It is nowhere near bed time (darnit) but I am tucked into bed. I have two cats using me for body heat, the poodle on the floor next to me, a glass of wine by the bed and silence. Silence marred by the wind howling outside and a Taylor Swift song stuck on repeat playing from Faith’s room next door. I can’t hear it well enough to know which one it is, but it is definitely playing over and over.
Still, it’s nice in here. Nice and warm compared with the freezing weather outside. I should be downstairs hanging with the kids. They’d like the attention from me but I’m feeling a little bit pulled in all directions today so I’m being selfish with my alone time. Is this one of those moments I’ll look back on in six years when I am all alone and regret?
Who knows. Probably in six years I’ll be lucky to remember six minutes ago.
This week I met a mom who inspires me. She’s a single mom and her daughter pulled one of those stunts that gives a mom gray hairs. The kind of thing that ages us two years in two days. Just the sort of nonsense where your first instinct is to say, “I’m so glad you’re okay!” and then your next is to to yell, “Now I’m going to kill you!”
You know what this mom did? She went into her daughter’s room and removed everything but books and a notepad. Make-up, hair straightener, radio, mp3 player, the cute clothes … she took it all out. Then she took the cell phone back to the store where she bought it. Her daughter went to school for a week with her hair in a ponytail and no make up on. After a week of good behavior, her mom let her pick one thing to put back in her room. That’s the way it’s going to go for a while. The daughter is miserable - as she should be.
Parenting is hard. Hard and often unpopular. I think of that as I’m making my kids go to bed and then making them get out of bed. I think about it again as I check their grades and ground them and make them do their chores. It’s harder to do all of this now. Harder because I don’t have back up and harder because it seems more important now for them to like me. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m afraid that now that they theoretically have options about where to live that they’ll choose the other one. Maybe I just feel bad that they’ve been through so much and I just want to be nice to them. Maybe it’s just easier to let things go.
I’ve always described myself as a control freak, and I was. Not so much anymore. All the details that I used to sweat seem unimportant now. I was listening to a woman recently complain about her week. I nodded sympathetically and tried to keep a smile on my face, but on the inside I was yelling, “Are you KIDDING me? That sounds like an ideal week to me. Lady - you don’t know the first thing about hard.”
Then I realized that I was that lady such a short time ago. Beyond that I realized that my current hard week would seem like a piece of cake to a whole other group of moms out there.
It’s all relative.
I’m not living the life I’d choose right now, but I realize that it’s a heck of a lot better life than a lot of choices out there. What is it about hard times that compels us to look around and find someone else who has it harder so we can feel beter about our lot?
I’m really not going anywhere with this post. Just letting my fingers record the rambling path my brain is taking tonight. And now I think I’ll head downstairs and snuggle into my couch with my kids.