Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not Hating the Haters

The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine who happens to have five children. I mentioned that I saw an adorable t-shirt at a boutique near our house. The t-shirt was cute and pink and said: “Happy Mom” on it with a little smiley face. She looked at me and said: “I can’t wear that shirt. My son hates me.” I didn’t argue with her because I knew exactly what she meant. To mother is to be hated and I have to tell you that it sucks.

When I got started in parenting, I’m sure that I stood up on a bit of a soapbox and said that I was going to discipline my children and not worry about whether they liked me or not. I can now say that I did discipline them, but I spent more than a little time worrying about whether they liked me. What I don’t know is whether I did a good job hiding that second part.

I’ve been told by my children that they hate me only a handful of times. I know, however, that I’ve been hated by my children more times than I can count. I have to tell you, it never gets easier. Every time they proclaim their distaste, I wish I could be ready with a tear-inducing speech about how they’ll regret their loathing and indifference and wish they had been more loving and caring and less self-centered. They won’t. Why, because they’re heartless? No, because they’re human and I was the exact same way.

Recently I was talking to my mom about parenting. I mentioned something about my daughter being less than crazy about me. She nodded her head and said: “Yes, I was the same way to my mother.” I was amazed. She skipped right over me and my horrible teenage years! Since my kids have become teenagers, I have attributed every tough parenting moment to big-time payback for my less-than-stellar past behavior. Yet, here was my mom, either having a major senior moment, or blessedly telling me that it’s all in the scheme of things:

“Dad, tell me about the Circle of Life.”

“Well Simba, besides being the name of a cheesy Elton John song, it’s the theory that what goes around comes around. We eat animals and poop them out. You treat your mother and I like crap and your kids will do the same. It all works out in the end.”

So although I still hate being hated, I’m slightly less panicky about it. I see a glimmer of hope for the future. Someday my kids will respect me or at least tolerate me. And one day, they’ll have their own little haters to handle. Seems fair, don’t you think?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Craptastic Adventures of an Imperfect Mom

Today is Easter and I have done nothing for my kids. No, wait, that’s not true. I made brunch reservations. Does that count? No, probably not. But there are no baskets, no candy, no annoying plastic grass, no treats…nothing. Truth be told, I feel a little guilty. I feel like I’m letting them down. They’ll say they don’t care, but I’d bet that they’re expecting something, anything to be sitting on the kitchen counter when they wake up this morning. I guess I just ran out of steam and ideas.

It wasn’t too many years ago when I would be up at dawn hiding eggs all over the house and abundantly filling baskets with candy and assorted treats. I was so obsessive that if we went on vacation over Easter, I’d hide the goodies in our luggage and wait until the kids were asleep to do the Easter Bunny’s job. It was so important to me to perpetuate the fantasy. No, I don’t mean the Easter Bunny fantasy. I mean the fantasy that I’m a perfect mom.

I’ve been working long and hard on that story. I think it was borne out of my need to prove that despite the fact that I worked full-time, I still loved my kids as much as the stay-at-home moms did. It was so important to me that my kids and the people around us could see my devotion. Holidays were a big part of that. I attacked Christmas and Easter and Halloween with a fervor usually reserved for Olympic competition. If I wasn’t going to be at home for my kids then, dammit, we’d have so many holiday traditions that we’d just ooze warmth and cuteness.

And we did…for a while. I planned and I hid and I prepared and I shopped. I bought more crap at Hallmark (the hallowed headquarters of holiday excess) than I could fit in my house. I spent my lunch hours driving to malls and shops to find adorable kitsch to decorate our house and thereby demonstrate my love. When the kids were little, it really was fun. Their enthusiasm fueled my obsession.

Then little by little, things changed. Their excitement waned. They woke up later. They spent less time looking at my purchases and appreciating my preparation. They became more interested in text messages and IMs than where the eggs were hidden or what was under the Christmas tree. Basically, they started to grow up. Sigh.

This story doesn’t have a sad ending. I’m not completely giving up, I’m just resigned to zigging as they zag. I still have a few tricks left up my sleeve and the ability to surprise them once in a while, only it won’t be on everyone else’s holiday schedule. There are still care packages and mini shopping trips and small gestures that can warm even the most cynical teen. Although I no longer have the need to prove I’m a perfect mom, I’m still determined to show that I’m pretty damn cool.