 year old and asked two questions in a row? HOW ABOUT when you’ve broken away and snuck into your closet to pen this monthly contribution…and they find you with, “Hi…what are you doing in there? Ooooh…what’s this?” CAN I ASK THEM TO STOP THEN?
Will that put the promise of raising independent, self-actualizing adults at risk??
I will preface here to say that now I’m whining. I am, by no means, doing this alone. Mr. Niceguy is in this with me yet somehow, he does a much better job. You wanna go for a bike ride? Sure. A night swim only an hour after you’ve already swam and showered and are all ready for bed? Why not. Movies on a weeknight starting at 9pm? But of course – it’s summer! He’s an awesome, super-fun, perspective-having dad. But that’s not me. I have no perspective. I’m the planner. I’m the timekeeper. I’m the goal setter…
Incidentally this goal was not initially mine. Rather, this was a legacy inherited from my Mom 2. The little time I had with her before she passed could, in some ways, fill an eternity and yet, eternity doesn’t seem large enough to contain all that I feel when I think about our moments together.
When I first met my future mother in law, the original Mrs. Nicemom, I stopped dead in my tracks. Here stood a woman with an impressive stature, beguiling eyes the same shade of unique blue as Mr. Niceguy, with a kind-but-cautious expression on her face and all I could think was, “Will she approve of me?” She was so incredibly kind and warm – the personification of a nurturing hug. At that moment, I could have never known what a profound impact she would have in my life…despite only being in it for a mere three years.
Among the key things I learned from her – including that she had self admittedly mistakenly prescribed to the school of thought where you don’t tell your children to clean up their rooms, a mistake that was somewhat rectified in the first decade of my marriage – was the importance of time…and the longing for more of it. I never got to ask her my twenty questions…but while the chapter came to an end, the story did not. Everytime I look at my boys faces I remember her legacy and that goal – she’s ever present.
So…perhaps stopping the barrage of questions is not the best course – for either of us. While it will be important to perhaps, carve out some space and ask for some “mommy time” during these heydays of summer, together with a little bit of balanced discipline, it’s equally valuable to join in and let the imagination run wild figuring out whether I prefer a popcorn that tastes like pancakes, or pancakes that taste like popcorn…or whether I’d rather never barf or never be bitten by mosquitoes, or better yet, when ARE we going to a hotel???